June 4th
When we arrive in Matera, I cannot believe my eyes! I feel like I have stepped into a movie. In fact, a lot of movies have been filmed here – including “Passion of the Christ”. Many families who have lived here for thousands of years, were relocated in the 1950’s by the government and it was left as an almost empty shell. Slowly, people started moving back and in the 1990’s the government made a serious effort to work with people to have them move back and restore and refurbish these dwellings. Now, about three thousand people have moved back into the old town areas of Matera ad it has become a tourist attraction with many great restaurants and several good hotels and B&B’s. The old town areas are known as “Sassi”. The homes are built into the mountain where they have dug out caves. The mountain is a combination of limestone and sandstone, so it is easier to dig out than to build new structures. The roof of one house becomes the floor, path, stairway or road to another house. Thousands of stairs and pathways lead between these structures. Chimneys pop up in strange places. People have been living in these caves for 9000 years. We met several people who have ancestors going back centuries and they still live here in Matera, if not the old town, then the new town that borders the old towns. So easy to get lost here, as stairs lead to no-where. This stone city is a convoluted array of arches, alleys, pathways, stairs and squares bordered with caves that are abandoned and caves that have been converted into trendy dwellings and locations for businesses and restaurants. There are also several churches. Fascinating.

mt 102
The dwellings in Matera
mt 103
These caves have not been refurbished
mt 104
mt 105
Our first sight of Matera
mt 106
Ravine and river that runs next to Matera
mt 107mt 108mt 109
mt 113
Arches from previous eras incorporated
mt 116mt 117mt 119mt 121mt 122
mt 125
Capers grow wild here too
mt 126mt 129mt 130mt 131mt 134mt 135mt 136mt 137
mt 138
After the tourists have left, local kids come out to play