Tursi, La Rabatana-Basilicata


We arrived at a mysterious area called Tursi, in the forgotten Arabic quarter called la rabatana.

There, I met Paolo Popia, a charming modern poet and lover of the la rabatana. An architect by profession, Paolo revived an old property located in the almost completely abandoned historical center of the town and turned it into a reknown hotel and restaurant of the area: Hotel dei Poeti.

I also met the hotel’s secret pasta maker….la sig. Carmela, a mother of 12 children. She showed me how “simple” it is to make “frizzuoli con il ferretto”:  an elongated pasta, which is carved and curled and twisted with a sort of metal chopstick. One after the other her skilled hands produced enough pasta to feed 20 people. She taught me that crafting pasta with one’s bare hands is an important ritual to be continuously maintained and transmitted to future generations. It was with this simple dish that Carmela was able to feed all her family. Back in the day, no one had the means to buy pasta.  Most people were poor and lived solely from what the land yielded naturally.

We were graced with Paolo’s poetic interpretation of Tursi, which illustrated the connection between past and present. Immersed in the greatness of this land, I listened to Paolo’s vocation to maintain the tradition, culture and dialect of the language specific to the Tursis’ way of life and its capacity to accentuate and renew all sensorial experiences. A deep connection spontaneously surfaced to this place, which left me in awe.  I shall return.