It's been a while - we're sorry for that! Life suddenly got very busy here in Matera during 2019 – particularly now our fully escorted tours are in full swing for the year!
Let's start with our latest review...(found on Google):
'A truly authentic experience. The food was the best I've ever eaten anywhere in Italy and the family is very caring and professional. The accommodation was very clean, comfortable and charming. Loved the pool and the beautiful and tranquil setting. Easy access to nearby Matera and other interesting places in Basilicata. I highly recommend it!'
We always get a real thrill from a review like that because it reaffirms our belief in what we're doing and our passion to offer travellers 'a truly authentic experience'. Authenticity is something we all hear about when considering a trip to Italy and we take great pride from the fact that many of our guests express that authentic Italy can indeed be found with us here in Lucania (Basilicata). But what is it exactly that makes a vacation with us so 'authentic?' Well, we thought we'd use this blog post to explore our understanding of 'authenticity' in relation to what has happened in some of our most recent tours.
Let's start with the wonderful group of American ladies we had here at the end of April, beginning of May.
One of the best ways to experience and learn about a new culture is to meet local musicians and dance the night away. One of our favourite authentic experiences offered in a La Lucana tour is an evening with some of the many folk musicians of Matera. During and after your final dinner with us, you and your friends will suddenly find yourself dancing around our dining hall, while the 'Materani' (the people of Matera) sing their dialect songs and play their fascinating instruments. It's the fact that you get to actually dance (and even sing at times) like the Materani do that makes this experience so special and, of course, authentic! For a sneak preview, check out these brilliant ladies getting right into the spirit of it all with our family!
Italians have a great history of emigrating all around the world, with one popular destination being of course New York, USA. These days, many of the Italian descendants of these families have moved out to places like New Jersey and over the past couple of years we've had the pleasure of welcoming a few guests from that region, who are often looking to re-connect with their routes right here in Basilicata. In fact, recently, we had the pleasure of hosting one lady whose Mother was only a child when when she made the long and arduous journey from Basilicata to New York City, over a hundred years ago. We really do get a great kick out of seeing our guests visiting 'the old country' for the first time and trying things that their ancestors used to do all those years ago. One great example of an activity that has survived the many decades that have passed since those first migrants left, is the baking of Materan bread (il pane di Matera).
Hands-on experiences like this, where you actually get to meet local people who uphold local traditions, is such a key factor in making our La Lucana experiences truly authentic. For us, Italy is not just about seeing the beauty of the art, architecture or landscapes – it's about meeting the people and doing the things that they do. We believe that it's in those moments where the real Italy will reveal itself and it's our passion to help you discover that too.
Finally, June saw us very happy to welcome our first Canadian guests to our La Lucana experience – two wonderful sisters from Toronto. Spending four nights with us, it was our privilege to help them feel part of the family as we revealed the hidden gems of local towns and villages to them during their stay with us. We even managed to fit in a trip to the beach here in Basilicata!
However, it was interesting to learn from our Canadian guests that it wasn't just the organised day trips and excursions to stunning and off the beaten path places that made their experience with us so 'authentic'. Instead, they explained, it was 'us' and the people that they had met in Basilicata that were the key to such a unique experience. They loved that we were so passionate about this region and they particularly liked the fully escorted nature of our experiences as they felt that they could get closer and deeper into this fascinating Southern Italian culture. We learned from them that perhaps we need to try and communicate and promote that aspect of our experiences more as we grow and develop and it's certainly given us a lot of food for thought!
So, there we have it. A 'truly authentic experience'. Not found on a tour bus or a cruise ship, nor even found in the most beautiful of restaurants in Rome, Florence or Venice. Found instead in Italy's Secret Southern Region. In the music, the bakeries and on the farms. In the people. In the family - OUR family - of Lucania, ready to show you an Italy undisturbed.
What are you waiting for?