Though Basilicata is one of the most remote and least visited parts of Italy, the serene landscape of this southern region is stunningly beautiful, with dramatic cocoa-colored ravines, rolling fields of golden wheat and white villages perched on hilltops that look like low clouds from afar. Despite being one of Italy’s smallest regions, Basilicata boasts a sandy coastline on the Ionian Sea, a distinctive local cooking style and some excellent little-known wines. It is the recent emergence of Matera as an intriguingly offbeat destination that is putting Basilicata on the map. Continuously inhabited for more than 9,000 years, Matera is two towns: the modern one, where most of its inhabitants live today, and the old town, which was originally a troglodyte settlement bored into the limestone of a steep bluff overlooking a valley and sweeping plains. During the past 10 years, Matera’s abandoned old town has attracted artists and writers along with farsighted expatriates who have turned several of the abandoned cave dwellings into hotels.