Discovering the Magic of Matera

Discovering the Magic of Matera, Matera, Italy (B)

Matera is a gem hidden in plain sight. A sort of diamond in the rough that in a short period of time went from being the shame of Italy in the 1950s to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and the European Capital of Culture in 2019. In such recent years, the city has been called the jewel of the southern Italian region of Basilicata, and for good reason. At the heart of Matera are its sassi, ancient cave dwellings carved into the rocky tufa limestone cliffs high above the Gravina gorge. These single room homes have been inhabited since prehistoric times, making Matera one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world.

It’s not hard to be swept away by the city’s larger than life feel. An optical illusion like an M.C. Escher drawing (see here and here) of mind-bending twists and turns, seemingly endless interconnected stone staircases, walkways and tunnels meandering up and down, down and up, with the occasional door to “nowhere” (similar to what you will also find in Santorini) perched along the side of a street. Churches on top of streets, streets on top of roofs, Matera’s complex structure is truly like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And like Venice, it’s impossible to get lost because even if you go the wrong way and find yourself at a dead end, you’ll likely be treated to a beautiful view or at the very least a colorful worn door or two. A stone maze frozen in time, it’s no wonder that Matera has also served as a cinematic backdrop for movies ranging from The Passion of the Christ to the most recent James Bond film No Time to Die. ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Discovering the Magic of Matera
Guide Location: Italy » Matera
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (B))
Author: Jessica Trumble
Read it on Author's Website:
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Sasso Barissano
  • Sasso Caveso
  • Casa Noha
  • Casa Grotta nei Sassi
  • Cattedrale di Maria Santissima della Bruna e Sant’Eustachio
  • Piazza Duomo
  • Santa Maria di Idris
  • San Pietro Barisano
  • San Pietro Caveoso
  • Palombaro Lungo
  • Il Terrazzino
  • Osteria al Casale
  • I Due Sassi Cafe
  • Hotel Sassi