Discover Matera: Top Travel Destination in Southern Italy

A Top Travel destination nestled within the heart of southern Italy, Matera stands as a captivating testament to history, boasting a unique landscape carved out of stone that has enchanted travelers for centuries. Known as “The Ancient City of Caves,” Matera offers a treasure trove of experiences that blend the past with the present. Let’s delve into the top activities that make Matera an irresistible destination for explorers seeking an authentic and enriching travel experience.


1. Roaming Through the Sassi

Step into history and wander through the enchanting labyrinth of Matera‘s Sassi. These ancient cave dwellings, etched into the rugged limestone, whisper tales of bygone eras. With each twist and turn along the narrow alleys, you’re not just sightseeing; you’re stepping into a living, breathing timeline.

Imagine the stories that echo through these stone walls, stories of families, tradesmen, and artisans who once called these caves home. As you navigate the maze-like streets, you can almost feel the presence of those who walked these paths before you.

Take your time to soak in the intricate details of the architecture, marveling at the ingenuity of those who crafted homes from the very earth beneath their feet. It’s not just about exploring buildings; it’s about connecting with the spirit of Matera and its resilient inhabitants.

So, let your curiosity guide you as you uncover the secrets of the Sassi. Each corner turned reveals a new chapter in Matera’s rich history, inviting you to be a part of its timeless narrative.


2. Exploring the Cave Churches

Delve into the heart of Matera’s spiritual legacy as you explore its captivating cave churches. Among them stands the illustrious “Chiesa Rupestre di Santa Maria de Idris,” a testament to the city’s profound religious heritage. Step inside and be greeted by a tapestry of vivid frescoes, each brushstroke telling a timeless tale of faith and devotion.

As you stand in awe of the intricate artwork that adorns the walls, you can’t help but feel a sense of reverence wash over you. These caves aren’t just places of worship; they’re sanctuaries of the soul, where history and spirituality intertwine in a mesmerizing dance.

Take a moment to absorb the hallowed atmosphere, letting the serenity of the surroundings envelop you. Here, amidst the cool stone walls and flickering candlelight, you’re invited to connect with something greater than yourself.

So, lose yourself in the beauty of Matera‘s cave churches, allowing their ancient whispers to stir something deep within your spirit. In these sacred spaces, the echoes of the past resonate with timeless wisdom, beckoning you to embark on a journey of introspection and discovery.


3. Staying in a Cave Hotel

Indulge in a truly unforgettable stay at Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae, immersing yourself in the enchanting world of Matera’s cave hotels. Step into a realm where the past meets the present, where centuries-old caves have been transformed into luxurious sanctuaries of comfort and style.

As you settle into your cave room at Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae, you’ll be greeted by a sense of wonder and awe. The soft glow of ambient lighting highlights the natural beauty of the stone walls, while modern furnishings offer the perfect blend of elegance and sophistication.

Picture yourself sinking into plush bedding after a day of exploration, cocooned in the tranquil embrace of your cave retreat at Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae. Here, amidst the cool, earthy ambiance, you’ll find a sense of serenity unlike any other.

And when morning comes, awaken to the gentle glow of sunlight filtering through the cave entrance, casting a warm hue across the room at Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae. Step outside onto your private terrace and savor a leisurely breakfast, basking in the breathtaking views of Matera’s ancient landscape.

From the moment you arrive at Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae, you’ll be enveloped in a sense of timeless charm and tranquility. So why settle for ordinary accommodations when you can experience the magic of Matera’s cave hotels firsthand? Embark on a journey like no other and make memories that will last a lifetime.



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4. Palombaro Lungo: An Underground Marvel

Descend into the depths of history and uncover the hidden secrets of Palombaro Lungo, an extraordinary underground cistern system nestled beneath the streets of Matera. Delve into the labyrinthine tunnels that once served as a vital lifeline for the city, providing a steady supply of water to its residents.

Palombaro Lungo stands as a testament to the ingenuity of Matera’s ancient inhabitants, who engineered this remarkable structure with meticulous precision. Marvel at the intricate network of channels and reservoirs that once brimmed with life-giving water, sustaining the community through centuries of change.

Guided tours offer a fascinating glimpse into the past, shedding light on the innovative techniques used to construct and maintain Palombaro Lungo. Learn about the historical significance of this underground marvel and gain a deeper understanding of Matera’s rich cultural heritage.

As you explore the dimly lit corridors and towering chambers of Palombaro Lungo, you’ll be transported back in time to an era of ingenuity and resilience. Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of this subterranean masterpiece and discover the untold stories hidden beneath the surface of Matera.


5. Savoring Matera’s Culinary Delights

Embark on a gastronomic journey through Matera and treat your taste buds to an array of delectable delights that capture the essence of southern Italy. Dive into a world of culinary wonders as you explore the rich tapestry of flavors that define Matera’s gastronomic landscape.

Begin your culinary adventure with a taste of “orecchiette” pasta, a beloved local dish that showcases the simplicity and authenticity of Matera’s cuisine. Made with skill and tradition, each bite is a symphony of flavor, transporting you to the heart of Italian culinary heritage.

No meal is complete without freshly baked bread, a staple of Matera’s culinary repertoire. Sink your teeth into crusty loaves infused with the warmth of the oven, perfectly complementing every dish with its rustic charm.

Indulge your senses with an assortment of traditional cheeses, crafted with care by local artisans who have perfected their craft over generations. From tangy pecorino to creamy burrata, each cheese tells a story of tradition and craftsmanship, adding depth and complexity to every bite.

To accompany your feast, sip on a glass of regional wine, hand-selected to enhance the flavors of your meal. From robust reds to crisp whites, Matera boasts a diverse wine culture that mirrors the richness of its culinary heritage.

Whether you’re dining in a quaint trattoria or savoring a meal al fresco with panoramic views of the city, every bite in Matera is a celebration of food, family, and tradition. So, come hungry and prepare to delight in the culinary treasures that await in this charming Italian gem.


6. Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario: A Glimpse of Daily Life

Transport yourself back in time as you step into the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, a captivating glimpse into the daily life of Matera’s past inhabitants. This meticulously preserved cave dwelling offers a window into bygone eras, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the city.

As you wander through the corridors of this ancient abode, you’ll encounter a treasure trove of artifacts that provide insight into the lives of Matera’s residents. From rustic furnishings to traditional tools, each item tells a story of resilience and resourcefulness in the face of adversity.

Marvel at the ingenuity of Matera’s ancestors as you explore the intricately carved rooms and passageways of the Casa Grotta. Admire the simple yet functional design elements that were integral to everyday life, from stone hearths to hand-carved furniture.

Gain a deeper appreciation for the challenges and triumphs of generations past as you contemplate the harsh realities of life in Matera. From humble beginnings to moments of joy and celebration, the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario offers a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about life in Matera’s ancient past, a visit to this remarkable site is sure to leave a lasting impression. So, step inside and embark on a journey through time, where the echoes of the past reverberate through the corridors of this extraordinary cave dwelling.


7. Photographic Exploration

Embark on a photographic journey through the captivating streets and landscapes of Matera, where every corner offers a new opportunity to capture the essence of this ancient city.

As you wander through Matera’s enchanting alleys, immerse yourself in the interplay of light and shadow that illuminates the weathered stone walls. From the soft glow of sunrise to the golden hues of sunset, each moment presents a unique canvas for your lens to explore.

Frame your shots to highlight the juxtaposition of ancient architecture against the backdrop of modern life, capturing the timeless beauty that defines Matera. Whether you’re drawn to the intricate details of the Sassi or the sweeping vistas of the surrounding countryside, there’s no shortage of inspiration to be found.

Experiment with different angles and perspectives to uncover hidden gems and unexpected beauty in Matera’s labyrinthine streets. Seek out hidden courtyards, winding staircases, and panoramic viewpoints to capture the city’s diverse charm.

Take your time to observe the rhythm of daily life unfolding around you, from bustling markets to quiet moments of reflection. Each scene tells a story, waiting to be immortalized through your lens.

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or an amateur enthusiast, Matera’s photogenic allure is sure to ignite your creativity and inspire unforgettable images. So, grab your camera and embark on a photographic exploration of this timeless city, where every snapshot is a work of art.


8. Matera by Night

Experience Matera’s enchanting transformation as night falls and the city comes alive with a captivating allure.

Step into the illuminated streets of Matera, where the warm golden glow casts a magical spell over the ancient stone facades. Wander through the labyrinthine alleys, where shadows dance playfully against the walls, creating an atmosphere of mystery and romance.

Embrace the vibrant nightlife of Matera as you discover local bars and restaurants buzzing with energy and excitement. Sip on cocktails crafted from regional ingredients, savoring the flavors of southern Italy under the starlit sky.

Indulge in the city’s culinary delights as you dine alfresco, surrounded by the timeless beauty of Matera by night. From traditional trattorias to chic wine bars, each venue offers a unique taste of local culture and hospitality.

Capture the enchanting ambiance of Matera after dark through your lens, immortalizing the magical moments that unfold beneath the moonlit sky. Whether you’re strolling hand in hand with a loved one or exploring solo, Matera’s nocturnal charm is sure to leave a lasting impression.

As you bid farewell to the night and retreat to your cozy accommodations, take a moment to reflect on the day’s adventures and anticipate the wonders that tomorrow holds. Matera by night is a spectacle not to be missed, offering a glimpse into the city’s soul after the sun sets.


9. Cultural Immersion at the Casa Noha Museum

Embark on a journey through time at the Casa Noha Museum, an immersive cultural experience that offers insight into Matera’s rich history and heritage.

Step inside this captivating museum and be transported back in time through engaging multimedia exhibits that bring the city’s story to life. From its ancient origins to its modern-day status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Casa Noha offers a comprehensive overview of Matera’s evolution over the centuries.

Explore the intricacies of Matera’s past as you wander through interactive displays, uncovering the secrets of its cave dwellings, ancient churches, and historic landmarks. Delve into the lives of Matera’s inhabitants, past and present, and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of this remarkable city.

Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Matera as you watch compelling audiovisual presentations that capture the essence of daily life in times gone by. From bustling market scenes to solemn religious rituals, Casa Noha provides a window into the soul of Matera and its people.

As you explore the museum’s exhibits, take the time to reflect on Matera’s journey and appreciate the resilience of its residents in the face of adversity. Casa Noha offers a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving Matera’s cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Matera’s past, a visit to Casa Noha promises to be a rewarding and enlightening experience. Gain a deeper appreciation for Matera’s cultural significance and leave with a newfound respect for this extraordinary city and its timeless allure.


10. Taking in Panoramic Views

Ascend to the heights of Matera and behold panoramic views that stretch across the cityscape, offering a breathtaking perspective of this ancient marvel.

Venture to the viewpoints that dot the landscape, perched atop the cliffs and hills that surround Matera. From these vantage points, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas that showcase the city’s unique architecture, winding alleyways, and dramatic cliffsides.

Gaze out over the rooftops of Matera and marvel at the intricate network of cave dwellings that cling to the rugged terrain. Watch as the sun sets, casting a warm glow over the ancient stones and bathing the city in a golden light.

Capture the beauty of Matera from above as you snap photos of its iconic skyline and picturesque landscapes. From the iconic Sassi districts to the distant horizon, every angle offers a new perspective on this timeless city.

As you take in the panoramic views, let yourself be transported by the beauty and history that surrounds you. Whether you’re admiring Matera’s ancient architecture or simply soaking in the tranquility of the landscape, these vistas are sure to leave a lasting impression.

So, ascend to the heights and immerse yourself in the panoramic splendor of Matera. From the heights of its viewpoints, you’ll discover a city steeped in history and beauty, waiting to be explored and admired.

What is Matera famous for?

Matera is renowned for its Sassi di Matera, ancient cave dwellings carved into the limestone that date back over 9,000 years, making them some of the oldest human settlements in the world still in use today. The city’s remarkable history, unique architecture, and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site contribute to its fame. Matera was also a European Capital of Culture.

When is the best time to visit Matera?

The best time to visit Matera is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October). During these months, the weather is pleasant—warm but not too hot—and there are fewer tourists compared to the summer months. This makes it easier to explore the city and enjoy its outdoor cafes and walkways.

What are the top attractions to visit in Matera?

The must-visit attractions in Matera include:

  • Sassi di Matera: Explore the ancient cave dwellings.
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria della Bruna: A stunning example of Romanesque architecture.
  • Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario: A museum that shows how people once lived in the caves.
  • MUSMA: A museum dedicated to sculpture, set within the caves.
  • Palombaro Lungo: An impressive underground water cistern.
What are some traditional foods to try in Matera?

When in Matera, try some of the local Lucanian cuisine:

  • Pane di Matera: A crusty bread with a distinctive flavor, made from durum wheat.
  • Orecchiette con le cime di rapa: Ear-shaped pasta served with turnip tops and garlic.
  • Crapiata: A hearty soup made from mixed legumes and grains.
  • Lucanica: A spicy pork sausage typical of the region.
How many days are recommended to fully experience Matera?

To fully experience what Matera has to offer, a minimum stay of two to three days is recommended. This allows sufficient time to explore both the Sassi and other historical sites, as well as to relax and enjoy the local cuisine and culture. More days would allow for a deeper exploration, including visits to nearby attractions and natural parks.