Matera, located in the southern region of Basilicata, is a city steeped in history and tradition. This ancient city is known for its Sassi, cave dwellings carved into the limestone cliffs that have been inhabited for thousands of years. Matera has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why. With its breathtaking views, rich culture and history, and incredible food, there are so many things to see and do in Matera. Here 7 things to do in Matera.
- Wander through the Sassi
The Sassi are the heart of Matera, and wandering through these winding streets and staircases is a must-do activity. These ancient dwellings were inhabited until the 1950s, and today many of them have been restored and turned into shops, restaurants, and hotels. Be sure to take a guided tour to learn more about the history and culture of the Sassi, or simply wander on your own and discover hidden corners and alleyways. This is just one of the 7 things to do in Matera!
- Explore the archaeological sites of the city
Matera has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, and there are many archaeological sites to explore in and around the city. The most famous site is the Crypt of the Original Sin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located just outside the city. This ancient cave church is decorated with frescoes that date back to the 9th century. Other notable sites include the San Giovanni Battista church and the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, a cave dwelling that has been preserved to show what life was like for the city’s inhabitants in the past.
- Taste the local cuisine
Matera is known for its incredible food, and there are many traditional dishes to try during your visit. One of the most famous dishes is the bread, known as pane di Matera, which is made with durum wheat and has a unique texture and flavor. Other traditional dishes include orecchiette pasta with cime di rapa (turnip greens), lamb cooked in a wood-fired oven, and peperoni cruschi, dried sweet peppers that are a staple of the local cuisine. Be sure to visit the local markets to sample fresh produce and ingredients.
- Admire the panoramic view from the Cathedral
The Cathedral of Matera, dedicated to Santa Maria della Bruna, is located on the highest point of the city and offers a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. It was built in the 13th century and has a beautiful façade with rose windows and Gothic arches. The interior is also impressive, with a series of frescoes and works of art. A visit to the Cathedral is a must-do activity and allows you to have a complete overview of the city and its surroundings.
- Walk along the Appian Way
The Appian Way is one of the most important roads of ancient Rome, and Matera is located right on its trajectory. Walking along the Appian Way, you can discover the remains of ancient Roman constructions and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside. Don’t miss the visit to the Roman Amphitheater of Matera, which hosted the shows and competitions of gladiators.
- Visit the medieval castles of the area
The area around Matera is rich in medieval castles that testify to the presence of the Normans in the region. Among the castles to visit are the Castle of Melfi, the Castle of Venosa, and the Castle of Monteserico. The Melfi one, located on a hill, was the site of important historical events, including the coronation of Frederick II in the 13th century. The Castle of Venosa, located in the town of Venosa, was built in the 11th century and was the birthplace of the Latin poet Horace. In the end the Castle of Monteserico, located on a hill overlooking Matera, was built in the 10th century and offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
- Attend a cultural event
Matera is known for its rich cultural events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most famous events is the Festa della Madonna della Bruna, which takes place on July 2nd and is a celebration of the city’s patron saint. The festival includes a parade through the streets of the city, with a statue of the Madonna being carried through the streets and a fireworks display at night. Other cultural events include the Matera Jazz Festival in July, the Women’s Film Festival in August, and the Festival of San Rocco in September.
In conclusion, Matera is a city with so much to offer. From its ancient history and architecture to its incredible food and cultural events, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring the Sassi or learning about the region’s medieval castles, Matera is a destination that should not be missed. So, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure in this unique and fascinating city.