Stones of Matera, Matera
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ADDRESS
Historic Center
75100 Matera
Italy
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Historic Interest
Architecture
 
 
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Matera, Italy

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

The Sassi di Matera, meaning stones of Matera, are unlike any other old town. This city of caves perched on the side of a ravine is one of the oldest living settlements in Italy. View cave dwellings inhabited since the Paleolithic. Learn about life in a one-room grotto. Tour rupestrian churches. Hike up and down a hobbit-like hill. Explore ancient and modern museums. Visit three different neighborhoods. The Civita, situated at the top, was the first inhabited area. The south facing Sasso Caveoso offers a harsh look at life in the stones. Sasso Barisano, the largest neighborhood and best renovated, looks east to Bari and boasts streets lined with fancy stores. Not only are the Sassi a World Heritage Site, they are one of Italy's most dramatic attractions.
Getting Around
 
The Sassi di Matera may be easy to navigate yet there are a few things to consider when traveling with children. There are few signs explaining the sights. Tour guides hold the keys to most old town churches. There is no level ground; it's all up and down. It's tough to trek when it's hot. Invest in a detailed guidebook or take part in a guided tour. Tour the town in child-sized doses. Visit a museum or relax at your hotel during the peak heat hours, 14:00 - 17:00.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
Madonna delle Virtù and San Nicola dei Greci, two of Matera's best preserved rock churches, are only open to the public during exhibits. The car parks in the stones are both small and hard to reach. Consult your host or concierge for the top eateries of the moment.
 
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