Matera, in Basilicata, has a unique legacy that frames a remarkable setting of almost 10,000 years of continuous human occupation. Here, the history of urban ecology, from sustainability to squalor, inspired UNESCO to designate a World Heritage Site, while its old Jerusalem-like aura captured several movie directors, including Mel Gibson, who used Matera to film ‘The Passion of the Christ’.
In fading light, our first sighting of the ‘sassi’ areas built on the sides of the gorge (and where our hotel is located) is stunning.
Winding down into the gorge we finally find our hotel, the 18-room Albergo Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita. A porter comes to lug my luggage up the stone steps, but Paul (with one carry-on for the whole month away!) looks after his own.
We join cave dwellers from millennia before in the same caves for an overnight experience – and for a guided tour of the area to better understand the patrimony.
“If you want to discover the deeper sense of a place, you have to sleep in a house of that place, not in an international hotel.” Herman Hesse – On Voyage
The dining room is cavernously large. It was once the chapel when this part of the mountain was a medieval monastery. The blessings that we receive today though are in the form of regional specialties on the breakfast buffet. We watch (dare I say salivate?) as each simple breakfast dish is produced hot from the oven. Get the picture?
With great foresight, and in concert with tourism investor visionaries, the whole infrastructure (paving, drainage, sanitation) was improved and all works strictly conform to a heritage master plan even to this day. Pride in the city is now truly palpable.
Click on the link at the end of this post to view the photos of our guided sightseeing tour.
CLICK HERE to view the photo album!
In order to read a caption, after you click on the first photo and open it to full screen, you will see a little ‘i’ Info icon in the top right. Click on this and you have the captions for the pics one by one or in a slide show.