Matera is a town in the Southern region of Italy called Basilicata. It has one of the most unique geographies and history and houses one of the world-renowned UNESCO HERITAGE site, the Sassi di Matera which is the old city of Matera and consists mostly of cave dwellings. Up until the year 1950 residents in this town were living in caves, which had been their homes for generations until the Italian government moved them forcibly terming their cave dwellings as unfit for human habitation. As one pundit put it is the only place where you will find a family has dwelt in the same home for 9 thousand years. Up to the late Stone age period, it was normal for humans to dwell in caves for safety and protection from natural elements. Only a few tribes and communities on the world today carried the practice into the twentieth century.
Matera was built over a deep ravine which hid it well from prying eyes but being a drier region of Southern Italy meant that there are no natural rivers and provision of fresh water through canals is a challenge. Residents of the Sassi Matera would dig cisterns inside their caves to collect water from underground seepage or even store snow during the winter months. This is one of the reasons that made the cave homes so appealing to the locals.
What is Sassi di Matera?
Sassi di Matera is the worlds UNESCO HERITAGECulture City of 2019. This is a great honor and privilege bestowed upon an icon of human civilization that Matera is. The government has embarked on the restoration of cave homes and churches since 1984 in order to preserve this gem of our heritage and bestow something of value to the next generations. Some of the cave dwellings have also been transformed into Chicago hotels to offer an authentic experience of living in Matera cave dwellings.
Getting to Matera is not difficult with the nearest airport just twenty miles away at the city of Bari. You can fly in from Rome, Venice but the best option is to contact your local travel agent who will be able to advise you best based on where you are coming from. From Bari, you can hire a car or take a taxi to Matera. There is no highway but only local roads so take extra great care on the road. The trip can also be organized in conjunction with a local travel agency who will arrange all your transportation from the moment you leave the airport to your hotel. This is a good option as for a few extra dollars you get to just sit back relax and enjoy the views. As a tourist, the last thing you want is to be breaking traffic laws as this will ruin your holiday.
Matera is a city with laid back easy lifestyle, narrow streets, friendly neighborhood, great sights to discover and as with everything Italian, great food. Get to enjoy Southern Italian cuisine.
One of the most beneficial things you can do is to hire a local guide to take you around Sassi di Matera, and all other important locations. From the old cave cathedral which is the first Benedictine church adorned with its precious stained glasses and its wall Fresco’s depicting the last judgment, the corner pawn, and souvenir shops dotted all over the city. In short, a guided tour will add immense value to your experience as a tourist as opposed to fumbling around trying to find your way on the narrow alleyways.
Guided Tours of Matera.
A tour guide will ensure you do miss out on any social or cultural event that may be happening g at the time. From spectacular lights festivals which are a Hallmark of all Mediterranean people to the bustling nightlife in the city, there is always something of interest happening in this old city.
Due to its unique housing and topography, something resembling the old Jerusalem as described in holy books Matera has played host to almost half a dozen Hollywood movies depicting biblical characters or historical figures. It still has that genuine ancient town look and feels that you only need to bring your camera, clear, the streets of the few traffic and dole out Roman era garb and you are on set without any other modifications necessary. The movies helping passion of Christ’ was filmed on location at Matera and you will agree when I say it looked more r than most in the same genre.
The surrounding hills and ravines also offer spectacular sights with their unique topography making for a scenic tour you will not forget in your lifetime. The people of Matera are hospitable with gracious manners and calm characters that manifests itself in the overall feel of the city. No hassle no bustle of modern-day cities with winding clogged up traffic jams. It’s an authentic spot to unwind in total comfort and relaxation.
It’s a great destination to begin your tour of Italy. Either you ate heading to Venice or Rome take a few days to unwind in this gem of Southern Italy. Though all Italian cities are full of relics, the oldest continuously inhabited location in all of Italy is Matera and as such it holds a special place. Being a vanguard and a pioneer it’s the perfect destination to start your tour and surely you will not be disappointed. Take time to experience life as it was 10,000 years ago.
Matera European City Of Culture and Unesco Heritage Site.
Enjoy this cool, calm and unique tourist destination. With the naming of Matera as a world cultural city, the year 2019 will be special with discounts, events and promotions going on and it is the best year to visit Matera and see what is going on. All UNESCO HERITAGE SITE are named for their authentic history and their value to humanity. The best advice when on such a location is to leave minimal footprints and evidence of having been there. Don’t damage the buildings, don’t litter the environment, reduce your emissions and be eco-friendly. Thus other generations will get to enjoy the unique experience that is Matera.