Italy’s startling cave town of Matera

One hour and 10 minutes from our home stay in Alberobello, The ancient city of Matera is an interesting and unusual site to visit. Situated in the province of Basilicata, Matera and it’s Sassi lie on top of a mountain.

Why Visit Matera

A UNESCO world heritage site, Sassi De Matera are a series of ancient cave dwelling carved out of limestone situated on the edge of a ravine. The Sassi is your must-see attraction in Matera.

These settlements date back to 2000 years BC. According to the English Fodor’s Guide Matera is one the oldest living cities in the world in terms of continuity, which has been inhabited by people living in the same houses as their ancestors for a period as long as 9,000 years.

Unlike other tourist attractions in Italy, the town of Matera has a history of poverty and many of it’s homes are still considered to be unlivable. It had gone through periods where it was classified as the “slum” of Italy. In the 1950’s, the Italian government took action to make the area more livable for its residents. Locals were temporarily relocated to other areas, and restoration efforts began. It was not until the 1970’s when Sassi had completed it’s transformation, residents moved back and the architecture was preserved.

In the past 30 years, the local administration has worked closely with European Union, UNESCO, Italian government and Hollywood to promote the regeneration of the Sassi and attract greater tourism to emphasize it’s cultural history.

My Visit to Matera

My visit to Matera was short but worthwhile. Matera was less than an hour and fifteen minute drive from our local stay in Alberobello, Puglia. Driving in a foreign country can be frustrating. Add a semi-manual car (as an automatic car driver) to the mix, and the driving experience can be ten times more difficult.

Fortunately for my family and I, the drive to Matera was not so bad. We had a few challenges with our navigation system but were eventually able to navigate our way to the ancient city.


The drive was particularly pleasant. We gazed at the empty, flat terrains surrounded us all the way until we reached closer to the sight. This is where the mountainous terrains appeared and eventually led us up into the town of Matera. Once we arrived into the city, we followed signs towards the “Sassi.”

What did I love most about Sassi De Matera?

The positioning of the ancient cave settlements, on the edge of the ravine. The Sassi’s fascinating architecture. Narrow pathways, cave dwellings and rupestrian churches. It’s true what they say, our environment has a great impact on how we feel. Step inside the Sassi and you will forget about modern day living and technology. You will feel as though you have somehow gone back in time.

Our stay in Matera was only a few hours long but the feeling of being somewhere so beautiful, so culturally rich and so pleasantly unique made every minute of our stay worth it.

Share your story of your visit to Matera.

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