Not once in my travel stories I’ve mentioned that Italian North and Italian South are really two very different parts of the country. And, in this case I am referring exactly to the landscape, culture, architecture and food, and definitely leaving apart all the other aspects, very often discussed between Italians themselves.
North of Italy is beautiful, polished and very well known. However, the South for me remains wilder, still not fully discovered and totally not less impressive!
During my summer’s trip to South of Italy we’ve visited Basilicata region, which is definitely remoted from the main travel routes of the country. However, it is absolutely wrong to think that there is nothing valuable to find there. Because, it is! I already wrote about the ghost town Craco, which really impressed me deeply, and now I want to share a story from my experience in one more rocky town – Matera.
The most fascinating feature of it is the old part, where all the dwellings are being carved in the stones. More surprising fact is that people are still living in this unique environment!
Some places there may look like the ruins, but in reality it’s a fully functioning ancient town. Architecture there is really unique, which cannot be found anywhere else in Italy.
Probably one of the most amazing things in the Sassi di Matera, that’s how this part is being called, is to simply get lost: there is a huge labyrinth of tiny cobble streets as well as steps, continuously going uphill and downhill, giving the great possibility to discover the antiquity from inside.
If the traveller has time, it is absolutely a must to experience Matera both in daylight and a night. During the hours of sunlight you see everything impressively clearly, but when the darkness comes and all the sassi get lighted up – different, even spooky, views start pleasing your eyes.
One more incredible thing is that Sassi di Matera really brings you backwards long centuries ago, but when you climb up the old part – you get into the bustling center of today’s city.
During our staying in Italy we wanted to enjoy the old caves as much as that is possible, so decided to take the apartment for a night in sassi. And, that was a brilliant idea! Of course, a pricey one, but the experience of staying in the modernly reconstructed old cave, which before served as a chapel of the old church, was really worth the money! However, one notion I must underline – inside all the sassi the level of humidity is really high. Our paper map during the night became really damp… So, such experience is really unbelievable, but not longer than for a night. If planning to have holidays in Matera for more time, I strongly advice all the other nights staying in the new part of the city.
At the end I would like to say that if once in Italian South – try not to skip this town, located in Basilicata region, too! ‘Cause it is a really impressive place and, at the same time, totally different Italy than we are used to imagine it!
by Gintarė Adamonytė