While driving through the rolling plains of eastern Lucania you have no indication that there would be such striking geography for the city of
The sassi are built along the steep valley so there is a lot of up and down walking to see this area but around each curve you get a new view. We found that changing light at different times of day also provided different views of the same places and we had one day of mixed clouds and sun where the shadows played across the white stone.
There are several churches and convents built right into the stone. Many of the houses have a portion that is a cave and additional living quarters constructed outward from the wall. The roofs of these areas then become the street for the level above. The ceilings are barrel arches providing the required support. We stayed in an apartment that was recently restored that had the barrel ceiling and a small cave portion in the rear. There are a mix of hotels and restaurants that have cleverly utilized this unique architecture that are many times difficult to distinguish from the surrounding buildings.
We also saw many cantine, caves that were used for making and storing wine. Grapes would be brought down from the plains above the valley on donkeys and crushed in cisterns carved into the rock then stored in caves deep in the hillside.
The civita resting on the plain above the sassi has many attractions of its own and we found the entire city to be bustling with people going about their daily activities. This is a city that must be experienced first hand to fully appreciate. We have seen nothing like it anywhere else during our travels in
Rhonda, Celia, Valerie & Bryan
After a few days in Matera with Valerie's cousin Celia and her friend Rhonda all four of us headed west to the homeland of Anzi...