Off eaten path: Italy's remote Basilicata holds hidden treasure

May 07, 2014 1611

Boom! Boom! Gunshots shatter the early morning calm. It's not yet 8 a.m. when two rifle blasts echo through the countryside. Most of the village of Bernalda is already awake. I'm halfway through a bicycle ride when the gunfire reverberates through the valley that surrounds this sleepy Italian village. Birds scatter. Dogs bark in the distance.

I lurch my bicycle to a stop and peer over the centuries-old wall that encircles the town. I scan the terrain below. Bernalda crowns the tip of a pointy mountain in Basilicata's remote Matera Province.

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