Latronico rises at the foot of one of the most imposing mountains of the Southern Apennines, the Monte Alpi, at the entrance to the Sinni Valley, almost at 900 metres above sea level.
It is a small village that extends like a wildfire and thinning as it goes down to the lower part of the relief on which it is born.
Known as a sort of “wellness paradise”, Latronico is known for the presence of a large number of thermal water springs.
Crossed by characteristic alleys and surrounded by breathtaking views offered by the Pollino National Park, the municipality is made even more suggestive by the presence of ravines that surround the old town, located on the upper part of the country and called Capadavutu, which is opposed by the lower part which instead takes the name of Capabbasciu.
Theories about the etymology of the name are different. According to some scholars, the name “Latronico” would be of Greek derivation with the meaning of “hidden place“, while according to others the Greek derivation would be based on the word “Latomia“, stone quarry.
As for the origins of the inhabited centre, traces of the first settlements in the territory of Latronico, exactly in the area of Calda, go back to the Mesolithic, that is 8000 BC, where small groups of men lived for over 6000 years surviving on agricultural-pastoral activities.
The first real inhabited centre dates back then to the High Middle Ages, at the time when the populations settled in the higher parts of the hills to escape the raids of Saraceni and Longobardi.
The historical events of the town remain unknown until 1063, when the name of Latronico appeared in a written document for the first time.
Latronico was a fief of Cola di Jonata, of the Sanseverino, of the Palmieri, of the Corcione and finally of the Jesuits, then became state property.
It was under the fascist regime that the area began to be exploited for the many sulfur-magnesium sources that characterize it, to the point of seeing the birth of one of the most advanced thermal establishments of the period.
CULTURAL AND ARTISTIC HERITAGE
Determining the position of the village in the setting of traditions and culture.
The presence of rich deposits of pyrite, marble, talc, quartz and white alabaster in the rock of Monte Alpi has in fact created over time a very particular and refined gray stone craftsmanship that enriched the streets of the village with the production of portals, statues, stoups and altars.
The biggest attraction is obviously represented by the spa park located in Calda, next to which stands the path of contemporary art created by the erection of various works of art in the urban fabric. Among these stands “Earth Cinema”, Anish Kapoor’s work, an international artist who, within the “Arte Pollino” project, created a real cut dug into the earth in the spa area. A 45-meter slot that can be crossed on both sides, where the viewer observing the surrounding landscape manages to merge into it and feel an integral part of that nature.
FOOD AND WINE
Symbol of the Latronichese gastronomy is the so-called “biscotto a otto”, a salted tarallo whose shape recalls the number 8 and whose recipe dates back to the ancient tradition of the place. Made with “carosella” flour, a variety of local soft wheat, the biscuit is made even more special by careful processing that involves double cooking, first in water then in the oven, with no fat ingredients. Accompanied by cold cuts, cheese, honey and a good red wine, the tarallo gives its best and is usually particularly appreciated.
But let’s stop for lunch. The main carachter of this table in Basilicata is once again the homemade pasta seasoned with local products. In the front row we find lasagnette with porcini mushrooms, called “Tapparedde cch’i lardari“, fusilli with sausage and pork rind, the three-finger gnocchi del lavoratore, known as “Rascatieddi du ‘gualano“, fusilli with bread crumbs, tagliolini with beans and ground peppers, lagane and chickpeas, pork and bean soup, and finally the classic ravioli stuffed with sheep ricotta.
Among the main courses, instead, cod with cruschi peppers, the pan-fried goat and different types of grilled or baked meat including: lamb with potatoes and baby onions, roast mutton, roasted chicken , gliummarieddi, or lamb’s gut wrapped in a ball, and pastorale, or rather sheep’s meat cooked according to an ancient pastoral tradition.
You cannot miss sausages, dairy products, cheese and mushrooms, with the addition of wild boar and hare.
Among the desserts, blood pudding, a cake made with pig’s blood, rice, raisins and chocolate, arouses curiosity, next to which we find the “purciddatu“, a purely Easter cake, and the “cannariculi“, typically carnival-like fried dough.