(Around Puglia VI:) Matera

Venue: Matera, Basilicata

Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

Music: Now we are free (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9zxany7e10)

Our next stop after Alberobello was Matera, one of the main cities in the region of Basilicata where we decided to spend two nights. As already stated, Matera is not really in Puglia but is fairly nearby so that it makes sense to combine the trip. And it truly is worth the small detour as it is probably the most memorable and out-of-this-world place that I’ve visited in Italy. The history of Matera is really unique: it used to be an extremely poor place where people actually lived in cave-like houses called “sassi” up until the 50es of 20th century. The medieval conditions were considered inhumane even by the government of Italy so by a state law the people were actually moved out to completely new neighborhoods. So the old town with the sassi was deserted for a few decades before people starting realizing how unique the atmosphere is. Now it’s slowly being populated back and tourism is on the rise; in 2019 Matera became the European capital of culture together with Plovdiv (which you might have seen in https://kirilson.com/2018/06/03/southeast-bulgarian-road-trip-i-plovdiv/). Enough said – here are some photos showing you what Matera is really like.

A restaurant in the sassi – I wasn’t joking when saying cave-like. Actually Matera is situated on the side of a limestone canyon and the houses are built on top and around natural caves.
Unfortunately the bad weather stayed with us during our visit in Matera, but somehow this really fit well with the atmosphere of the place. Many of the old town houses are still deserted and the overall feeling is rather eerie and ghostly during low tourist season.
The town itself is surrounded by the canyon so some of the views are really stunning.
A panorama of the sassi, all built on top of each other. A perfect place to see what the medieval times looked like, I imagine. Many movie directors seem to agree with me as they often come to shoot here.
Another shot at the same church on the rocks from two photos back.
A panoramic view including the river Gravina below.
Cannot imagine a more medieval sight than this.
Even the churches in the historic centre of Matera were deserted at the time and now give off the same unique eerie feel as the rest of the town.
A scary statue inside the church.
A more richly decorated church that I presume is slightly more modern than the rest of the place.
Of course Matera is in Italy so little colorful cobblestone cafes are abundant.
Another panorama of the sassi and the surrounding canyon.
Several of the houses are now serving as a museum with various stuff kept from the 50es.
The most unique object in Matera is the colorful hen-whistle, the “cuccu“, which brings good luck and serves to keep the evil spirits away. After staying two nights in Matera I think we truly understood why people invented the cuccu.
An evening panorama of the sassi.
A similar shot to the one above; I just couldn’t decide which one is better.
On the morning before departure: one last shot of the sassi together with Guinny , our little penguin.


24 thoughts on “(Around Puglia VI:) Matera

  1. Since it was abandoned for some time, I would think that updated sewer and water lines would take time before it could be totally re-inhabited or is that already in place? It seems fascinating. Great photos.


  2. I liked the café shot with ying yang table and a buddha statue in the window sill. And that in super catholic Italia! Go figure. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s