Tuesday, 30 July 2013

one day in Matera

arriving at Matera leaves you open mouthed. before this trip, i had seen some pictures and videos about the most ancient and famous part of the city, i Sassi di Matera {which means Matera's stones}but i didn't expect such a strong emotion. marco and i were completely in awe. 

we stayed in the Sassi less than 24 hours {we had to continue our southern italy road trip to Calabria}, and  spent most of the time wandering in the narrow streets, taking pictures, tasting the local cousine, drinking red Aglianico, smelling the soul of this incredible town.

there are some cities where getting lost is a must. for me, this has always been Venice's prerogative. now, i know it belongs to Matera's Sassi, too.
historically, the Sassi was a poor neighborhood. the houses are dug into the rock. some of them look like caverns, and the tiny roads zigzag between roofs, starways, courtyards.
at dawn and dusk, the sunlight gives to the town a golden aura, and it looks even more beautiful. 

until 1950, people lived here in a situation of extreme poverty and alarming hygienic condition, so the italian
government forcefully relocated the Sassi's population to a new and modern area of the city. the neighborhood was mostly abandoned until the end of 1980s, and lots of houses are still empty and unlivable.

the town got an unique atmosphere, as if it were out of time and space. actually, while we were walking down the streets, we joked about being in Jerusalem instead of Matera. we've never been to Jerusalem but in our imagination it's how it looks like. and we are not alone in thinking that, cause the Sassi became Jerusalem on screen in three movies {Pasolini, 1964 -Beresford, 1985 - Gibson, 2004}

what you should not miss in a day in Matera? while you're wandering around, pay attention to the many rupestrian churches, carved from the soft volcanic rock. the most important are the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Bruna {Madonna della Bruna, the city's patron saint, has been celebrated for over 600 years on July 2nd with a great festival}, followed by San Pietro Caveoso and San Pietro Barisano.

we loved our visit to the MUSMA, museum of contemporary sculpture. even if contemporary art is not your cup of tea, the building where the museum is housed is worth a visit. 
then, to take a look at the old water collection system is interesting. for Matera inhabitants, the main problem was the water supply. enormous cisterns and channels to collect rainwater are still visible and visitable, under Piazza Vittorio Veneto. 
i'm glad we came. i can still feel the fresh air of the night on my arms, and hear the voice of a street singer, velvety but heartbreaking, that was our romantic serenade. 

info & tips

we stayed at Basiliani Hotel and loved it.
great location, nice design and good breakfast. the owners are the kindest and gave us the map of the Sassi and many useful informations to know our way around.
Basiliani Hotel
Rione Casalnuovo 115  75100 Matera

for gelato lovers like me, do not miss a gelateria called i Vizi degli Angeli {the vices of the angels}
I Vizi degli Angeli
via Domenico Ridola, 36  75100 Matera

a glass of wine and a local meal, with a original twist at La Gatta Buia
La Gatta Buia
via Regina Margherita  75100 Matera

{nikon em/nikon f-801, fujicolor 200} 


  1. Bello Silvia, sono tentata di fermarmi per una visita durante la strada del rientro dalla Puglia la prossima settimana. Spero di farcela, mi hai fatto venire una certa curiosità...

    1. grazie Vale! se riesci vai, vale veramente la pena. dall'uscita dell'autostrada di Bari non è lontanissimo. fammi sapere :)

  2. Matera è davvero un bel posto! Se ti piace così tanto perderti per i vicoli dei centri storici, ti consiglio i paesini del sud, per esempio della Valle d'Itria ;)

    1. grazie
      i posti dove andare sono sempre tantissimi e sempre troppo poco tempo!! non conosco quasi nulla del sud Italia, mi piacerebbe vedere di più. mi segno la Valle d'Itria per un futuro viaggio in Puglia allora :)

  3. Oh my god, I Sassi di Matera is an incredible place! I have never seen anything like it! It looks so exotic, old and extremely fascinating! I bet you would have wanted to explore every single house, if you had the time and permission to do that - I especially wonder what remains in the houses that are no longer inhabited!
    Thanks for sharing this, Silvia!
    The colours of the photographs are warm and nostalgic, which suits perfectly the mood of the town the way you have described it here. Lovely!

    1. i'm so glad you like it polly ♥
      it doesn't look like the "italy" we know at all, right? i was surprised too.

  4. This is an incredibly beautiful place. I love the photographs you too. I too, am in awe.

  5. Aspettavo questo tuo post sin da quando ho sentito che eri in procinto di partire per la Basilicata. Non avrei potuto aspettarmi di meglio.
    Pensa che prendevamo in giro un mio amico materano dicendo che la sua terra d'origine non è Matera, bensì Gerusalemme. Ovviamente lo dicevamo in modo scherzoso, dal momento che per me è una gran fortuna quella di vivere in un posto capace di portarti immediatamente indietro nel tempo. Come se la tecnologia fosse lontana anni luce..
    E pare che anche la gente del posto sia più genuina. Almeno questo ho potuto sperimentare con i lucani che ho conosciuto all'università :)

    1. grazie mille Manuela, sei troppo carina! sono contenta di aver in parte soddisfatto le tue aspettative. purtroppo essendomi fermata poco non ho avuto l'opportunità di conoscere gente del luogo.. spero di recuperare prima o poi.

  6. Non vedo l'ora di vedere Matera, mai vista prima e tanto desiderata!

    1. come si è già capito dal post, consiglio vivamente di visitarla! grazie di essere passata di qui Serena :)

  7. I always knew I want to visit Europe one day but your pictures put a new yearning in me. :) They're beautiful!

    1. thank you for your comment katie, and welcome :)
      i hope someday you'll come to Europe! i'd love to see Taiwan,too! i've been there just for a couple of hours, in a stopover between Tokyo and Bangkok

    2. I love that we could all meet up in Italy :)
      it would be a blast!

    3. It would a dream come true. :)

  8. Summer in Italy is always special! (... and sometimes it looks a lot like my country XD) and, my god, Matera is *amazing* and the warm tone you captured is just lovely!


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