Basilicata is the most mountainous region in the south of Italy, comprising 47% of the region. The first traces of human presence in Basilicata date to the late Palaeolithic Age, with findings of the Homo erectus. Late Cenozoic fossils, found at Venosa and other locations, include elephants, rhinoceros and extinct species such as the Machairodus saber-toothed cat.
As a general rule, the cuisine is fairly simple, with fresh meats and seasonal vegetables, as well as sausages, in particular the Luganega, a long smooth-sided (no links) sausage that was well known and highly admired by the Ancient Romans and continues to delight today. Olive oil is the fat of choice, while the predominant spice is hot pepper, locally known as diavulicchiu (little devil), frangisello (saddle breaker), or cerasella. Dishes made with hot pepper are often referred to as farmers’ or shepherds’ meals because hot pepper was so important in the rural diet.