Basilicata is essentially a lump of Apennines (even though it has both a Mediterranean and Ionian coast), and as Fred Plotkin notes in his excellent “Italy for the Gourmet Traveler,” the capital city, Potenza, is the highest- elevation regional capital in Italy. Monte Vulture sits just north of Potenza, and it is not uncommon for aglianico to be harvested in late October and even November.


The truly great ristoranti of Basilicata can be named on one hand and are all but two within an hour’s drive of the financial capital of Potenza. My favorite two, however, are both located in a tiny little town called “Terranova di Pollino” located in the National Park of Pollino stretching across the southern border of Basilicata into Calabria. The fancier one is in a nice hotel and called Picchio Nero (via mulino 1 tel…0973 93170) The kitchen is run by signora Genovese and specializes in simple rustic fare, unbelievably textured pastas often loaded with legume based flours like the ferrazuoli al sugo di capra, a rough tangle of dried ceci ropes in a tangy goat ragu with two types of pecorino, or tagliarelli with black truffles and the soft local olive oil. Main courses include a stuffed leg of goat with spicy marinated eggplant, or a simple piece of scamorza off of the grill with a grating of the local black truffle over. To finish, a plate of fresh ricotta and a couple of blackberries and I dance the frug with any lady in black near the piazza.