Lets cover the basics…
Location: Southern Italy (the middle part) in the region of Basilicata
How to get there: Closest airport is Bari International airport(BRI) from where you can take a regional train or rent a car to Matera. We travelled from Polignano a Mare to Matera by bus and had to walk quite a bit to get to a bus stop that would get us into the ¨Sassi di Matera¨. Next time around, we will arrange a private transfer to avoid walking up a hill under the August sun.
Matera in three words:Cave dwellings, Passion of Christ filming location and undiscovered jewel
How in the world did we end up in Matera, a real-life Flintstone village ? On our trip to Puglia-Alberobello and Pollignano a Mare– we made a detour to stay in a cave in an establishment that dates back to the Stone Age. You might have seen it if you watched the Passion of the Christ. The amazing backdrop is the Sassi (Italian for the ¨stones¨). It is believed to be some of the first human settlements in Italy.
This hidden jewel in Italy was picked as a European Culture Capital for 2019. You still have some time to visit before hoards of tourist start arriving.
Walking around the Sassi transports you back to time, it´s a magical place. We spend three nights in this cave, centrally located on a street that winds down to the Piazza where the church of San Pietro is located and where the street meets the canyon. The town sits on a ridge with deep canyons on both sides.
We visited a modern art sculpture museum housed in a former cave palazzo. Its a bit hard to find but keep asking as its worth it.The juxtaposition of sculpture with the texture of the caves makes this place a must see. After walking around town, we ended our day in a spa where for a low fee ( € 20 p/person) you can use their cave pool and spa for 2 hour . Make sure and make a reservation prior to arriving. This is the best place to relax, detox and burn a few calories from the carb overload.
Matera is known to have the breast bread in Italy. Dont let that dense dark crust fool you, just take a bite pass that heavy crunchy crust and indulge in that pillowy dense interior. We had our best meals not in the Sassi but in the streets that surround it. Matera has amazing views and food. A magical place I would return to.
Highlights of Matera:
- Staying at this cave and wandering around the Sassi di Matera
- Get your sculpture art fix at a museum housed in a former cave palazzo
- Take a dip in a cave pool and detox in a spa
- Get your bread -a dense dark crust meets pillowy interior that mildly sweet-fix
Things on our list that we did not cover:
- Hike to Parco della Murgia Materana
- Check out 9th century frescoes on at the Crypt of the Original Sin
Photos by Bottega53