Matera, a small town nestled in the region of Basilicata in Southern Italy, is like a living museum. Its ancient cave dwellings, known as Sassi, and stunning landscapes make it one of Italy's most unique destinations. Matera has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, and its intricate blend of history, culture, and cuisine makes it a place that should be on every traveler's bucket list.


  1. Pane di Matera: Matera's bread is one of its most famous exports. Made using a centuries-old recipe, it has a distinctive taste and texture.
  2. Cavatelli: These small shell-shaped pasta are typical of the region, often served with rich tomato sauces or vegetables.
  3. Crapiata: A traditional Materan soup made with legumes and grains.
  4. Lucanian Sausages: These are dried sausages made of pork and typically flavored with fennel seeds.
  5. Aglianico Wine: This rich, full-bodied red wine is perfect to pair with the hearty cuisine of Matera.


  1. Sassi di Matera: The ancient cave dwellings carved into the limestone, known as Sassi, are a must-see. They are among the oldest human settlements in Europe.
  2. Festivals: Matera hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the Matera Balloon Festival and the Women's Fiction Festival.
  3. Craftsmanship: The region is known for its artisans and craftsmen. Look for locally made ceramics, textiles, and carved wooden items.
  4. Music and Film: Matera has been a backdrop for many films, including "The Passion of the Christ." The city also hosts a variety of music events throughout the year.

Travel Tips

  1. Comfortable Shoes: Matera requires a lot of walking, often on uneven surfaces, so comfortable shoes are essential.
  2. Book Accommodations Early: Matera is gaining popularity, and accommodations can fill up quickly, especially in the Sassi districts.
  3. Guided Tours: To fully understand the history and significance of the Sassi, consider taking a guided tour.
  4. Car Rental: Renting a car is highly recommended if you plan to explore the surrounding regions.
  5. Sustainable Travel: Be mindful of the impact of tourism on this ancient site and make efforts to travel sustainably.

Interesting Facts

  1. Matera is among the world's most ancient cities with an unbroken chain of habitation.
  2. The Sassi di Matera was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
  3. In 2019, Matera was honored with the European Capital of Culture title.
  4. The town's ancient cisterns form one of the largest water collection systems in the world.

Top Places

  1. Sassi Districts: The Sassi, divided into Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, are the ancient cave dwellings at the heart of Matera.
  2. Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario: This cave house museum offers insight into life in the Sassi.
  3. Matera Cathedral: Constructed in the 13th century, this cathedral is a magnificent representation of Romanesque architecture.
  4. MUSMA (Museum of Contemporary Sculpture Matera): Housed in a cave, it showcases sculptures from the 20th and 21st centuries.
  5. Parco della Murgia Materana: This park offers stunning views of the Sassi and contains ancient rock churches.
  6. Palombaro Lungo: Visit this great underground water cistern to understand how water is collected and stored.
  7. Tramontano Castle: Although never completed, this 16th-century castle is worth visiting for its architecture and city views.

Matera is a hauntingly beautiful city that captures the essence of human history and the resilience of its inhabitants. Whether you're wandering through the ancient Sassi, sampling the hearty cuisine, or exploring the rugged landscapes surrounding the town, Matera offers an enriching and humbling travel experience. This city, where history is seamlessly interlaced within its very stones, beckons you to become a chapter in its enduring tale and invites you to be part of its ongoing story.