On the Cover: Matera

La città di Matera, in Basilicata, è nota per la sua storia antichissima. I Sassi, che fanno parte dell'UNESCO, sono un complesso di abitazioni scavate nella roccia calcarea. Danno un'idea di una vita semplice piena di ingegnosità e resilienza da più di mille anni fa. I Sassi sono descritti come un museo vivo. Nei Sassi, c'è Civita, una zona che è la più antica di tutte. A Civita c'è il Duomo, un fenomeno architettonico. Matera è anche nota per i festival musicali, le piccole pensioni nei Sassi, il cibo culturale, e uno splendido paesaggio.

Nestled in the southern region of Basilicata, Matera is a city that encapsulates the essence of Italy's rich history and cultural heritage. Known for its ancient cave dwellings, breathtaking landscapes, and a sense of timelessness, Matera is a destination that transports visitors back in time while offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

One of the most distinctive features of Matera is its "Sassi" districts, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Sassi di Matera, or the "Stones of Matera," are a complex network of dwellings carved into limestone cliffs. These cave dwellings, some of which date back thousands of years, were once home to a community that lived in simple and humble conditions. Today, they serve as a testament to human ingenuity and resilience, and a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Exploring the Sassi districts is like stepping into a living museum. The narrow alleys, stone houses, and hidden courtyards create an otherworldly atmosphere. As you wander through the labyrinthine streets, you can't help but marvel at the sheer beauty of the architecture and the organic integration of human settlements into the natural landscape.

One of the most iconic sights in Matera is the Civita, the oldest part of the city. Perched atop a rocky outcrop, Civita offers panoramic views of the Sassi districts and the surrounding countryside. The Cathedral of Matera, located in Civita, is an architectural gem with its blend of Romanesque and Apulian-Romanesque styles. Stepping inside, you'll be greeted by stunning frescoes and an aura of tranquility.

Beyond its historical significance, Matera has also become a hub for cultural events and festivals. The Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 designation has propelled the city onto the international stage, attracting artists, musicians, and performers from all over the world. The streets come alive with exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical performances, creating an atmosphere of celebration and creativity.

Matera's charm extends beyond its ancient dwellings. The surrounding landscape is a sight to behold. The Murgia Materana Park, with its rugged terrain and ancient rock churches, offers a glimpse into Matera's natural beauty. Taking a hike or a bike ride through the park allows you to connect with nature and experience the region's unique biodiversity.

Furthermore, Matera's culinary scene is a delight for food enthusiasts. The local cuisine is a reflection of the city's traditions and history. Indulge in hearty dishes like orecchiette pasta with turnip greens, grilled lamb, and artisanal cheeses. Don't forget to sample the local wine, Aglianico del Vulture, which pairs perfectly with the regional delicacies.

Hospitality is ingrained in Matera's culture, and the city offers a wide range of accommodation options. From luxurious boutique hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts tucked away in the Sassi districts, there is something to suit every taste and budget. Spending a night in one of the cave hotels is an experience in itself, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the ancient ambiance.

Matera has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. From a poverty-stricken area to a vibrant cultural destination, the city has embraced its past while embracing modernity. Its rich history, captivating architecture, and warm hospitality make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic and immersive experience.

So, if you're looking to step back in time and immerse yourself in the magic of a bygone era, Matera beckons. Lose yourself in the winding streets, marvel at the cave dwellings, and let the city's timeless beauty leave an indelible mark on your soul. Matera is a place where history, culture, and natural beauty converge, offering an unforgettable journey into the heart of Italy's ancient past.