Have you ever seen the mouth of a Volcano?
Monticchio is located between the municipalities of Rionero in Vulture and Atella, in the Province of Potenza, Basilicata. Its peculiarity is that of being inside the Mount Vulture, an ancient Volcano. Today, there are two natural lakes: lago Piccolo, the small lake, and Lago Grande, the big Lake. The best way to reach it is, once more time, by car, as I explained in my post about Basilicata.
Relax along the lake
Here you can find picnic areas with tables and benches, camping sites, hotels and restaurants. You can practice water sports by renting a canoe or a pedalo and there are also boat tours.
The entire volcano appears a a huge green spot with many times of trees, flowers and a huge variety of animals. If you are lucky, you can also spot a rare butterfly, the Brahmaea europaea.
Or visit the Abbey
From the shores of the small lake you will notice a white building. It is the Abbey dedicated to St Michael Archangel. The church dates back to the 8 century and it was built in a cave dug into the tuff. You can find frescos of the 11 century, Byzantine mosaics and a little spring of holy water where pilgrims dip their fingertips.
An area renowned for its water springs?
The water here makes Monticchio famous. Several are the companies that bottle it and ship it all around Italy. When I was a child, I remember a spring of mineral water. I used to go there with my dad and drink directly from the rock a sparkling water. Unfortunately, I am not sure that those spring exists anymore. Apparently google says that they are still open to the public, so if you find one, send me a message!
Plan your trip carefully
The entire area is fantastic for long strolls in the woods. Some paths are marked but pay attention, especially at night. The telephone in some spots doesn’t work, you do not want to get lost here without the possibility to lose your way home.
Monticchio is certainly worth a visit, even for a couple of hours. It is quite unusual to drive up the mountain and then, once you have reached the the crater, to drive down to reach the lakes. And fear not, the Volcano is not going to erupt any time soon.