Nature, sporta and sacredness fuse together in this little mountain town of Basilicata. Located at an altitude of nearly 1000 metres, Viggiano is the ideal destination for skiing lovers. Here there is the Montagna Grande (Big Mountain), massif of the Lucanian Apennine at about 1700 metres AMSL, equipped with skiing facilities and accommodation.
THE BLACK VIRGIN MARY, PATRON SAINT OF BASILICATA
And it is also here, in the heights between the beech woods, that you can find the Santuario della Madonna Nera del Sacro Monte di Viggiano (the Black Virgin Mary of the Holy Mount of Viggiano Shrine), destination of pilgrimages and worship. The Shrine hosts, between May and September, the ancient wooden statue of the Black Virgin Mary, patron saint of Basilicata.
Visiting Viggiano and its mountains also means savouring the typical dishes of the Lucanian cuisine and living a weekend in touch with the nature..
The village of Viggiano is in fact located inside the Lucanian Apennine-Val d'Agri-Lagonegrese National Park, a privileged place for trekking lovers who there can visit the WWF Theme Museum about the history of the Italian Wolf (also known as the Apennine Wolf).
THREE GOOD REASONS TO VISIT VIGGIANO
1. THE SKI RESORT
The ski resort Montagna Grande of Viggiano is about 11 kilometres from the village, between the mountains of the Lucanian Apennine.
It contains three slopes for Alpine skiing, located between 1400 – 1600 metres AMSL and with a layout for cross country skiing loop-shaped that is 3 kilometres long and enters the beech wood from the downstream area of the Alpine ski slopes.
The slopes are supplied with two skilifts and a conveyor belt suitable for less-experienced users; they make carving skis, boots, helmets, bobsleighs and little sledges available for hire. The structure is equipped with night lighting, to allow the skiers to try the thrill of skiing in the moonlight (night opening is only in particular occasions).
Close to the ski area there are many paths where you can walk by snowshoes or by horse drawn sleighs.
2. THE LUCANIAN APENNINE NATIONAL PARK
When the green of woods substitute for the white of snow, the Montagna Grande of Viggiano changes its aspect and gives the tourist a new experience. The massif is in fact inside the Lucanian Apennine National Park, a place full of fauna and flora to discover by trekking and nordic walking following its numerous paths.
Inside the Park, what deserves a visit is undoubtedly the WWF Theme Museum about the Apennine Wolf (free entrance), where it is possible to follow interesting documentaries and classes with the experts of the Educational and Environmental Centre of Viggiano.
3. THE PILGRIMAGE OF THE BLACK VIRGIN MARY
The pilgrimage towards the Black Virgin Mary Shrine is one of the most heart-felt religious recurring event from Lucanian people. It occurs in two periods of every year: the fist Sunday of May and the first Sunday of September.
In May, a solemn procession carries the statue from the Church of Viggiano to the Shrine on the sacred Mount, located 12 kilometres away from the village at a high of 1725 metres.
Then in September, the statue makes the return journey the opposite way to come back to the sacred Mount of the mother-church of Viggiano. Reaching the Shrine is not easy, since the path is uphill and people need to pass through two kilometres of beech woods and breath-taking views. Once on the top, though, the sensation of peace and the sacred aura surrounding the Shrine pay even the most sceptical back for the long walk.
Since August 2016 visitors of Viggiano have been able to admire the imposing monument dedicated to the statue carriers, realised by the artist Felice Lovisco. The holy work is the second biggest in Basilicata after the Christ statue in Maratea, and it is exactly located in Piazza Giovanni XXIII.