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Nestled in the quiet corners of southern Italy, in the Basilicata region, lies Matera, a city that seems to smile at its visitors with a veil of poetry and melancholy, as described by G. Pascoli. Known for its enchanting Sassi, Matera has managed to remain a well-kept secret, hidden from the bustling crowds of foreign tourists.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, Matera unveils a unique urban core, with houses carved into tuff rock and a labyrinth of alleys, rock churches, and underground tunnels that showcase a perfect harmony with its natural surroundings.

Exploring Matera’s Architectural Marvels

Matera’s Sassi, divided into the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso, offer a spectacular architectural complex adapted seamlessly to the natural context.

The Cathedral, perched atop the city, presents a breathtaking view of the Sasso Barisano. Its Romanesque-Apulian facade, adorned with a captivating rose window and depictions of archangel Michael, narrates tales of ancient protectors and architectural prowess. The rock churches, dating back to the early Middle Ages, are scattered throughout the Sassi, showcasing a fascinating blend of Greek Orthodox and Latin influences.

Hidden Treasures and Artistic Wonders

Discovering Matera’s rock churches is a journey through time. From the 17th-century reconstruction of the Church of San Pietro Barisano to the Crypt of Original Sin, often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of rock wall painting, Matera’s religious structures are a testament to cultural and architectural evolution. The intricate frescoes of the Crypt of Original Sin, dating back to the 8th-9th century, unveil biblical scenes and saints, earning it the local name “Cave of the Hundred Saints.”

Il Palombaro Lungo, Matera’s Silent Cathedral of Water

Beneath the central Piazza Vittorio lies Il Palombaro Lungo, an impressive cistern that once served as a water reserve for Sasso Caveoso. Built in 1846, this engineering marvel remained hidden until 1991 when it was uncovered during square renovations. The cistern, resembling a “cathedral of water,” invites visitors on a captivating journey through one of the world’s largest underground reservoirs.

Matera, with its Sassi, rock churches, and culinary delights, stands as a testament to Italy’s cultural richness. As UNESCO’s hidden gem, Matera welcomes those willing to venture off the beaten path, revealing a city that smiles through the ages, sharing its poetry, history, and genuine charm with every visitor


Gastronomic Delights

Matera’s allure extends beyond its architectural wonders to its gastronomy. The city’s cuisine, characterized by simple and genuine ingredients, boasts dishes like Pignata, Ciall├Ędd, and Crapiata. These delicacies, paired with robust reds like Aglianico and Primitivo, offer a taste of Matera’s rich culinary heritage.

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