Matera is the European Capital of Culture 2019. That’s not for nothing, because it is a beautiful city which we visit at least twice every year. They are still reconstructing more buildings and thus the city becomes even more beautiful. Although it is (just) in Basilicata, if you’re staying with us, do not pass by this beautiful city. You’re there in a jiffy!
It takes 45 minutes from Villa Lavanda to parking your car in Matera and you’re suddenly in a totally different world. The Apulian dry stonewalls are exchanged for the much rougher landscape of Matera with mountains and ravines.
Cave dwellings and churches
Matera is a city of cave dwellings- and churches, mostly carved out of the mountain, with a landscape of rugged unspoiled beauty. Until the fifties people still lived in these cave dwellings. Many movies were made at Matera (among others, The Passion Of The Christ) because of the very special environment. Matera is a city with a long and eventful history. Note also the Baroque architecture, which is not only in Lecce, but can also be found elsewhere in Apulia.
Take a day for your visit to Matera; it’s more than worth it.
Enjoy the scenery as you walk along the edge of the ravine where you, if you are lucky, can spot the many falcons floating on the thermal current that it creates. They were introduced in 2009 and many local families got a cage from the municipality to house the falcons.
Shepherds and cheeses
From the beginning of our era until not so very long ago the local shepherds with their flocks of sheep went for many months on end up the mountains, opposite the city. Occasionally, someone came into town to sell the cheeses manufactured by them. They slept with their flocks in the many caves.
Water System Matera
Already in remote antiquity in Matera they had a sophisticated water system with a huge reservoir under the city. You can now visit a part of this underground water system, but we think it is really not recommended. One does the Italian and English speaking tour together and that way it takes hours and eventually you want just one thing: escape!
There is a cave, which is furnished as they used to live in it; at the Tourist Office are Carnets for sale to visit several cave dwellings and cave churches. In one of the churches they have a new special art exhibition every year.
The Cathedral and the Conservatory
Quite a climb to the top near the Cathedral which is being restored since about 2003. Just behind the “Palazzo del Sedile” you’ll find the conservatory on a cosy square from where you can descent again to the heart of the city, with some special and antique churches, a theatre and many fine shops too.
A visit to the museum in the Palazzo Lanfran-chi is definitely recommended. The museum specializes in the works of Carlo Levi who was besides a painter also a well-known writer with works like “Cristo si è Fermato a Eboli”. Also in this beautiful museum a large quantity of religious art. The palazzo in itself is magnificent.