Tourists hike in the calanchi district near the town of Aliano. Locals worry that oil exploration and a proposed biomass site pose health risks and endanger the fragile environment.
Credit: Jodi Hilton

Filippo Colaiacovo, who raises sheep and goats on a small farm near the village of Aliano, says, "it's quieter here among the calanchi," a local word used to describe the clay hills carved by the elements over thousands of years.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
The calanchi, whose "steep slopes of white clay ... with neither trees nor grass growing upon it, eroded into a pattern of holes and hillocks like a landscape on the moon," according to Carlo Levi, a political activist who, in the 1930s, was kept prisoner in the nearby town of Aliano.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Now, environmental groups are lobbying for a Calanchi Regional Park, specifically to prevent oil drilling and waste product facilities from being built in the calanchi district, which extends through much of central Basilicata, in the instep of Italy's boot.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Perched on a precipice overlooking the calanchi, the historic center of the village of Aliano, destroyed in a 1980 earthquake, has been restored and illuminated, partly with funds from the shared revenues from the oil industry.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
The village of Grumentum Nuovo overlooks an oil refinery located in the industrial area of Viggiano, where locals have voiced health complaints from the pollution generated by the plant and locally produced fruits and vegetables have tested positive for toxins.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Nicola Scelzi gathers olives in the traditional way, by hitting branches with a stick, in an area surrounded by calanchi. "My son runs a pizzeria, so we need the oil," he explains. The oil produced in the Basilicata region is an important staple for the local population.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Fruit-bearing cactus are among the plants adapted to the dry, sandy soil in the calanchi district.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Tourists hike in the calanchi district near the town of Aliano. Locals worry that oil exploration and a proposed biomass site pose health risks and endanger the fragile environment.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Farmers unload a tractor to cultivate wheat fields in the calanchi. Some areas inside the calanchi are viable for limited wheat cultivation, olive orchards and livestock grazing.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Near the village of Alianello Vecchio, plants sprout from a steep clay hill known as a calanche.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Craco Vecchio is an abandoned village in the calanchi district which was evacuated after a 1991 landslide. The World Monuments Fund put Craco on its 2010 Watch List, which highlights important sites threatened by neglect, demolition, or disaster.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
A farmer plows his fields near Craco Vecchio, in the calanchi district in central Basilicata, a region in Southern Italy.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
Livestock graze in a field in a lower part of the calanchi.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
In the town of Ferrandina, an industrial area has sprouted up in the shadow of the calanchi. Locals complain that Basilicata is targeted for industrial development, oil exploration and toxic waste sites specifically because of its low population density.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
An old car and other trash abandoned among the calanchi. The municipality of Aliano has proposed building hiking trails among the calanchi in order to stimulate tourism and hopefully keep out oil drilling and proposed waste sites.
Credit: Jodi Hilton
The older generation in villages such as Aliano still subsistence farm in the cultivatable areas among the calanchi, but like most villages in Basilicata, Aliano is suffering from population loss due to high unemployment.
Credit: Jodi Hilton

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