A “Sassi” Life in Matera (Part II)

April 15, 2016 / Places
Matera, Basilicata

(…cont’d from Part I)

La Città Nella Roccia — The Town Carved Out of the Rock

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Nestled in the “arch” of the boot between Puglia and Campania, Basilicata was, until recently, a lesser known and less visited region of Italy. However, with the surge in popularity of Matera and its unique Sassi this region is is being “discovered” for its uniqueness and rich history.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

While part of the town of Matera spreads out across the Murgia Plateau, the Sassi district is undeniably the main attraction and for good reason. With its complex network of caves, cisterns, rock-cut houses and churches separated and connected by alleyways, archways, terraces, overlapping streets on top of dwellings and steep flights of steps (and I do mean steep!) the Sassi is a fascinating maze to explore on foot.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

After the decision to move the inhabitants out, work began in the late 50’s-early 60’s to restore the old houses and rock cut churches. This resurgence in re-development and investment has transformed many of the dwellings into cave hotels, private homes, restaurants, and shops.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

Dedicated to preserving its unique heritage, both the ancient dwellings as well as new museums and tourist services are faithfully restored to enhance their original features.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

Described as the “most ancient living city in the world”, in 1993 the Sassi became a Unesco World Heritage Site and in October, 2014, Matera was awarded the title of the 2019 European Capital of Culture, the fourth Italian city to garner this honor.

Photo by Victoria De Maio

The Commissioner predicted, ”I am convinced that the title will bring Matera and its surrounding area significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits, as we have seen with previous European Capitals…”

Photo by Victoria De Maio

This recognition, along with the infusion of millions of euros, being featured prominently featured in travel journals and magazines, and the rise in tourism, will doubtless usher Matera into a new era.

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

Her book, Victoria’s Travel Tipz Italian Style, is available on Amazon.

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4 Responses to “A “Sassi” Life in Matera (Part II)”

  1. Torre Newman

    I have been to this place and in the caves you picture. I was there with a volunteer group to help restore the cave frescos and wooden carvings. Wish I could post a picture for you because 2 of mine match up with 2 in this article.

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Fantastic, Torre! Which frescoes and wooden carvings did you work on? How long were you there…how fascinating and what a worthwhile volunteer adventure! Brava!
      V.

      Reply
  2. Ginny Siggia

    If I were to build a dollhouse, it would end up looking like a hill town. (Why stop at one dwelling?) So beautiful.

    Reply
  3. George pantozzi

    Simply Beautiful my friends are visiting n loving Matera

    Reply

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