Matera town Basilicata region What to see Best hidden gems in italy
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Matera is a small village, tucked away along the cliffs of the Basilicata region, recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The first traces of inhabitants in Matera date back to 30,000 years ago.
This makes Matera one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in human history. The most spectacular thing about Matera are certainly the ancient settlements in the caves but even without them, Matera is still an unusual and striking place, one which is certainly worth visiting.
The whole town is a glorious, medieval vision of tiny alleys, sweeping views, and sleepy squares with enchanting restaurants that serve traditional food that you won’t find in any other place in Italy. Finally, the 150 churches of Matera, hidden between the caves and the surrounding countryside contain some of Italy’s oldest frescoes outside of the Roman catacombs.

Matera, Basilicata's jewel, may be the world's third-longest continuously inhabited human settlement. Natural caves in the tufa limestone, exposed as the Gravina cut its gorge, attracted the first inhabitants perhaps 7000 years ago.
More elaborate structures were built atop them.
Today, looking across the gorge to Matera’s huddled sassi (cave dwellings) it seems you've been transported back to the ancient Holy Land.

The way to start your visit to Matera is to wander around the sassi districts, looking at the cramped town above its ravine, and the tumbling grey stone facades, which appear to be houses but turn out to be caves.
If you are just passing through, with only a casual interest, this plus a visit to a reconstructed cave-dwelling will suffice for a taste of the town.
But to make the most of a trip to Matera, and to understand what you're seeing, it really helps to have some context.
After an initial independent exploration, we'd suggest taking a guided tour, reading a guidebook, visiting a cave-life reconstruction and one of the local museums.
To 'see' Matera thoroughly, and to get an idea of the living conditions for the former cave-dwellers, you should spend at least a day in the town.
For those who want to absorb more of the history and unique atmosphere, to explore the quieter spots and visit museums and churches, we'd recommend staying at least two nights in Matera.

Cave dwellers have inhabited Matera for centuries making it one the first human settlements in Italy. People were actually still living in these caves until the 1950s when the city relocated everyone because of widespread malaria and poor living conditions.

One of the most gorgeous things you can see in Matera while strolling through its fabulous city centre is the sassi, which literally mean ‘stones’. This traditional architecture is the reason why it has been included on UNESCO’s heritage list. Choose one of the several panoramic viewpoints and get ready to take a lot of pictures.
Matera is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the world. People have lived in the town since Paleolithic era. Life in Matera was not always easy; people used to live in the ancient sassi and considered them shameful, a symbol of poverty. Today, sassi are among the most beautiful architectural structures in the whole world and because of them and their uniqueness, Matera has also been declared the European Capital City of Culture for 2018.
Matera, and the surrounding archaeological park of Murgia Materana, are home to more than 100 churches, which host exceptional decorations and works of art. Don’t be surprised if you see Greek-Orthodox churches built near Roman-Latin temples; here, it’s totally normal and if you have time, we suggest you visit as many churches as you can.

The Civita is the oldest part of Matera. It represents the first town settlement which has been inhabited for about 4000 years. Built on a hill overlooking the Gravina, Matera’s ravine, the Civita is dominated by the imposing Duomo, the Cathedral.
It is home to a number of spectacular mansions. Just so you find your bearings easily, the Civita is the part of Matera situated between the two Sassi.

Some of the sassi have also been renovated and restored as stylish residences with all the trappings of modern life such as WiFi, cable TV and air conditioning. However, not all the sassi have been renovated and there are long stretches of uninhabited sassi in various stages of arrested decay.
While Matera is a little isolated and difficult to reach, it is one of Italy’s most picturesque and inspiring destinations and well worth the effort.

Matera used to be a source of shame for Italy as recently as the 1950s people lived in the town’s caves without electricity, water, or a sewage system, and the rate of infant mortality was high.
Carlo Levi’s book Christ stopped at Eboli alerted many people to the plight of Materans, and people were moved into new homes.

Life in Matera has never stopped: it’s the inhabited city since it was built, the city in which, from the Paleolithic era to the present day, you can retrace the history of man who lived here, using local resources and integrating perfectly with it.
Matera is a unique city, an extraordinary timeless place.
It’s also the city of the famous Sassi, the first site in southern Italy declared a World Heritage Site.
I’ts the city of the rupestrian churches, the natural areas with different species of flora and fauna, rural traditions, landscapes of incomparable beauty.

Casa Noha is a museum that showcases the history of this unique Italian town. A 25-minute video exposition helps visitors better understand the Sassi, Matera, and its people.
The Matera Cathedral is a 13th-century church built in Romanesque style. It sits atop Civitas Hill and offers stunning views of the Sasso Barisano, one of the most picturesque areas in Matera.
The Church of Madonna de Idris is a small church cut into a large rock. What makes this church so unique are the beautiful fresco paintings on the walls, dating from the 12th – 17th-centuries.
Among the Matera Italy caves, Casa Grotta stands out for being a former cave home. The inside is still furnished and made to reflect the living conditions of the past. It offers an interesting glimpse into what life would have been like living in the Sassi.
In ancient times, the Palombaro Lungo was the biggest water tank in Matera. Take a tour of this underground water cistern, located under the main square in Matera. Learn how water was managed and see the ancient architecture of water storage.
The Crypt of Original Sin is a cave in southern Italy filled with thousand-year-old biblical frescoes.
Head to the “Viewpoint of Matera and the Sassi in Murgia Timone” for excellent views of the caves from across the valley.
Matera is divided into two districts, the Sassi Barisano and Sassi Caveoso. You could spend a whole day exploring the Sassi on foot!
The Park of Matera’s Cave Churches is located across the ravine from Matera. Discover ancient caves and crevices as you walk around the unchanged landscape, still amazingly preserved. It is rich in Palaeolithic villages, rupestrian churches, and well-preserved frescoes.

Matera has become more well known in recent years thanks to being awarded the Capital of Culture 2019, but this fascinating spot, one of the longest inhabited human settlements in the world is a must visit. The selection of caves that make up the Sassi, the old part of the city which is now surrounded by the new section, is incredible to explore. The inhabitants all left these cave-like homes when disease was rife, but they are now open to discover with the history of poverty left behind.
If the accommodation prices in Matera make you bulk, then staying at relatively nearby Massafra or Castellaneta, which are more off the beaten path, are good bets.
Both are much quieter and relaxing, but offer plenty of lesser discovered attractions.
Whether you explore the castle of Massafra and marvel at its old Viaduct or visit the beaches or perched town of Castellaneta, this triangle of close by spots provides plenty of fascinating history to discover.

Matera è una città unica, un luogo straordinario senza tempo.
Matera è una città situata su un affioramento roccioso in Basilicata, nell'Italia Meridionale. Include l'area dei Sassi, un complesso di Case Grotta scavate nella montagna.
Evacuati nel 1952 a causa delle misere condizioni di vita, i Sassi ospitano ora musei come la Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, con mobili e utensili artigianali d'epoca.
Una delle vicine chiese rupestri è Santa Lucia alle Malve, con affreschi del XIII secolo.

Visitare Matera è come fare un viaggio nel passato, in un grande museo a cielo aperto dove ancora sono ben visibili i segni di un'epoca ormai remota. Passeggiare per Matera è scoprire le tracce di passato che ancora resiste, nelle abitazioni, nelle strade e nelle grotte. Viaggiare a Matera è assaporarne l'essenza, nei vicoletti, nelle zone cavernose, lungo le stradine bianche riarse dal sole dove percepire il misticismo della città e la sua dolente bellezza (parafrasando Carlo Levi).

Matera seconda città della Basilicata è ferma al tempo andato, ma è attaccata al presente: non è un caso che sia stata eletta Capitale Europea della Cultura 2019.
Da che ne se ne ricordi, Matera è abitata da sempre; ci sono testimonianze risalenti al paleolitico che convivono serenamente con costruzioni ben più recenti, nel corso dei millenni l'uomo ha saputo adattarsi egregiamente a questo territorio incredibile, senza deturparlo.
Il labirintico intrico di stradine, grotte scavate nel ventre della terra e chiese rupestri risale a 9000 anni fa.

Gli anni passano, ma le cose non cambiano: Matera, incredibile città scolpita nel tufo continua a lasciare i visitatori senza parole.
La vita a Matera non si è mai fermata: è la città abitata da sempre, la città in cui, dal Paleolitico ad oggi, è possibile ripercorrere la storia dell’uomo che discretamente si è insediato qui, utilizzando le risorse del territorio ed integrandosi perfettamente con esso, senza violarlo.
E’ la città dei celebri Sassi, il primo sito del sud Italia dichiarato Patrimonio dell’Umanità dall’Unesco, delle numerose chiese rupestri, delle aree naturali che comprendono diversi habitat al cui interno vivono diverse specie faunistiche e floristiche, delle tradizioni contadine, dei paesaggi di incomparabile bellezza.
Ma Matera è anche la città dei tesori nascosti, dei musei, dei festival, dei concerti, dei percorsi multimediali.

Dichiarati patrimonio mondiale dell’umanità dall’Unesco nel 1993, i Sassi, che costituiscono il centro storico della città di Matera, sono un dedalo di scale, passaggi, vicoli, minuscole abitazioni e grandi palazzi, terrazze che sono spesso tetti degli edifici sottostanti, facciate in muratura su ambienti ricavati nella roccia, cisterne e chiese scavate nel tufo.
I sassi si dividono in due quartieri, il Sasso Barisano e il Sasso Caveoso. Il sasso Barisano, il più grande, è caratterizzato dalla presenza di negozi, ristoranti e alberghi mentre il Sasso Caveoso è il quartiere più antico che maggiormente conserva l’aspetto della città rupestre.
Per apprezzarne appieno la loro unicità vanno visitati a piedi perdendosi tra vicoli, scale e piazze panoramiche da cui godere degli incantevoli panorami che la Murgia materana vi saprà regalare.

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