"From Shameful Slum to UNESCO Seal of Approval" Top 5 Page for this destination Matera by hquittner

Matera Travel Guide: 67 reviews and 200 photos

A Typical Italian Hilltown

Matera (55K pop) sits at the top of a ravine carved in its limestone outcrop by a narrow river (Gravina di Matera). Aside from its (in)famous Sassi it has a couple of 3* modern hotels, restaurants, an interesting Romanesque Cathedral, other churches a good Archeology Museum and an Art Museum boasting modern works by its "inherited son" Carlo Levi.(If you are unfamiliar with his story read our General Tip in Basilicata).Remember to schedule a guided tour of the Sassi. There are no roads, only wlaking paths and maps are confusing.

The City Center

The Piazza Vittorio Veneto lies at the center of the "old town". It is here that the passagiata occurs. The "new city" of tenements ,hospitals and playgrounds yhat the government erected is on a separate hill,; the evidences of industry are in another district. The social engineering is hard to see for the tourist. Outside of town we passed a giant Natuzzi furniture factory and in a shop window we were struck by the fine lines of the products. (We bought a piece of theirs last year here in N.O., quite inexpensive!) Only time will tell. Beneath the Piazza they have recently excavated a Roman hypogeum (no visiting as yet) and next to it the fountain is for the Caduti ( a War Memorial).

Fine Living of Yesteryear

The origins of the poverty of the peasants of Matera resides in the oppressive Spanish rule of the "Two Sicilies". Like on the companion island, rich palazzi and churches remain. The old townspeople seem unaware of the "change", or maybe it is my imagination. Many young people believe that modernity and tourism will take hold and there will be a golden future, but it is easiest to get here by car and that is not where tourism is in Italy

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:There is much more than the Sassi
  • Cons:It is hard to get to Matera by yourself
  • In a nutshell:The reward of travel is seeing. Getting here is a challenge.
  • Last visit to Matera: Apr 2001
  • Intro Updated Aug 9, 2005
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Reviews (12)

Comments (7)

  • HenriettaStackpole's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    We made it to Matera by a five hour bus ride from Naples. What an amazing place! Maps have improved recently and we were able to tour the sassi and churches without a guide.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    We travel to Italy as often as we can and this depicts we still have a lot to see. Thank you for the tour and great comments with super pictures.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 12, 2008 at 1:53 AM

    Interesting historical tips! I never knew (for instance) that people used to brand their bread before baking it in the communal oven.

  • karentids's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    Greetings from Leeds. Your pages are excellent and so informative, thank you. We are planning on exploring Basilicata in April.

  • Don12's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2007 at 4:19 PM

    Well documented tips and interesting photos. They would serve any serious student of the local history well. Alas I am not one of those, however I can appreciate the depth and quality of your research

  • Feb 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM

    It is still posssible to find good artisan bread in many towns and cities in the U.S.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2006 at 3:20 PM

    Another excellent page with great information, super photos, and well written narratives.


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