Matera is a fascinating town in Southern Italy. The second town in Basilicata with its 60000 inhabitants is situated on a rocky outcrop which makes it unique
Thanks to the historic districts “Sassi” (letterally “Stones“) is one of the oldest inhabited towns in the world. The Sassi make this town so famous. Matera is also known as Città dei Sassi (Sassi town) or Città Sotterranea (Underground town). The Sassi are the caves dug into the rock where the inhabitants of the place lived until the immediate post-war period. In 1952 the Sassi were abandoned because of the poor life conditions. The population was transferred to the new modern districts. Afterwards the neighborhoods with those caves, the stones, would have become the symbol of Matera, hosting museums and rock churches.
Visiting Matera, one has the sensation of reliving a forgotten past. This evocative town is reminiscent of a nativity scene and in fact is called “the second Bethlehem”. In Matera several films have been set including The Passion by Mel Gibson and Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel according to Matteo) by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Mel Gibson says of Matera: “Actually the first time I saw Matera I lost my mind because it was just perfect”.
In 1993 Matera is declared a Unesco World Heritage. Matera has also been designated European Capital of Culture for 2019.