Discovering the Wonders of Matera:
Imagine driving through the picturesque southern Italian countryside, and suddenly stumbling upon an ancient civilization that seems to be from another continent! Matera, built into a deep ravine, is filled with rich history that is sure to captivate any traveler.
While public transportation in Italy is generally reliable, reaching Matera from many locations requires a car or bus ride. Interestingly, car rentals are more affordable here than in the states.
Tips for Driving in Italy
Navigating through Naples and surrounding areas can be a daunting experience, with the driving culture being quite different from what you might be used to. We recommend renting an automatic car, even if you're familiar with driving a standard car, it may help alleviate some of the stress.
Exploring Matera: A Weekend Getaway
We recently learned about Matera and discovered that it's a quick three-hour drive from our apartment in southern Italy. After seeing it featured in the latest James Bond movie, we couldn't resist exploring the town for a weekend.
Matera's Old Town: The Oldest Consecutively Inhabited Civilization
For centuries, the captivating architecture, rich history, and stunning views of Matera's ancient and picturesque Old Town have attracted travelers from all over the world. As the oldest consecutively inhabited civilization, arriving in this charming city is truly a sight to behold.
The city is famous for ancient cave dwellings carved into the rocky cliffs of the region, known as "Sassi". These one-of-a-kind homes continue to draw visitors from all over the world and have earned a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Don't miss the opportunity to witness this breathtaking sight for yourself.
If you are visiting Matera, we recommend staying in a cave house that's steeped in history. You can choose between a variety of options, from charming boutique hotels to luxury spas. This trip Augustine opted for an airbnb which we highly recommend. Staying in one of the historic cave houses was an experience in itself. The one we stayed in had an amazing location, great value, and stunning views. Trust me, the photos on Airbnb didn't do it justice!
Exploring the Old Town of Matera Once we settled in, we couldn't resist the urge to explore the charming Old Town. The 'Sassi' is situated down into a ravine, and the only way to get around is by scaling up and down stairs. Some travelers might find this challenging, but it is one of the reasons Matera has remained standing for so many years. In fact, you won't see the old town until you're practically on top of it.
Matera has undergone a remarkable transformation. Once known as the "armpit of Italy" in the 1950s, it is now a clean and charming city.
Discovering the Beauty of Italian Streets and Cuisine:
Exploring the narrow, winding streets and alleyways of Italy, known as "vicoli," was an experience like no other. The honey-colored stone buildings with flowerpots and wrought-iron balconies exuded an old-world charm that captivated us for hours. Each turn led to a new discovery, from hidden courtyards to quaint little piazzas where locals gathered for a chat and a delicious gelato. What's more, the local cuisine was very fresh and simple, yet extremely flavorful, leaving us wanting more!
Explore church & piazza of San Pietro Caveoso
Visit local artisan shops
Dine with a view of the stassi
Try cruschi peppers
Check out some of the James bond movie set locations
Get lost exploring the ancient streets