The most romantic small town in Italy Castelmezzano

The most romantic small town in Italy Castelmezzano… Castelmezzano, a picturesque village located in Basilicata, Italy, is a hidden gem that deserves to be on every traveler’s itinerary. Perched atop a cliff surrounded by the stunning Lucanian Dolomites, this village offers breathtaking views and a chance to experience authentic Italian culture. With its numerous beautiful churches and clusters of houses precariously perched on a narrow ledge overlooking a dramatic gorge, Castelmezzano is a unique destination that combines history, tradition, and natural beauty. Take a stroll through its narrow streets and enjoy the stunning vistas from its cliff-side walking paths. Immerse yourself in the local culture by holidaying with Italians and experience the best of what Castelmezzano and Italy have to offer.


  • The village;
  • History;
  • Reasons To  Visit Castelmezzano…What to See;
    • Le Dolomiti Lucane
    • The Flight of the Angels
    • Nature trails
    • The valley of Caperrino
  • Historic and Religious buildings;
    • Church of Santa Maria dell’Olmo
    • Castrum Medianum (Castle in the Middle)
    • Notable inhabitants Places
  • Events;

                Festa del Maggio a Castelmezzano   

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The village;

Castelmezzano is a hidden gem located in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata. This small, picturesque village is situated in the heart of the Dolomiti Lucane Mountains and is renowned for its breathtaking views and unique landscape. The village is perched high on the hills above the Basento River and is opposite Pietrapertosa, the highest village in Basilicata. Castelmezzano is shaped like a natural amphitheater and is surrounded by imposing sandstone rock formations created by wind and rain over time. This stunning location makes the village resemble a beautiful nativity scene carved into the mountainside. Castelmezzano is an unspoiled treasure of Basilicata and a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of this region.


Entering the country is an unusual experience, as the small village of Castelmezzano appears suddenly after a tunnel carved in the rocks. The approach is made easy by following the signs after the scenic Basentana highway and tunnel, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Before the road was built after World War II, the village was isolated and only accessible by mule paths and walking trails connecting it to other towns. The village is situated in a breathtaking valley between two mountains, making it feel like a world unto itself.

View of Castelmezzano from Pietrapertosa

Castelmezzano, a small village located in Italy, is renowned for its picturesque beauty, both during the day and night. It has been named as one of the “most beautiful hamlets of Italy” by U.S. magazine Budget Travel, and has even been described as “the best place on the planet among all the ones we have never even heard about.” Its medieval appearance, with houses drilled directly into the rock and perched on a narrow ledge, adds to its unique charm. The town, accessible only by foot, features a main street and numerous alleyways and staircase “streets” that lead to breathtaking heights and offer stunning views of the Lucane Dolomites. Castelmezzano has served as the setting for the movie “An almost perfect Country” and the television series “This is my Country.” This charming village, inhabited by just over 800 people, is a true gem and is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.


Walking down the main street of Castelmezzano, starting from the Town Hall, one can reach the castle ruins via a steep, narrow staircase that leads to the sky. The remnants of the Norman period walls can still be seen, and there is a tank on a rock that served as a meteorite reservoir for collecting rainwater. The long and steep staircase carved into the rock allowed access to the highest lookout point, where the whole valley of the Basento River could be monitored.

These structures in Castelmezzano are a rare example of balancing human intervention with the natural environment without distorting it, earning the village the title of “city-nature”. Castelmezzano has a deep respect for the surrounding landscape, history, and tradition, and its sustainable relationship with the environment has earned it recognition as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.


The history of Castelmezzano dates back to the colonization of the Southern Italian coast and the valley of Basento in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The Greeks established a town called Maudoro and the area was known for its rich gold deposits. In the 10th century AD, the Saracen invasions forced the citizens of Maudoro to flee and seek a new location in an isolated and rugged valley. This led to the foundation of Castelmezzano, which was protected by steep peaks and a strategic defense system that could repel invaders.

The Lombards occupied the area, followed by the Normans in the 11th and 13th centuries AD. The Normans built a castle, Castrum Mediani, and contributed to the economic development of the village. The current structure of Castelmezzano is a remnant of the Norman fortress, with its walls and tiers of rocks still visible. The name Castelmezzano roughly means Castle in the Middle, in reference to its location between the neighboring centers of Pietrapertosa and Albano di Lucania.


The Normans brought peace and prosperity to Castelmezzano, until the arrival of the Angevins led to a decline in the town’s fortunes. In 1310, it was acquired by the Diocese of Potenza and then transferred to Acerenza in 1324. During the rule of the Crown of Aragon in the 14th and 16th centuries, Castelmezzano was granted as a fief to several noble families, including the Baron Giovanni Antonio De Leonardis and the De Lerma family. These families brought development to the town, as seen by the prestigious buildings still present today. However, in the 19th century, Castelmezzano’s location, with its natural hiding places and lush vegetation, made it a target for bandits, causing many residents to leave and migrate overseas.

Reasons To  Visit Castelmezzano…What to See;


1-Le Dolomiti Lucane;

Castelmezzano is a breathtaking destination, located in the Natural Park of Gallipoli Cognato and the Piccole Dolomiti Lucane Park. This picturesque landscape boasts not only stunning natural beauty, but also a rich historical legacy, evidenced by the megalithic walls of the IV century B.C. settlement called Croccia Cognato. The Dolomiti Lucane Park spans over 27,027 hectares and is a hub for outdoor activities such as hiking, orienteering, guided tours, and rock climbing, offering a wide range of opportunities for nature enthusiasts.


2-Flight of the Angels; 

Castelmezzano is renowned for its breathtaking tourist attraction, the “Flight of the Angels”. This adventure is a unique experience that is perfect for thrill-seekers who want to fly over the stunning valley that separates two mountain peaks in the region between Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa. The “Flight of the Angels” is a high-speed zip line that enables visitors to soar between the two villages at a height of 800 meters above the ground and enjoy the magnificent Dolomites landscape.

With speeds of up to 120 km/h, the “Flight of the Angels” offers an unparalleled mountain view and a unique thrill. The incredible round-trip journey is 1452 meters long and consists of two different lines – the “Peschiera” line and the “San Martino” line. Visitors can start on either side, but this incredible experience is only available from June to September.

To participate in the “Flight of the Angels,” individuals must be 16 years or older, not overweight, and not faint-hearted. They can fly solo or with a partner, sharing the pleasure of an adventure that lasts a little over a minute but will stay in their hearts forever.

For those who love trekking, the Valley of the Stream Caperrino, which is the boundary between Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, offers picturesque scenery. One of the most famous trails is the “Path of the Seven Stones” – Le Sette Pietre. This ancient trail provides an evocative experience for visitors.


3-Nature trails;

Explore the enchanting landscape of Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano with a variety of nature trails and routes in all directions. Experience the thrill of zip-lining on the Peasant Zip-lining Trail, also known as the Hike of the Seven Stones. This 2 km trail features seven sculptures along the way and crosses the valley of the stream, making it an ideal walk for nature lovers. The path is inspired by ancient folk legends, based on the text “Vito was Dancing with the Witches” by Mimmo Sammartino.

Discover the valley of Caperrino by exploring the numerous sheep tracks. For those who love mountain climbing, the Iron Route (Via Ferrata) is a must-visit tourist attraction. This is one of the 500 via ferrata climbing routes in Europe and offers an unforgettable adventure experience for anyone with modest fitness. The Iron Route consists of two twisting routes designed to climb the rocks and pass through the Dolomiti Lucane, with walkways, channels, canals, and two Tibetan bridges along the way. This exciting experience has been available since 2015.

via ferrata

4-The valley of Caperrino;

The countryside surrounding Caperrino Valley offers a perfect setting for scenic excursions, with paths, stairways, and bridges made of stone, believed to date back to Roman times, leading to nearby Pietrapertosa. The area is rich in history and charm, and along the stream, you can find the remnants of abandoned mills. These structures are particularly intriguing, featuring remains of ancient dry mills built with dry stone walls and roofs made of local “chiang” stone slabs.

Historic and Religious buildings;

1-Church of Santa Maria dell’Olmo;

The central hub of village life is Caizzo Square, where the town’s main church, Santa Maria dell’Olmo, can be found. The church is a remarkable piece of art, featuring a Romanesque facade that serves as the backdrop for a precious 14th century wooden statue of the Madonna and Child. This statue, known as the “Madonna of the Elm”, was crafted by the artist Girolamo Bresciano and is widely regarded as a masterpiece. Bresciano was a highly regarded artist in the region and his works can be found in many churches and convents throughout the area.


2-Castrum Medianum (Castle in the Middle);

The Norman-Swabian castle in Castelmezzano exudes an air of mystery and antiquity, built after the occupation of the Lombards. Known as Medianum Castrum, or simply Castl, the fortress takes its name from its location halfway between the fortresses of Pietrapertosa and Brindisi Montagna. Visitors can now climb a narrow path and steep steps carved into the rock to explore the remaining remnants of the castle and admire the view of the Basento valley below, guarded by the military garrison.

3-Notable inhaitants;

Stately buildings and palaces such as the Palazzo Merlino, Palazzo Parrella, Palazzo Paternò, and Palazzo Campagna are not to be overlooked in this small center. Other notable palaces include the De Lerma’s Ducal Palace and the Palazzo Coiro.



Festa del Maggio a Castelmezzano;

The Festival del Maggio in Castelmezzano is a celebration of Nordic-Celtic origin, considered the main and oldest pagan tradition in the village. Each year on the first Sunday of September, the Sagra du’Masc takes place, a festival that merges religious and natural elements to honor St. Anthony of Padua. During the festival, adult participants choose a “tree of life” from the surrounding woods and bring it to the main town square to be joined in a symbolic “marriage”. The tree, made up of a male trunk and a female top, can be an oak, beech, pine, or other species. The trunk is carried by pairs of oxen and the top by a group of young people from the village. The marriage of the tree symbolizes the renewal of ancient tree rituals and marks the beginning of spring.


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