The sheer cliffs of Aliano

San Luigi Gonzaga, Aliano

Cattle grazing near Aliano

Welcome to Aliano
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 1,274 (2003)
Official website:
Wikipedia: n/a
Map: MapQuest

Aliano (at 497 m) is spectacularly positioned on a hill between the River Agri and its tributary the Sauro, surrounded by deep gullies and chasms carved into the sedimentary rock.

Eeking out a living, farmers living in the town still town trek down to the valleys below to tend their small fields and gardens, returning every day up the same well trodden paths.  The village is surrounded by olive groves and the wonderful giardini di Aliano - mostly peach and citrus orchards, which produce a wonderful airborne scent.

Between May 1935 and October 1936, Carlo Levi, philospher and polemicist, was sent into forced internal exile by the Mussolini's Fascist regime which he criticized to great effect.  He wrote his seminal work, a kind of diary he titled Christ Stopped in Eboli about Lucania - this part of Basilicata - and his stay in Aliano, calling it "Gagliano".  Levi was buried in Aliano, at his own request, after he died in 1975.  The house he lived in stands at the entrance to the village.

In the centro storico the Palazzo Caporale, built in the 18th century.  has become a museum with some artifacts from his home, plus photos and text about Levi.

The Museum of Rural Civilization was opened in 1987 in an old olive pressing mill next to the house where Levi lived. As you might expect, the collection, much of it from the 20th century, includes equipment, tools, furniture and other household objects used in the local area.  One of the rooms recreates the interior of a typical farmer's one room home.  There are also a few well preserved ancient frescoes.

The main church, San Luigi Gonzaga, built in the 16th century, which conserves a painting by Carlo Sellito and one attributed to Luca Giordano.  There is a Madonna and Infant done in the Byzantine style, anda sliver cross by the painter Giovanni Perticara of Matera done in about 1523.

In the streets of Aliano on the last Sunday of Carnival they hold the Frase, a play during which it is permitted to comment freely on local occurrences and people, not a dangerous thing now, but certainly dangerous in days gone by.  The young who participate wear bells, animal harnesses and the so-called "horn mask" (papier maché, clay, rooster feathers) which symbolize diabolical forces.  Carnival time is a good time to visit.

In 1982 a necropolis was found near the village dating from the 7th-5th centuries B.C with rich content.

Close by the village is the recently rebuilt Chiasa Madonna dela Stella, offering a stunning panamoraic view from its porch.

Leaving Aliano driving south, you descend through more of this fantastic and mezmerizing landscape coming first, after 7km, to Alianello Nuovo (alt. 415 m) and then to Alianello (alt. 400 m) both set into sheer tufa walls perforated with caves.

Archaelogical excavations in the area have revealed caves once occupied by trogolodytes and later by hermit monks, as well as necropoli dating to the paleolithic era, well before the arrival of Greek colonists between the 6th and 4th Centuries BC.  An abundance of tools and other artifacts recovered from the area are now kept in the Siritide National Museum in Policoro.

by Jesse Andrews, October 13th, 2006



By Car: South from Naples on the A3 to Buonabiticalo then east on the SS598 approximately 75 km. then slightly north on the secondary roads.  From the Ionian coast, south or north on the SS!06 to Policoro then east on SS598 about 35 km then north.  By Bus: SITA bus from Matera

The best way to visit Aliano is to stay in Matera and make a day trip, through this incredible area either by foot or car.




Festival mask, Aliano


Tell us about your trip to Aliano.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Contribute

Carlo Levi, Aliano