Sun, rocks and water – these are the three elements upon which Matera, from very ancient times, has built its identity and this fascination still remains today. Its historic centre, the first site in Basilicata and southern Italy to be included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, is made up of three distinct quarters, Sasso Caveoso, Barisano and Civita. Matera is also known as Città dei Sassi or Sotterranea (city of stones, or underground city) for its exceptionally preserved heritage of rock-cut houses. So as you stroll through the charming alleyways of Matera, you will find houses inserted in ancient caves such as those of Vico Solitario, small rupestrian churches, quarries dating back to prehistoric times, narrow streets, bathed by the sun and scented with moss and stone. For the beauty of its historic heart and its lively cultural life, Matera is the first city of southern Italy to be nominated as European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Places to see
Church of the Saints Peter & Paul
The three historic quarters of the Sassi
The rupestrian churches
The Cave-House of Vico Solitario
Where to sleep in Matera
Although it might seem uncomfortable, what better than to sleep in the cave dwellings, the ‘Sassi’ of Matera. The city’s three historic quarters are dotted with stylish hotels where you will feel part of the life of the city.
When to visit Matera
The best months run from May to the end of September: the mean temperatures are high and reach a peak in August. But spring and autumn, when temperatures are cooler, are also fine for walks and excursions.