Wednesday April 22nd, 2020
Get ready to be fill of wonder and keep your eyes wide, because visiting Matera means letting yourself be conquered by a truly magical place, a treasure chest that opens with every step, a meeting that is both history, culture, tradition, suggestion.
The extraordinary city carved in tuff never stops leaving visitors speechless. And it is here that you must come, not only once in a lifetime, to retrace the history of humanity, from the Paleolithic to today. A tour in the Sassi of Matera will lead you, step by step, in the heart of a unique city, a fascinating and timeless place, a World Heritage Site, which unfolds among numerous rocky churches, natural areas, landscapes of incomparable beauty, museums and many other treasures of the city that, not surprisingly, was the European Capital of Culture of 2019.
The tour in the Sassi of Matera
The first stop in the city is represented by the Sassi, the symbol par excellence of the Lucanian capital. This is the very ancient residential settlement, built in the tufaceous rock, which runs along the side of the Gravina valley. An intricate and evocative maze of caves, once used as houses, that reveal themselves to visitor’s eyes between winding alleys, terraces, gardens, underground tunnels and cave churches.
The tour in the Sassi of Matera begins already when you arrive in the city and the landscape, unique in its kind, stands out under the gaze of the visitor speechless for the spectacular glance, given by this ancient architectural complex, perfectly adapted to the natural context and symbol of a perfect and harmonious coexistence between man and territory.
Considered to be “the national shame” during the 1950s because of the poor hygienic conditions of the cave houses, small in size and often inhabited by large families, they were at some point abandoned. It will be necessary to wait about 30 years for the conservation and recovery interventions of this historical-cultural heritage to give life to a tourist supply chain that has restored splendor to the Sassi.
Today these are distributed over two districts: the Sasso Barisano, the largest district, where today there are mostly shops, restaurants and hotels, and the Sasso Caveoso, or the oldest neighborhood, the one that preserves the appearance of the city intact rock.
The tour in the Sassi takes as one of the first stops to Casa Noha, the first FAI asset in Basilicata, an ancient residence belonging to the extinct noble family of the same name, which today is the center of tourist information and documentation.
Here you can see, projected on the stone walls of the house, the movie “The invisible stones. Extraordinary journey into the history of Matera”, a tale of the history of Matera from Prehistory to today.
The Cave House of Matera
The tour of the Sassi cannot miss a visit to the Cave house of vico Solitario, located in the Sasso Caveoso. Inhabited until 1957 by a family of 11 people (plus animals), this small house consists of a single room, partly excavated and partly built, furnished with original furniture and tools. The cave house represents the heart of the peasant civilization and tells – with its hearth with the kitchen, the bed with the mattress stuffed with corn leaves, the small table with a single plate in the center from which everyone ate, the chamber pot , the frame, the feeder for the animals, the cavity in which the manure used to warm up was collected, the cistern for rainwater – a simple, poor and authentic life, tightly linked, in its survival, to the land.
The Cathedral of Matera is dominating the landscape of the Sassi from above, a jewel of Romanesque architecture, whose construction was completed in 1270, and built in the Civita. The main facade facing the valley, the rose window, the portal, the columns, the bas-reliefs and all the other external and internal elements are the precious testimonies of an ancient spirituality that was told and represented by symbols, all to be discovered.
MUSMA, the museum in a cave
MUSMA is the most important Italian museum entirely dedicated to sculpture, the only “cave” museum in the world, a place where you can experience a perfect symbiosis between the sculptures and some of the most characteristic places carved in the Sassi of Matera. Located in the suggestive setting of Palazzo Pomarici (16th century), it houses an extraordinary collection of contemporary works of art, perfectly set in the cave environments, giving the visitor a truly unique suggestive atmosphere.
MIB: the Immersive Museum of the Madonna della Bruna
A very special museum to narrate the patronal feast of Madonna della Bruna, which has been taking place for more than 600 years, and the essence of motherhood, understood as a spirit of authentic religiosity but also as a secular re-enactment of the culture and peasant roots of the Matera people.
Tour in the Sassi: do not miss place
Also not to be missed are:
- the delightful Church of Santa Maria de Idris which is located in the center of the Sasso Caveoso, with its Byzantine frescoes and where you can admire a fantastic view of the Sassi;
- the church of San Pietro Barisano, which is the largest rock church in Matera, built with tuff boulders;
- a walk through the shopping promenade in via San Biagio, via delle Beccherie and via Ridola.
The best solution to sleep in Matera
For your weekend in Matera with a Sassi tour, do not miss the chance to live a unique experience in a fascinating historical residence such as Palazzo Del Duca. Discover the beauty of its rooms and suites, let yourself be surprised by the history of this place and choose from many packages designed to make your holiday in Matera unforgettable and unique.