A unique scene greets the visitor as they enter the city of Matera. The city of the sassi, one of the world's oldest cities and designated World Heritage Site. From the Palaeolithic period to today, Matera's history has been written across millennia, by human settlements in caves dug into rocks in two enormous natural amphitheatres (Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano), which eventually, and steadily, transformed into more complex structures. Houses, churches, stairways, walkways, gardens and vegetable gardens wonderfully nestled within each other, testimony to the extraordinary capacity of human beings to utilise natural resources, such as the constant temperature of the dug out environments, the calcarenite used for the houses and the employment of slopes to control the flow of water. The upper part of the city has a decidedly medieval feel, with the imposing Matera Cathedral, as well as the churches of San Giovanni Battista, San Domenico and Santa Maria della Valle Verde.
Local cuisine, traditional dishes, interesting facts
The city's cuisine has its origins in the rural peasant cuisine of yesteryear, those crops that were transformed into dishes designed to feed tens of families that lived in the Sassi. Cheeses, meats, handmade pasta, sweets and numerous vegetable based dishes: with turnip featuring particularly strongly, together with cardoncelli mushrooms, as well as wild flowers and plants that grow in the area. Pane di Matera IGP (Matera bread), made with selected re-milled durum wheat flour, the cornerstone on which the gastronomic delights of Matera are built.
Where to eat enjoying a bottle
of Acqua San Benedetto
Via Lucana, 48