Matera, Italy, a captivating city nestled in the rugged region of Basilicata, is a hidden gem that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers. Known for its ancient cave dwellings, Matera is often referred to as “the city of caves.” With a history dating back thousands of years, this enchanting destination has earned a UNESCO World Heritage status and has become a must-visit for those seeking to explore the rich cultural heritage of Italy.
In this article, we will uncover the 15 best things to do in Matera, from exploring the fascinating cave dwellings in the Sassi di Matera to indulging in the mouthwatering local cuisine. Whether you are a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply a lover of breathtaking natural landscapes, Matera has something to offer for everyone.
Explore the Ancient Sassi District
The Sassi district is Matera’s most iconic attraction. Wander through the narrow winding streets and marvel at the unique cave dwellings carved into the cliffs. Discover the rich history and immerse yourself in the ancient ambiance of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visit the Matera Cathedral
The Matera Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria della Bruna, is a stunning architectural masterpiece. Admire its intricate facade and step inside to admire the beautiful frescoes and religious artwork.
Explore the Rock Churches
Matera is famous for its rock churches, many of which date back to the Byzantine era. Visit the Church of Santa Maria dei Greci and the Church of San Pietro Caveoso to witness the breathtaking frescoes and ancient religious sites.
Discover the Palombaro Lungo
Descend into the depths of Matera and explore the fascinating Palombaro Lungo, an ancient cistern carved out of rock. Learn about its history and marvel at the impressive engineering of this underground structure.
Enjoy panoramic views from the Murgia Park
Head to the Murgia Park and hike along its picturesque trails to enjoy stunning views of Matera and the surrounding countryside. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes.
Visit the Tramontano Castle
The Tramontano Castle, perched on the edge of the Sassi district, offers panoramic views of Matera. Explore its medieval architecture and learn about the city’s history through exhibitions and artifacts.
Indulge in the local cuisine
Sample the traditional cuisine of Matera, known for its simple yet flavorful dishes. Try local specialties such as orecchiette pasta, lamb dishes, and the famous Matera bread.
Explore the Rupestrian Park
The Rupestrian Park is home to numerous ancient cave dwellings and rock churches. Take a guided tour to learn about the history and culture of the area and witness the fascinating rock-cut architecture.
Discover the Casa Grotta
Step inside the Casa Grotta, a preserved cave dwelling that gives visitors a glimpse into the daily life of the past. Explore the rooms and learn about the traditional way of living in Matera.
Wander through the Piazza Vittorio Veneto
Relax in the Piazza Vittorio Veneto, a charming square lined with cafes and shops. Take in the vibrant atmosphere, enjoy a gelato, and soak up the local culture.
Visit the Contemporary Sculpture Museum
Immerse yourself in modern art at the Casa Cava Contemporary Sculpture Museum. Marvel at the unique sculptures showcased in the underground galleries of an old quarry.
Explore the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi
The Church of San Francesco d’Assisi is known for its beautiful frescoes and stunning architecture. Take your time to admire the intricate details and soak in the spiritual atmosphere.
Experience the Festa della Bruna
If you’re lucky to visit Matera in July, don’t miss the Festa della Bruna, a traditional festival dedicated to the city’s patron saint. Enjoy parades, fireworks, and colorful celebrations.
Take a guided tour of the Old cistern system “Gravina”
Discover the fascinating underground cistern systems that supplied Matera with water in the past. Explore the intricate network of tunnels and chambers with a knowledgeable guide.
Relax in the Belvedere-Matera
Unwind and enjoy the panoramic views of Matera from the Belvedere-Matera. Take a leisurely stroll, find a cozy spot to sit, and watch the city come alive in the golden light of sunset.
Matera, Italy is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. From exploring ancient cave dwellings to indulging in delectable Italian cuisine, this city offers a variety of activities for every traveler. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or simply immersing yourself in the beauty of the landscape, Matera has something to offer.
Marvel at the Sassi cave dwellings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take a stroll through the charming streets of the city center. Visit the breathtaking churches and cathedrals that dot the city, or enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the stunning views. No matter what you choose to do, Matera will leave you awestruck and longing to return.
So why wait? Start planning your trip to Matera and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in this captivating Italian city.
Q: How do I get to Matera, Italy?
A: Matera is accessible by train from major cities in Italy such as Rome and Naples. There are also bus services available from other towns and cities in the region.
Q: What is the best time to visit Matera?
A: Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are the best times to visit Matera. The weather is pleasant, and there are fewer crowds compared to the summer months.
Q: Are the Sassi cave dwellings open for visitors?
A: Yes, the Sassi cave dwellings are open for visitors. You can explore them on your own or take a guided tour to learn more about their history and significance.
Q: What are some must-try dishes in Matera?
A: Some must-try dishes in Matera include orecchiette pasta, bread with Matera’s famous Pugliese bread, and local wines such as Aglianico del Vulture.
Q: Are there accommodations available in Matera?
A: Yes, Matera offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget, from luxury hotels to charming bed and breakfasts located in the heart of the Sassi.