« It’s a very strange town, sat on three valleys with churches at the top and houses hanging under them…By night it resembles a starry sky. »
(Giovan Battista Pacichelli, Il Regno di Napoli in Prospettiva).
The timeless landscape and its incomparable forms, colors and visions make Matera a unique place in the world, World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 1993 and European Capital of Culture 2019.
On his way back home, the visitor has a new light in his eyes. The white stones of the small alleys, the blue sky, the chancing colour of the walls behind which the history of the world lives.
The third oldest town in the world, Matera has been uninterruptedly inhabited since the Paleolithic Age. Its name’s origins have not been established yet.
It could either have been named after the Roman Consul Metello or after the initials of the two old seaside towns Metapontum and Heraclea.
The oldest settlement si the Civita, that dominates the two valleys of Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso.
The new wooden bridge built to link both sides of a deep ravine links the “Sassi” to the Parco della Murgia Materana.
The sassi are a big maze of houses, culverts, churches and caves dug upon each other, where the streets often coincide with the roof of dwellings underneath.
One of these rural cave houses is the Casa Grotta Vico Solitario, whose spaces and furniture faithfully reproduce life in the satti till the sixties.After having been abandoned in the 60s, the Sassi have been undergoing a continuous process of renovation and requalification.
IIn 1993 Matera became the first town in Southern Italy to be added to the “World Heritage List” of Unesco. From the belvedere in Piazzetta Pascoli, you will be able to admire the incredible landscape of the Sassi and the Murgia, and you will understand the reason why the town has been chosen as a background for several movies. The splendid panorama of Parco della Murgia Materana and the wonderful rupestrian Churches of Santa Maria de Idris, San Giovanni in Monterrone or the Cathedral will open in front of you.
From 1663 to 1806 Matera was capital of the Giustizierato di Basilicata in the Reign of Naples. Nowadays it is a small town (60.500 inhabitants), the second town of the region for population.
Thanks to the sacrifice of its population during the second World War Matera has been awarded the Silver Medal to Military Valour.
In 1952 a national law decided the evacuation of the Sassi and authorized the construction of new housing units in the new town, where more than 20.000 people went to live.
In 1986 a new national law funded the restoration of the old Sassi, that had been abandoned 30 years before.
Finally, the Sassi were declared World Heritage Site by the Unesco, whereas on 17th October 2014 it was nominated European Captal of Culture 2019.