the magic of places
Matera is a fascinating city where time, history, and the efforts and ingenuity of man can be felt with every step you take.A karst landscape of tufa rock where there have been settlements since the Neolithic period. Natural indentations and caves carved by weather and time have been joined by caves carved by men who were able to exploit the softness of the rock. Tracing its history from the primordial villages, the rock churches, places of worship that sheltered Byzantine monks, to the peasant caves, we arrive at the tufa constructions which were added to the cavities to extend the living space outwards. Such unique architecture creates an unconventional order that cannot be reconstructed and gave rise to the famous Sassi district, with its characteristic interconnected paths and unspoilt spaces. The roof of one house becomes the floor of another and vice versa; a narrow path plunges into an underground area, the ancient ruins of large cisterns for collecting water. A model habitat where man’s ingenuity has helped him to use the scarce resources available, to bring life to an area which had no flowing water. A deep respect for the nature of the territory has led to its being adapted in a way that is bio-compatible and in line with the wildness of the landscape and its natural wonders.
Walking through the Sassi district, we can see the history of ancient cultures and eras that have followed each other up to the present time, inter-connecting, co-existing and creating a wonder that defies description. The frescoes of over 120 rock churches, as well as the fifteenth century churches of the historic center, the cathedral perched at the top of the Sassi district and the castle of the Aragonese Count Giovancarlo Tramontano are superlative examples of art and architecture. Matera also has unspoiled scenery with its deep Gravina gorge and the majesty of the Murgia Materana Park, which is beautiful in all seasons and encourages you to walk and discover the beautiful bright colours of the Mediterranean flora. The flight of the lesser kestrel dominates the sky above Matera and, as you follow its path with your gaze, you view the vast panorama of the landscape: an unforgettable memory.
Matera’s unique appearance and structure has caused it to be chosen by various great film directors as the location for famous films such as The Gospel According to Saint Matthew by Pier Paolo Pasolini and The Passion by Mel Gibson. But Matera is not just beautiful to look at, it is also a lovely place in which to live: there is a long local tradition of wine and gastronomy with delicacies such as bread, focaccia and all kinds of baked delicacies; artistic and cultural events including exhibitions, film and music festivals, seminars, conferences and meetings; public events such as the spectacular celebration in honour of the patron saint Maria Santissima della Bruna and much more for the visitor to discover in a city that is now famous all over the world.