Matera, Italy

Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 03:34 AM
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Matera, Italy

Two of us want to spend a night or two in a cave in Matera next April. Looks very complicated and ask your help in deciding where to stay. No car. Assume we can get a taxi from a Trulli in Alberobello. Will
they be able to drop us off at the cave?
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 04:20 AM
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There are many cave hotels in Matera. Yes, a taxi would be able to drop you off at the one you choose, or very close to it. I liked Locanda San Martino, with several cave rooms, but there are many others in various price ranges.


http://www.locandadisanmartino.it/ro...suite/?lang=en
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 04:32 AM
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They're not caves. They are dwellings constructed by excavating in the soft tufa stone. So basically they're stone houses built into a cliff face.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 07:44 AM
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Thanks for that info.

They do call them caves in guidebooks, in the press, and on the hotel website that I posted, so it is no wonder that many tourists refer to them as such. Even UNESCO refers to them as caves.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/tr...cata-next.html


https://www.smithsonianmag.com/trave...gem-180949445/

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/670/
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 08:09 AM
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I don't think finding the lodging should be a problem, but I wonder if you'll be able to get a taxi from Alberobelo - it's over an hour away (something like 70 km). I guess anything is possible if you have enough money. I did once take a taxi from Slovenia to Italy so long distance taxis are sometimes available but I wouldn't assume it without checking.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 08:47 AM
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This past September we spent four nights in Matera at the outstanding Palazzo Degli Abati hotel. The property is located in the Sassi and was one of the coolest/neatest/cleanest hotels we've ever stayed in. In its former life our room was part cave and part kitchen of the former abbey. The shower, which is very large, was the former kitchen fireplace chimney.

The hotel sent us driving instructions, which I could not locate and went on quite afield trip once we arrived in Matera. The instructions did mention not to trust a GPS and they were correct.

Maybe you could consider taking a bus from Alberbello to Matera and then take a taxi to your hotel.

Matera is a very unique place to visit, so go and have fun.

Buon viaggio,
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 11:02 AM
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Matera is wonderful and I suggest you don't miss it. I'm not sure about "a taxi" but I am sure that you easily find a driver to take you from Alberbello to Matera. I would ask at the hotels on either end for a recommendation.

You can train or bus through Bari but it's a much longer trip. A car service is probably the easiest. This ought to cost around 100€.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 11:26 AM
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We stayed at Ai Terrazzini in Matera, a small cave hotel or guesthouse.
We were very satisfied with it.
The location was very convenient - very lose to good restaurants and the main stroll between the 2 main neighbourhoods.
Quiet too, except when s film crew started shooting a night-time car chase around 11 PM. Cave interiors aren't as silent as you might expect them to be.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 11:37 AM
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We spent two nights at Matera, staying at a b&b, la dolce vita.

http://www.ladolcevitamatera.it/

We travelled by train from Bari, taking about an hour.

Great b&b, great host.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 12:39 PM
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The site of Matera has been occupied since Paleolithic times, and surely the earliest inhabitants lived in caves. However, for centuries the city has been expanded by carving more and more spaces into the rock, so that little or nothing is left of any caves that might have been there. Most of the dwellings have modern doors and windows on the facade, and it's only when you enter that you see that they are unusual.

If you go into a cave and begin enlarging the space, squaring it off, carving out alcoves and additional rooms, leaving stone to form doorways, then what you have at the end is no longer a cave, just as Michelangelo's Pietà is no longer a block of marble.

The English-language Wikipedia article explains the construction fairly well. Calling them caves, I think, gives a false impression. The Italian name, "I Sassi", means "the stones". This picture, from an Italian tourism site, shows what the buildings look like, and I think no one would imagine something like this based on the word "caves".

http://www.basilicatanet.com/public/...ges/matera.jpg

The churches are very interesting. Some have interior pillars. These serve no structural purpose, since there is no need of support for a space carved out of the rock. They were left in the space, because the image of a church is that it should have columns. Also, as our guide explained, over the centuries, the paintings in the church were replaced by others; in this case the earlier work was scraped or chiseled off, so that unlike in the usual historical building, the lowest layers are the most recent.

The first photo on the Unesco page is also illustrative of the constructions:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/670/

If you look at the photo and think about it for a minute, you'll realize that the empty space was subtracted from the solid rock. It's obviously not a natural cave which was filled with columns and arches; the stone is all one piece. What is constructed isn't walls, ceilings and floors, it's empty space.

Another interesting fact is that on the roofs of a lower level, there were streets, gardens, and even cemeteries. Someone observed that here the living were underground and the dead above ground.

The Italian word "cave" means "quarry", or by extension, a hollowed out space, or the type of graduated seating used in a stadium. (The stadium seating gives a good image of the layout of the old town with the higher levels over the lower levels.) I wonder if that has led to mistranslations in the hotel brochures. It wouldn't explain the liberal use of the word "cave" in the New York Times or Smithsonian articles. Both articles do mentioned carving out of the rock.

I was mistaken about the type of rock; I thought it was tufo, but I see it was really calcarenite.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 03:13 PM
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I also stayed and and highly recommend the Locada San Martino right in the sassi district.

No car is needed to get to Alberobello – check rome2rio.com for your options. Just be sure to follow the links to which it directs you, as the main rome2rio site is not sensitive to seasonal variation in public transportation schedules.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 06:42 PM
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We stayed in Hotel San Giorgio in Matera. A variety of rooms spread over the area.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 11:16 PM
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Loved locanda San Martino also, the best part is the spa, as seen on their website, pools carved into the rock.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2017, 11:57 PM
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I loved the Locanda San Martino even before it had a spa! I might still be there if it had that spa when I visited. ;-)
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