Fodor's Expert Review Sassi di Matera

Matera Historic District/Site Fodor's Choice
Free

Matera's Sassi are piled chaotically atop one another down the sides of a steep ravine. Some date from Paleolithic times, when they were truly just caves. Over time, they were transformed into enclosed houses, which once presented the Dante-esque vision of squalor and poverty that was graphically described in Carlo Levi's 1945 memoir, Christ Stopped at Eboli. In the 1960s, most inhabitants moved into ugly apartment blocks. The 1993 designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, resulted in clean up and gentrification, with hotels, bars, and restaurants taking over many structures. From the upper town, the Strada Panoramica walk offers stellar views of the two areas known as Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. Feel free to wander down amid the troglodytic abodes, which, in the words of travel writer H. V. Morton in his A Traveller in Southern Italy, "resemble the work of termites rather than of man." There are also more than 100 chiese rupestri,... READ MORE

Matera's Sassi are piled chaotically atop one another down the sides of a steep ravine. Some date from Paleolithic times, when they were truly just caves. Over time, they were transformed into enclosed houses, which once presented the Dante-esque vision of squalor and poverty that was graphically described in Carlo Levi's 1945 memoir, Christ Stopped at Eboli. In the 1960s, most inhabitants moved into ugly apartment blocks. The 1993 designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, resulted in clean up and gentrification, with hotels, bars, and restaurants taking over many structures. From the upper town, the Strada Panoramica walk offers stellar views of the two areas known as Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. Feel free to wander down amid the troglodytic abodes, which, in the words of travel writer H. V. Morton in his A Traveller in Southern Italy, "resemble the work of termites rather than of man." There are also more than 100 chiese rupestri, or rock-hewn churches, some of which have medieval frescoes and a few of which are open to the public. The most spectacular is Santa Maria de Idris, right on the edge of the Sasso Caveoso, near the ravine. Guided tours can be arranged through the tourist office.

READ LESS
Historic District/Site Fodor's Choice Free

Quick Facts

Sasso Caveoso
Matera, Basilicate  75100, Italy

www.prolocomatera2019.it

What’s Nearby