Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa are two hidden gems nestled in the breathtaking Lucanian Dolomites and are still relatively unknown to international travelers. I never knew about this place until I researched more about Basilicata after having been to Matera. And the photos were like a painting and I was convinced that we have to go there!
How to Get There?
We rented a car while traveling through Basilicata. We managed traveling around Puglia by public transport but Basilicata, other than Matera, was quite challenging for that and the best way to see these hidden towns are by car.
Stay in Castelmezzano or Pietrapertosa?
I had a difficulty deciding whether to stay in Castelmezzano or Pietrapertosa because both are charming villages and you can do the activities from either these towns. I observed that Pietrapertosa feels more residential so if you want this vibe then this is the town for you. On the other hand, Castelmezzano also has a very local vibe but with more tourists staying overnight and day trippers. Both towns are just as charming so you wouldn't regret any decision. We ended up staying in Castelmezzano for 3 nights and wished we stayed longer.
Now that I've answered the most common questions, here are things to do in Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa.
As the sun began to set, we arrived in the picturesque village of Castelmezzano. The first thing that caught our attention was the stunning view of Castelmezzano from one of the viewpoints, where we could see the majestic peaks of the Lucanian Dolomites. We didn't really have a plan where to go and just continued climbing the town's stairs that eventually leads to the viewpoint.
One thing to note about Castelmezzano is that it is a village filled with stairs, so be prepared for some uphill walking. But trust me, every step is worth it!
For dinner, we decided to get take away and have it from our apartment's nice view. We found Pizzeria Rosticceria 2T – an affordable place for pizza and they also sell peperoni cruschi which are sweet and sour peppers typical in Basilicata.
The Volo dell'Angelo Experience
Open on weekends
One of the highlights of our trip to Castelmezzano was undoubtedly experiencing the famous Volo dell'Angelo or the Flight of the Angel. We headed to the zipline office where we got weighed before embarking on this exhilarating adventure.
Note that you can start the zipline at either Castelmezzano or Pietrapertosa and it's a round trip so you go back to your starting point. If you wish to explore the other town, you should inform the office staff so that they give you time before your return flight as they will mark what time you should be on your next flight.
After taking a shuttle and hiking for around 20 minutes, we were ready for takeoff! The first leg of our journey involved soaring through an incredible 1.5km zipline towards Pietrapertosa. As we glided through the air, high above ground level, we couldn't help but marvel at both the adrenaline rush and panoramic views of the dolomites surrounding us.
Upon reaching Pietrapertosa, we had over an hour to explore this charming town. We took advantage of this time by indulging in some much-needed coffee and cornetto at a local café. It turned out to be the feast day of Saint Anthony de Padua, and we were lucky enough to witness a religious procession, adding an extra touch of cultural immersion to our adventure.
We couldn't resist visiting the castle in Pietrapertosa, which offered us a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape. The entrance fee was well worth it as we soaked in the beauty of this enchanting region.
Our journey continued as we hopped back on the zipline for our return flight to Castelmezzano. This time, we had an incredible view of the village itself, with its charming houses nestled among the rolling hills. It was truly a sight to behold. You see a different view which makes the roundtrip flight really interesting!
After landing safely back in Castelmezzano, our appetites led us to Pepperusko for lunch. We savored delicious dishes such as peperoni cruschi tagliare and indulged in antipasti featuring mouthwatering hams and cheeses. Of course, we couldn't leave without grabbing some pepper snacks as pasalubong (souvenirs) – they make for perfect gifts!
To end our day on a sweet note, we treated ourselves to some delectable Italian gelato before grabbing takeaway pizza from 2T Pizzeria for just 7 euros – what a steal! We headed down again to the plaza where we captured stunning night photography showcasing Castelmezzano's magical illuminated views from various angles.
The Flight of the Angel zipline led us to Pietrapertosa so it would be a waste if we just head back right away. We asked the staff from the Volo dell'Angelo to give us a couple of hours to explore the town. It's important to let them know especially when it's busy, as they will mark an estimate time of your return flight on your ticket.
We found a cafe at the center near the church and we happened upon a religious procession celebrating Saint Anthony de Padua, adding an extra touch of authenticity to our visit (this was in June 2023). We witnessed this tradition while we're having our cappuccino and cornetto as the procession passed by the street.
One of the highlights was undoubtedly our visit to the castle, which provided us with a mesmerizing view of both Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano. From this vantage point, we could truly appreciate the beauty of these two villages nestled amidst the stunning Dolomiti Lucane mountain range.
Conquer the Via Ferrata
For adventure seekers looking to challenge themselves, conquering the Via Ferrata in Castelmezzano is an absolute must-do. This thrilling activity allows you to navigate through rugged terrain while being secured by steel cables and iron rungs.
Before embarking on this exhilarating journey, it's important to note that the Via Ferrata here in the Lucanian Dolomites is not recommended for beginners. It requires some level of experience and physical fitness due to its demanding nature. However, if you're up for the challenge, it promises an unforgettable adrenaline rush and stunning views of the surrounding landscape. If you're a beginner, there are other places in Italy where you can definitely do some practice.
We rented via ferrata gear from a local provider which we met through our host for just 15 euros per day – a reasonable price considering the safety equipment provided. Equipped with helmets, harnesses, and carabiners, we felt confident as we began our ascent.
The route took us along steep cliffs and rocky outcrops as we carefully navigated our way using the fixed cables and iron steps embedded into the rock face. Each step brought us closer to breathtaking panoramic vistas that made all our efforts worthwhile.
One particularly memorable section was crossing a suspension bridge suspended high above a deep gorge. The thrill of walking across this narrow bridge while being surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time.
As we reached higher elevations, we were rewarded with sweeping views of Castelmezzano below us – a sight that truly took our breath away. It was incredible to witness firsthand how this picturesque village nestled among the rugged mountains.
Conquering the Via Ferrata in Castelmezzano not only provided us with an adrenaline-pumping adventure but also allowed us to appreciate the raw beauty of nature. It challenged us physically and mentally, leaving us with a sense of accomplishment and a newfound appreciation for the stunning landscapes that surround this enchanting destination.
Climb the Norman Stairway
Open on Weekends
For those who do not want to do a Via Ferrata but still want some exhilarating adventure, you can climb the 54 steps of the old Norman stairway for €8 per person or €13 for a couple. You will be given a harness and there's a guide that will take you through the steep climb.
Quad Tours: A Unique Way to Explore
If you're looking for a thrilling and unique way to explore the stunning Dolomiti Lucane, then a quad tour is just what you need. Hop on an all-terrain vehicle and get ready for an adventure that will take you off the beaten path and into the heart of nature.
The quad tours in Castelmezzano offer a direct connection with the breathtaking landscapes that surround this picturesque village. As we embarked on our tour, we were immediately captivated by the beauty of the ancient paths winding through the mountains, offering panoramic views at every turn.
Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or simply seeking a unique way to connect with nature, a quad tour in Castelmezzano is an absolute must-do. It offers an exhilarating adventure while showcasing some of Italy's most breathtaking landscapes.
Stay in an Apartment with a View
Imagine waking up to jaw-dropping views right from your own balcony – that's exactly what staying in one of Castelmezzano's apartments has to offer. Opting for accommodation with such scenic vistas allows you to immerse yourself fully in the natural beauty that surrounds this enchanting village.
We chose to stay in an apartment that overlooked the picturesque rooftops of Castelmezzano, with the majestic Dolomiti Lucane as our backdrop. The view was simply mesmerizing – a constant reminder of the awe-inspiring landscapes that awaited us each day.
The apartment itself was cozy and comfortable, providing all the amenities we needed for a pleasant stay. The bedroom is in a loft but with so much space. It felt like a home away from home, allowing us to relax and unwind after our thrilling adventures in Castelmezzano.
One of the highlights of staying in an apartment was being able to enjoy breakfast or a glass of wine on our private balcony while taking in the panoramic views. It created moments of tranquility and allowed us to fully appreciate the beauty that surrounded us.
Here's an apartment tour I posted in my Instagram
Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa both gave us incredible experiences from soaring through the sky on the Volo dell'Angelo zipline to conquering challenging via ferratas and indulging in mouthwatering culinary delights, every moment has been filled with adventure and wonder.
Castelmezzano truly offers something for everyone – whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or simply yearning for serenity amidst stunning natural landscapes. This charming village has captured our hearts with its unique blend of rugged beauty and warm hospitality.
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