TRAVEL RECAP: MATERA
First, there’s the Sassi (ancient cave dwellings) and you can’t help but be in awe of a place that looks completely frozen in time. It is no wonder that the Passion of the Christ was filmed here. So amazingly beautiful during the day, the kind that you look at your pics and are pissed because you can’t quite capture what you’re seeing. And it gets even better when the sun sets and the lights in the Sassi start to come on.
We had two interesting encounters in Matera. One, an Italian artist who chatted with us about his love for African music, even playing some of it for us, who was so warm in his welcome. And second, two young Cameroonians (we didn’t quite expect that) who had arrived in Matera just a few months earlier, hoping Matera would be a place that they could call home and a place where they could find and start better lives for themselves. While they acknowledged the beauty of Matera, they confided in us that the romanticized notion of a city that one experiences during holidays and short trips is very different from the reality of everyday life. Still their eyes glistened when they recommended that we witness the Sassi at sundown and they chatted about the recent crowds arriving at Matera which made it a much better place for business than they could have ever managed in Big old Rome.
|The artist Donato Rizzi and his works|
- There’s no Sunday buses or public transportation so don’t be like us, get there any other day of the week so you don’t have to spend a pretty penny on a taxi.
- Spend 2 nights or more. We spent 1 night and you could say almost 2 full days but that was barely enough to satiate our appetite.
- Stay in the Sassi- I’ll do a post shortly with a full review of where we stayed and some other cool options. Matera has a small downtown area that looks nothing like the pics here. It’s where most of the true residents stay as the Sassi is now filled with restaurants and hotels. Normally, I’d recommend that you stay where the real residents stay but this is different. You are going to Matera because of the Sassi, so stay in the Sassi.
- Eat lots of gelato: because it’s not as touristy as the other big cities, food is much more affordable here than other stops with gelato only 1euro in some places, compare to 2.50 or 3 euros we paid in Rome/Florence.
- Book sooner rather than later, Matera has a campaign going on, we saw posters and signs everywhere to be the European capital of culture in 2019. If that happens, Matera won’t be much of a hidden gem for much longer.