Friday, September 21, 2007


Aliano is, at least, indirectly, the reason we have come to Basilicata. It was the site of in-country exile of Carlo Levi, a painter and philosopher who was vocally anti-fascist and so was sent to the middle of nowhere by Mussolini. A British travel writer, David Yeadon, who had read Levi's book Christ Stopped at Eboli (Eboli is not far from Paestum and Salerno in Campania) about, among other things, Basilicata. Yeadon and his wife decided to live for a year in Aliano a few years ago and he wrote a book about living in Aliano, the places he went in Basilicata, the people and dogs he met, which I read. And so I fell in love with Basilicata from afar. So of course, we needed to go to Aliano.

It's still in the middle of nowhere. But what nowhere! Situated at the top of a mountain with only 1 functioning road (for cars) in and out with cliffs and bluffs and olive groves on the sides of the mountain.

The town of Aliano has very much embraced Levi as their own, as he himself did- he was in exile for only a year but he requested that he be buried in Aliano (we did visit his grave, which had some flowers - fake - and small stones left there in homage). The museum with his paintings and the house where he was confined were both closed (they seem to perpetually be so), the house appeared to be under-going renovation. All through town there were markers with quotes from Levi as part of the Parco Carlo Levi- his thoughts on Aliano, Naples, the new fountain built in a town, the elementary school...whatever. And here is a bust in a small park dedicated to Levi in the centro storico,

The centro storico, essentially next to the modern town and a bit down, was lovely. There was a lot of renovation and restoration going on- lots of workers and architects with plans running around. There were several marked historical palazzos. A few people were living in the restored or semi-restored houses and it seems that more and more will move back,


At 11:57 AM, Blogger leigh andrew said...

Carlo Levi seems like an interesting guy - i just looked him up on (of course) wikipedia. He apparently studied medicine in college, but never practiced and became a painter and political activist. He was Jewish and apparently founded the Italian anti-fascist movement (Giustizia e Libertà) with another Jewish guy; I cannot believe that they survived WWII - with their politics and heritage. Very interesting.

At 4:56 AM, Blogger Pug&MooseMama said...

We were wondering about that too, how he survived with (just) exile... I don't really know much about WWII & Italy. And we have heard that (perhaps outside of Aliano) Levi is more well-known outside of Italy than within, perhaps (this is our speculation) because the Italians are embarrassed that more of them did not speak out against Facism.

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night I watched the first part of Ken Burns The War. Excellent.

What a difficult place to built a town. For swcurity?

The drive must've been something.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Pug&MooseMama said...

As you can see in our new post on Pietrapertosa, most of the towns in that part of Basilicata are on the top of mountains. Probably for defense. But we did wonder as we went up and down, up and down, up and down...

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Pug&MooseMama said...

Oh, the other reason for towns being at top of mountain peaks, ridge that we came up with was...malaria. Basilicata once known as 'pestilental' because of the malaria in the lowlands. So, being up in the mtns. would help avoid that!


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