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Holidays to Matera, situated in the southern region of Basilicata, transport you back to ancient times. One of the oldest cities in Italy, this enchanting place is best known for its UNESCO honoured Sassi where you will find stone houses and caves, believed to be home to Italy’s earliest settlers. Today, tucked into the caves of the Sassi are cafés, hotels, dwellings and even art galleries, all waiting to be discovered.

Perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in history, Matera is filled with piazzas, Benedictine churches and museums all waiting to be explored. And beyond the Sassi, the hills of Basilicata are home to old rock churches which were cut into the hillside many years ago. The adventurous will revel in exploring the caves and the many streets, with so many treasures waiting to be discovered. If culture is what you seek then Matera is for you. Still relatively unknown to Italy’s visitors, this unique area has retained its traditional charm and character, offering you a real Italian experience.

For a true Matera experience, stay at the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, a unique property of 18 cave dwellings located in the oldest area of the Sassi di Matera. Enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner in the 8th Century cave church before retiring to your carefully restored cave for the night. A truly unique and unusual experience that is not to be missed.

Explore Matera like no other

To get a flavour of the culture, visit the Chiese rupestri Madonna delle Virtu e San Nicola dei Greci, a wonderful example of a cave church adorned with stunning frescoes and much more. Take a guided tour and discover the history as well as some hidden gems passers-by might miss.

In the evening, head to Piazza San Pietro Caveoso for a great choice of restaurants and bars with a buzzing Italian atmosphere. While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the older parts of the city with its astounding architecture and fascinating caves, in particular the view of the ravine is spectacular.

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Things to do in Matera

You can’t visit Matera without exploring the Sassi. This old town is unlike any you will find anywhere else. This pre-historic settlement consists of rock excavated dwellings which are considered by many to be the first type of organised settlement in Italy. And it’s not only the history that draws people here - the sprawl of caves and stone houses have long attracted film directors due to the resemblance to old sites in Jerusalem.

Visit the Duomo di Matera, a Romanesque building with the original altar and marble works still intact. Marvel at the beautiful frescoes, artwork, and painted ceilings in the Baroque style, letting it transport you back to the duomo’s heyday.

Build your holiday beyond the city and take a train to Bari, and travel down the Puglia coastline. It’s perfect for those relaxing days by the sea.

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Matera Specialities

Basilicata is known for its wheat, olive and grape production so there are plenty of delicious pasta dishes and traditional Italian breads to enjoy.

Matera is a famous bread of the region, characterised by its form which resembles a small mountain range and its use of local grains. Often used in dishes such as cialledda calda and cialledda fredda, this wholesome bread offers a real taste of the region. Traditionally, the town’s wood ovens were shared so families would impress their own brand into the base of the breads, so they would know which loaf belonged to them. It is hard to resist the mouth-watering aroma that fills the town as the bread is baked using this ancient process.

For a classic pasta dish try pasta with lu’ntruppc, with its tasty sauce made with local meats and sausage which are cooked for a long time to really bring out the flavours of the ingredients. This delightful pasta dish is as much a comfort food as it is a hearty meal and is often prepared for special occasions. The word lu'ntruppc translated means 'obstacle' so take from that what you will.

Basilicata is known for the quality of its grapes which are cultivated in the provinces of Matera and Potenza. The hilly, volcanic landscape yields a grape of exceptional quality and intense flavour which is used to make Aglianico del Vulture (DOC), one of the greatest wines of Southern Italy and the perfect accompaniment to rich meals and red meat. In 1971 Aglianico del Vulture obtained the certification of controlled designation of origin and is considered to be amongst the best wines produced in Italy, making it a must try during your stay.

Experience more of Italy by adding an excursion to your holiday

To pre-book one of our specially selected excursions, please call our Italy Experts on 01293 762410*.

Excursions in and around Matera

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