16 Unmissable Things to Do in Matera, Italy

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In Matera Italy you’ll spend a lot of time in caves. You’ll sleep in a cave, eat in a cave, drink an aperitivo in a cave, and even view modern sculpture in a cave.

The ancient neighbourhoods, known as sassi, are a series of grottoes carved out of limestone, teetering on the edge of a ravine.

This southern Italian city is one of the most unique and spectacular places we’ve visited in Italy or anywhere in the world. We love it so much we’ve visited three times.

For years Matera wasn’t well known to foreign visitors, but that has been changing since it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, a European Capital of Culture in 2019, and the 2021 James Bond film No Time to Die was filmed here.

While visitor numbers have grown and many of the caves in Matera have been transformed into stylish hotels and restaurants, the city still has far fewer tourists than further north.

In this travel guide, I share the best things to do in Matera, where to stay and eat, how to get there, and a map with all the top Matera attractions.


Video: Explore Matera Italy

Watch our video for ideas of what to do in Matera.

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Matera Travel Tips and Facts

View of Matera sassi from  Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli
View of Matera sassi from Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli

Where is Matera Italy?

Matera is located in a remote corner of southern Italy in the small region Basilicata.

The nearest airport is 65km (40 miles) away in Bari in the neighbouring Puglia region. It’s only an hour’s drive and last time we booked a private taxi from the airport to Matera, which was super easy.

I recommend combining a trip to Matera with Puglia, which has many beautiful towns and beaches—discover the best places to visit in Puglia.

Matera is 250km (155 miles) or a 3-hour drive from Naples.

Below you’ll find more details on how to get to Matera.

How Old is the City of Matera Italy?

Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in history dating back to the Palaeolithic period.

On the other side of the ravine from the sassi, you can see the simple forms of the Neolithic caves where people lived 7000 years ago.

Neolithic caves in Matera, Italy
Neolithic caves in Matera

What is Matera Known For?

Matera is known as the city of caves with spectacular scenery, stylish cave hotels, and a fascinating history.

It wasn’t always a desirable location, though.

Until the 1950s, Matera was a source of shame for Italy. It was a place of poverty, malaria, and high rates of infant mortality, where people lived in caves without electricity, running water, or sewage.

Carlo Levi’s book Christ Stopped at Eboli, published in 1945, raised awareness of the desperate conditions people were living in.

About half of the 30,000 population were moved to new homes in the modern part of the city between 1953 and 1968.

How Many Days Do You Need in Matera?

Matera is very walkable and you can get a good sense of the sassi with one day in Matera.

Some people visit on a day trip from Puglia. While this is doable, I recommend staying for at least two nights.

Matera is such a special place that it’s worth at least two days to soak up the atmosphere, see the city lit up at night, and enjoy some delicious meals.

What to Pack for a Matera Trip

I recommend packing as lightly as possible. If you stay in the sassi of Matera, you won’t be able to park nearby and will likely need to carry your luggage up the many steep staircases.

If you are driving, it’ll be easier if you leave most of your luggage in the car and take a small backpack to your hotel.

Some hotels may be able to help with luggage or provide a valet parking service—check with them in advance.

The best way to explore Matera is on foot so comfortable shoes are essential.

In summer, I like a combination of Teva Verra hiking sandals and Allbirds ballet flats, which are dressier but still ultra comfortable.

In cooler weather, Allbirds Wool Runners are also super comfy for Matera sightseeing. See my Allbirds review for more details.

Our carry on packing list has everything we pack for our full-time travels.

Erin and Simon at Piazza San Pietro Caveoso viewpoint in Matera, Basilicata
At the Piazza San Pietro Caveoso viewpoint. I’m wearing Teva sandals and Simon is in his Allbirds Tree Runners.

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Best Things to Do in Matera Italy

1) Stay in a Matera Cave Hotel

Breakfast with a view at Il Belvedere Hotel in Matera
Delicious breakfast with a view at Hotel Il Belvedere, a cave hotel in Matera

One of the most unique things about Matera is the large number of cave hotels and B&Bs. Staying in one really adds to the magical experience of visiting the city.

On our latest Matera visit, we stayed in a cave room at Hotel Il Belvedere. The terrace has incredible views of the sassi and ravine (the perfect location for breakfast or a drink), and our huge room was cool even in 40ºC heat.

On a previous trip, we stayed at Bed and Breakfast La Corte dei Pastori in the heart of the old sassi. We loved the atmospheric rooms, gorgeous views, delicious breakfast, and friendly hosts.

See the Where to Stay in Matera section below for more details.

2) Wander and Get Lost

The best thing to do in Matera is wander and get lost in the incredible streets.

Although we preferred exploring alone, it could be worthwhile visiting with a guide to learn more about Matera’s history.

This two-hour guided tour of Matera’s sassi is affordable and gets excellent reviews. Or check out this private Matera walking tour for a more personal experience.

If you don’t want to walk, the only option is this tour in an Ape, an open-sided tuk-tuk.

From Matera’s train station we walked through the modern city of Baroque churches and graceful palaces.

The first glimpse of the sassi (the stones) stops you in your tracks, looking down at the dramatic tangle of grey stone houses; a contrast with the elegance of the new town.

Walking down a steep staircase, we plunged into a magical world that didn’t quite feel real.

View from Belvedere Luigi Guerricchio of the Sassi of Matera, Italy
View from Belvedere Luigi Guerricchio

Buildings climb up and down the hillside, houses piled on top of each other, the roofs of some acting as streets for those above.

They were carved out of rock and the original caves extended with facades that look like normal homes.

View of Matera sassi including the cathedral and Santa Maria di Idris rock church

The best way to explore the neighbourhoods Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso is on foot.

Roam through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, up and down uneven stone staircases, discovering dead ends and tiny courtyards adorned with flower pots, cave churches and expansive views of the sassi.

Sassi of Matera
Sassi of Matera

3) Admire Matera from a Viewpoint

Simon and Erin at Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli in Matera Italy
Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli at sunset

It’s not difficult to find scenic spots, but it’s worth seeking out some viewpoints for the absolute best panoramic views of Matera. Around sunset is usually a beautiful time and I also love to see the city lit up after dark.

  • Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli – My favourite viewpoint looks down into the sassi with views of the Duomo’s bell tower, the rock church, and the ravine. It’s off Via Ridola near two of the best places to eat and drink with a similar view—5 Lire (pizza slices) and Terrazza Cavaliere (drinks and aperitivo). See our Matera restaurants guide for details.
  • Piazza San Pietro Caveoso – Next to the Church of San Pietro e Paolo is a beautiful view down into the ravine. Walk further along the road here to look back at the rock church. You’ll likely pass here often as it’s close to many top Matera sights and restaurants.
  • Above Church of San Pietro Barisano – After visiting this rock church in Sasso Barisano, walk up the streets above it for an excellent view. Enjoy a drink at Crialoss Cafe. In the early evening, the light is wonderful here when the buildings are in shade at the other viewpoints.
  • Belvedere Luigi Guerricchio detto dei “Tre Archi” – Next to Matera’s main square, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, in the newer part of the city. It’s not as sweeping as the others and you can’t see the ravine, but it has a good view of the Duomo and you can see how densely packed the city is.

I also highly recommend hiking into the ravine for an excellent view.

Crialoss is one of the best restaurants in Matera with a view of the sassi
A drink at Crialoss Cafe is one of the best things to do in Matera

4) Visit Cave Churches

The cave church Santa Maria di Idris in Matera
Santa Maria di Idris cave church is a Matera must see

One of the best things to see in Matera is the many chiese rupestre, churches that have been carved out of the soft tufa rock. Many of them contain ancient frescoes.

The most famous cave church is Santa Maria di Idris with its dramatic location built into a huge rock on the edge of the ravine. It’s a distinctive sight from viewpoints throughout the city.

If you only have time for one Matera rock church, make it this one. It’s most impressive from the outside, but inside there are two small cave chapels featuring frescos from the 12th century. You can’t take photos inside.

Santa Lucia alle Malve is another cave church nearby. If you already have a cave church combo ticket, go straight to the entrance on the right. It’s less impressive from the outside but has some interesting art inside including the Virgin breastfeeding.

The third cave church included in the ticket is San Pietro Barisano, which is the largest rupestrian church and dates back to the 12th century. It’s on the other side of town in the quieter Sasso Barisano.

It also has some ancient frescos as well as a rather creepy crypt with seats carved into the walls where dead priests were left to decompose.

We visited just before it closed and combined it with a drink with a view at Crialoss Cafe, which is directly above the church.

The cave churches are open from 10am to 7pm every day. Entrance to Santa Maria di Idris is €4 or you can get a ticket valid for three rock churches for €8.

5) Explore the Uninhabited Caves of Sasso Caveoso

Most of the caves in Matera are now homes, hotels, restaurants, and bars.

But on the edge of town, on Rione Casalnuovo in Sasso Caveoso, you can peer into uninhabited caves and get a sense of what it was like to live here years ago.

It’s the rawer side of town, and for us, the most fascinating.

Uninhabited caves in Sasso Caveoso, Matera
Uninhabited caves in Sasso Caveoso, Matera
Uninhabited caves in Sasso Caveoso, Matera

6) Learn Matera’s History at Casa Noha

A good first stop for your Matera visit is Casa Noha, where you can watch a 30-minute film about Matera’s history.

It takes place in a historic building and you move between rooms for different sections of the film. While the film is in Italian, an audioguide is provided for English and other languages.

It really gives you some context to the city learning about how bad living conditions were up until the 1950s and how the sassi were abandoned entirely for years before being regenerated.

Casa Noha is open every day except Wednesdays from 10am to 7pm (5pm in winter). Entrance is €6.50.

7) Admire Sculptures at MUSMA

MUSMA (Museum of Contemporary Sculpture) is an art museum with modern sculptures scattered in the nooks and crannies of a 17th-century cave palace.

It’s an extraordinary setting and worth a visit even if you aren’t into modern art.

MUSMA is open every day from 10am to 8pm (until 6pm in winter). Entrance is €7.

8) Head Back in Time in a Casa Grotta (Cave House)

Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario cave house in Matera, Italy
Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario represents one of the old sassi di Matera cave dwellings

Some of the most interesting places to visit in Matera are the Casa Grotta (cave houses).

Several caves have been set up as typically furnished cave dwellings where you can see how people used to live.

The entire family (on average six members) including animals like mules, chickens, and pigs lived together in the cave. You can see the furnishings, tools, and other artefacts of the time.

These one-room museums are a fascinating insight into life in the sassi, especially when combined with the film at Casa Noha.

The most popular cave house is Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, which is conveniently located near the cave church Santa Maria di Idris in Sasso Caveoso.

It gets crowded with tour groups, though, so on our last visit we visited a quieter but just as interesting spot, Casa Grotta C’era Una Volta in Sasso Barisano.

Casa Grotta C’era Una Volta cave house in Matera Italy
Casa Grotta C’era Una Volta

Another option is Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo, which is only a three-minute walk from Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario.

Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario is open every day from 9.30am to 6pm (7pm on weekends). Entrance is €5.

Casa Grotta C’era Una Volta is open every day from 9am to 6pm (until 8pm in summer). Entrance is €2.

9) Walk into the Ravine

Cave city Matera on the edge of the ravine
Matera on the edge of the ravine

One of the top things to do in Matera is to walk down into the ravine that the city is perched on the edge of.

The whole area is part of the protected Parco della Murgia Materana. It’s wonderful to have access to nature so close to a vibrant city.

It looks daunting, but the walk down into the ravine and the return back up isn’t too difficult. Avoid the midday heat, though, and take plenty of water.

It’s quietest in the early morning (we had it almost to ourselves at 7am) and busiest towards sunset.

You can find the trail down at Porta Pistola (marked on Google Maps as “Ponte Tibetano della Gravina – Accesso al Parco della Murgia Materana”). There’s a map and a sign for the official trail name, Parco della Murgia Materana Sentiero 406 (Murgia Materana Park Trail 406).

The trail is rocky and quite steep, so decent shoes are a must. Simon wore his Teva hiking sandals while I wore my Allbirds Tree Dashers running shoes.

At the bottom of the ravine, turn right and walk along the river (loud with frog song) until you reach the suspension bridge, Ponte Tibetano della Gravina (15 minutes from the start).

Even if you just walk here, it’s worth it for another perspective of the city looming above.

If you are able, I highly recommend continuing on the trail up the other side of the ravine to Belvedere Murgia Timone.

The view here is spectacular. You can really take in the scope of Matera and the difference between Sasso Caveoso (simpler dwellings built into the rock) and Sasso Barisano (taller, grander buildings).

Matera view from Belvedere Murgia Timone on the ravine hike
Looking back at Matera from the other side of the ravine. Sasso Caveoso is on the left and Barisano is on the right.

Near the viewpoint are several rupestrian churches carved out of the rock including Sant’Agnese and Madonna delle Tre Porte.

They are gated (only accessible with a guide), but you can peer inside at the 13th-century frescoes.

Cave church on the Matera ravine hike
Outside a cave church on the Matera ravine hike

The out and back hike to Belvedere Murgia Timone was 3.5km (2.2 miles) and took us 1 hour 15 minutes with 211 metres (692 feet) of elevation gain. Most people allow around two hours for the trip.

If you are keen to carry on walking, choose from the many trails that crisscross the hillside.

If you don’t feel like hiking, you can reach the viewpoint by car—it’s a 15-minute drive from Matera Centrale train station. It would be stunning at sunset.

You can also explore the cave churches without hiking the ravine on this guided tour to Murgia Park.

10) Visit Matera’s Duomo (Cathedral)

Matera Duomo or Cathedral

Matera’s Cathedral, Cattedrale di Maria Santissima della Bruna e Sant’Eustachio, is more simply known as Il Duomo.

It was built in the 13th century at the highest point in the old city, on a ridge between the two sassi. Its bell tower dominates the skyline in Matera.

The Romanesque exterior is simple, except for the beautiful rose window. The interior decoration was added centuries later and is much more ornate with lots of gold and ceiling frescos. Entrance costs €1.

If you need a drink or a break, the Duomo Cafè on the piazza was surprisingly affordable given its setting.

11) Explore More Matera Churches

Chiesa San Pietro Caveoso and Santa Maria di Idris churches in Matera
Chiesa San Pietro Caveoso with Santa Maria di Idris rock church above it

Aside from the cathedral and rock churches, there are many other churches to visit, but I wouldn’t say they are a Matera must-do. All these have free entry.

We didn’t find the interior of 13th century San Pietro Caveoso very exciting, but next to the church there’s a stunning view into the ravine.

Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi has an impressive Baroque exterior that reminded us of Lecce. Inside it feels newer.

Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista feels different from the others with Gothic and Romanesque elements. It’s in the newer part of the city on a cute piazza that’s a lively place for a drink in the evening.

12) Eat a Delicious Meal

The food in Matera is on a par with our favourite Italian food in neighbouring Puglia and uses lots of fresh seasonal vegetables.

You’ll find the same huge plates of antipasti as well as orecchiette pasta and fava bean puree with chicory. Look out for delicious bread, too.

Some of our favourite restaurants are Trattoria del Caveoso, La Lopa, and Dimitria.

For a casual meal, pick up a slice of pizza from 5 Lire or a plate of pasta from Kapunto Pasta Lab.

And don’t miss gelato at I Vizi degli Angeli.

See our detailed guide to the best restaurants in Matera Italy for more recommendations.

13) Enjoy an Aperitivo with a View

Simon with cocktails at Terrazza Cavaliere and a view of Matera sassi
Simon at Terrazza Cavaliere with a view of Matera sassi

The perfect way to end a busy day exploring Matera is to enjoy a drink (preferably an Aperol Spritz) with some delicious snacks and a view of the sassi.

Our favourite bars with a view are Terrazza Cavaliere (head to the terrace out the back) and Crialoss Cafe (on top of the cave church San Pietro Barisano). They are on opposite sides of town so you get a different perspective.

Our post on where to eat in Matera has more suggestions.

14) See an Old Olive Press at Moom

Wooden olive press at MOOM olive oil museum in Matera

MOOM, the Matera Olive Oil Museum, is a small family-run museum in an underground oil mill dating back to the 15th century.

You can see how olive oil was once made—it was used for lamp oil rather than for eating. The stable housed two donkeys who worked the circular stone mill to squash the olives into a paste.

The paste was put into woven bags and placed under massive wooden presses, which were used to extract the oil.

It was arduous work that took place 24 hours a day during olive harvest season—the workers slept there for a few hours between shifts.

After the tour, you can do a tasting of the owner’s olive oil, which is produced on a farm outside Matera. Prices are quite reasonable if you choose to buy some.

Visits to MOOM are by appointment only at least a few days in advance (I emailed). The tour is usually in Italian but audioguides are available for English speakers. It costs €7 (cash only). Allow 20 – 60 minutes.

15) Venture Underground at Palombaro Lungo

Palombaro Lungo underground cistern in Matera Italy

Matera’s network of underground cisterns is one of the reasons it gained UNESCO World Heritage status.

Palombaro Lungo is the largest of the cisterns, a below-ground Cathedral of Water carved out of the rock. It was used for collecting and storing rainwater for over a century up until the early 20th century.

People extracted the water using buckets dipped into a well. You can still see the rusty marks that lost buckets made on the ceiling.

It’s a cool sight, but a visit won’t take long. There are guided tours at certain times in Italian or as we did, do a self-guided tour with an English leaflet.

Palombaro Lungo is open every day from 9.30am to 1pm and 3pm to 6.30pm (times may vary throughout the year). Entrance is €3.

16) Discover the Underground City at Ipogeo MateraSum

Ipogeo MateraSum is not far from Palombaro Lungo. It feels off the beaten track and there were only two other visitors on our summer visit.

The underground area has been excavated to reveal how a network of Matera caves was once used by residents. There’s a bakery, mill, homes, quarry, church and more.

After watching a five-minute video, you can explore the complex with an audioguide downloaded on your phone (unfortunately, the English translations weren’t great). It takes about 30 minutes.

Ipogeo MateraSum is open every day from 10am to 7pm. Entrance is €7.

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Where to Stay in Matera

The most atmospheric places to stay in Matera are cave hotels and B&Bs in the sassi.

The best Matera accommodation does book up, so plan well in advance if you can.

Hotel Il Belvedere

Superior cave room at Hotel Il Belvedere in Matera
Our superior cave room at Hotel Il Belvedere

On our last trip to Matera, we stayed at Hotel Il Belvedere and loved it.

It has the perfect location on the edge of Sasso Caveoso. It’s outside the ZTL (limited traffic zone) so you can drop off your luggage at the door, unlike many hotels deep in the sassi. It’s a 10-minute walk from free parking, but we arrived by taxi.

It’s close to all the Matera highlights on foot.

As the name suggests, the hotel has the most spectacular view from its terrace of Matera and the ravine. It’s one of the best views in the city.

View of Matera sassi from Hotel Il Belvedere
Stunning night view of the Matera sassi from the terrace of Hotel Il Belvedere

On the terrace you can enjoy the included delicious breakfast buffet (the focaccia and homemade chocolate cake with Aglianico wine were the highlights) or later in the day, have a drink and tagliere board of cheese, bruschetta, and taralli (they made us a vegetarian version for lunch).

Tagliere at Hotel Il Belvedere in Matera
Our delicious lunch at Hotel Il Belvedere

You can choose from regular or cave rooms. We had a Superior Double Room, which is the largest cave room with plenty of space for the four poster bed, day bed, and desk. We loved the exposed stone walls, especially in the bathroom.

The rooms have air conditioning, but we barely needed it in our cool cave, even when it was 40ºC outside (we retreated here in the hottest part of the day). We had no issues with damp either.

Of course, the downside of a cave room is limited natural light, but there is a window in the door to let in some light.

We highly recommend Il Belvedere. Check availability and latest prices here.

B&B La Corte dei Pastori

On a previous trip, we stayed at Bed and Breakfast La Corte dei Pastori run by the friendly young couple Tiziana and Mimmo.

We stayed in the largest room with a spacious living area with a couch, table and fridge, and a bedroom at the other end.

It’s been lovingly restored with an arched ceiling from rustic creamy stone and the decor is kept simple with just some lovely details like a carving of the city along the wall.

B&B La Corte dei Pastori, a cave hotel in Matera, Italy
Our cave room at B&B La Corte dei Pastori
B&B La Corte dei Pastori review, a cave hotel in Matera, Italy

The cave is cool inside but doesn’t feel damp. There’s good WiFi and the bathroom has a powerful rain shower and is decorated with a colourful mural of the Basilicata countryside.

The best thing about the B&B is the location, right next to San Pietro Caveoso church on the edge of the ravine, with wonderful views of the sassi through the glass door in the room and from the terrace.

It’s an incredibly scenic location for breakfast, and the food is delicious—a big spread of focaccia, bread, jams, croissants, biscuits, yoghurt, fruit, juice, and coffee, far more than we could eat.

Breakfast with a view at La Corte dei Pastori cave hotel in Matera, Italy
Breakfast with a view at La Corte dei Pastori
The view from La Corte dei Pastori in Matera, Italy
The view from La Corte dei Pastori

The B&B is in the limited traffic zone and up some stairs from Piazza San Pietro Caveoso. You should be able to arrive by taxi, and it’s near a bus stop so you can take a bus from their recommended car park, Parcheggio Via Saragat.

La Corte dei Pastori is a wonderful place to stay in Matera—it’s unique, friendly, and has an incredible location. It books up fast, though. Check availability here

Other Matera Cave Hotels

Some other Matera cave hotels I was tempted by include:

  • Palazzo degli Abati – We had a drink at this hotel in quieter Sasso Barisano and it has a stunning view. Choose from cave or regular rooms—both look beautiful and have direct access to that wonderful terrace.
  • Aquatio Cave Luxury Hotel – One of the best hotels in Matera. The cave rooms look gorgeous (especially the suites) and there’s even a cave swimming pool and spa!
  • Palazzotto Resident Residence and Winery – Incredibly atmospheric and stylish cave rooms near the Duomo. You can try the owner’s wines onsite too.
  • Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita – Romantic cave rooms and suites overlooking the ravine. Some have free-standing bathtubs and all have a unique charm. One of the top Matera cave hotels.

Search for more B&Bs and hotels in Matera here

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How to Get to Matera

Matera by Plane

The nearest airport to Matera is 65km away in Bari, Puglia (airport code BRI).

I highly recommend combining Matera with a visit to the neighbouring region of Puglia (here are the Puglia towns I recommend).

On all of our trips, Bari was our access point—there’s a major train station and an airport served by budget airlines.

Search on Kiwi.com for the cheapest flights to Bari.  

From the airport, you can hire a car or take the airport shuttle bus. The Pugliairbus takes 1 hour 15 minutes from Bari airport to Matera. It costs just €5.

You can also arrange a private transfer from the airport to Matera. We did this on our last trip and it was so easy. The driver met us in the airport arrivals hall, and an hour later, after a comfy ride in a spacious minivan, we arrived at our hotel in Matera. Check availability here.

Bari is worth spending a day to explore the old town. See our guide to the best things to do in Bari Italy.

Matera by Car

From Bari you can also hire a car—either from the airport if arriving by plane or from the centre if arriving by train.

This is the best option if you are planning to tour Puglia as well as visit Matera.

We use Booking.com Car Rentals to find the best deal.

Parking and navigating the streets in Matera can be tricky, but we have managed it before.

Once you are in Matera you don’t need a car unless you want to visit some of the attractions further afield. The city is fairly small and walkable, as long as you can deal with the many staircases.

On our most recent trip, we took a taxi from Bari airport to Matera and then back to Bari centre (we could also have taken the train).

After spending a few days there, we rented a car to travel the rest of Puglia. This worked out well for us and was easier than having a car in the cities.

Where Can I Park in Matera Italy?

The biggest problem with travelling to Matera by car is that you are not allowed to park in the sassi or historic centre unless you have a permit.

For most of the day it’s not even possible to drive into the ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone).

It’s best to ask your accommodation in advance where to park in Matera that’s closest to them. In some cases, you might be able to drop off your luggage and then go to park your car outside the centre.

Driving in the sassi is quite stressful, though, so I’d avoid it if possible.

One of the nearest car parks to the sassi is Parcheggio Nicoletti Michele, which costs €20 for 24 hours and can be booked in advance.

It’s privately run and you need to leave your keys with them, but it gets good reviews. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to B&B La Corte dei Pastori.

A cheaper parking spot is Parcheggio Via Saragat, a large car park that costs €0.50 per hour.

It’s a 25-minute walk from the car park to the B&B or you can take the Linea Sassi bus from outside.

This bus runs every 30 minutes right into the sassi and ends at Piazza San Pietro Caveoso. You can buy tickets on board for €1.50.

For staying at Hotel Il Belvedere, there’s free parking a 10-minute walk away on Via Cappuccini, but you can’t book it in advance. Or Parcheggio Via Vena is a 5-minute walk away and costs €1 an hour.

Matera by Train

Taking the train avoids parking hassles. The train from Bari to Matera is run by a private company and is a slow commuter train that doesn’t run on Sundays.

You can see the timetable on the Ferrovie Appulo Lucane website. Tickets cost €5.70 each way and it takes about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Trains leave from the FAL station next to the main station in Bari.

From Matera Centrale station you can walk to the sassi in about 15 minutes or take the Linea Sassi bus.

The walk involves lots of stairs, though, so it’s best if you are travelling with a smaller backpack rather than a rolling suitcase.

To travel by train from elsewhere in Italy to Matera, you will have to change in Bari.

You can buy tickets to Bari on TrenItalia (using Italian place names).

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Matera Italy Map

This Matera map features all the attractions, restaurants, hotels and other locations mentioned in this guide to Matera.

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Is Matera Italy Worth Visiting?

Yes, Matera is absolutely worth visiting! Matera is truly special—it has a spectacular setting, fascinating history, and excellent cuisine. It’s as beautiful as many cities in Italy but far less crowded.

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More Italy Posts

Read our other posts to help you plan your Italy trip.

Matera and Puglia

The Rest of Italy

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  1. Your blog is really useful and full of information. It feels like I found a treasure chest. I was able to get enough information for my trip. thank you. I wish you good health and good luck!

    Reply ↓

  2. Loving your Italian blogs, my husband and I adore Italy and have travelled to many of the same areas. Your writing style is so similar to mine when giving information to friends or posting on fb, who all tell me I should set up my own online travel agency/blog! We are travelling to Matera in October and your tips have been invaluable, especially regarding hotels. We are staying 2 nights at Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, which has been on my bucket list of places to stay for 10 years (so unique and worth a mention), but our first 2 nights are at Il Belvadere, on your recommendation. I am already best friends with the charming Davide on email! Places to stay in Matera do book up well in advance (I blame the latest James Bond film 🥴), so always worth planning as far ahead as possible.

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  3. Your thoroughness is greatly appreciated! I’m glad you had a soul quenching trip. I’ll definitely add this to my bucket list

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  4. Excellent post! So much detail and I am super keen to visit Matera now. What would you recommend for a first time traveller to Italy for a 4 week holiday?

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    • That’s a difficult question as it depends on your interests and how fast you want to travel, but it’s great you have so much time!

      The classic destinations are Venice, Florence and Rome, which are all worth visiting. I would definitely add Matera and Puglia and a few other smaller places. Towns in Tuscany, and Cinque Terre and the Rapallo area in Liguria are all possibilities.


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  5. My wife requires a walker/wheelchair to get around. Is it possible to see Matera this way/or are there any excursions from Bari that could accommodate us?

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  6. Erin,
    My wife and I will be visiting Matera at the end of September 2022. We will be on a Rick Steves Tour and we will be there for two days. We will have quite a bit of free time while there. My question is this: My grandmother was born in Matera in the late 1800’s, she left and traveled to America in 1912. She never returned, however, she left family members there. I’m interested in finding out anything I can about her family, where they lived, where they are buried, anything! Any suggestions?

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    • I’m really not sure. Perhaps contact a local guide as they would have a better idea where to start. Good luck with it!

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    • A local guide can take you to the city hall.
      If you know names, birth & marriage dates you might be able to get copies from their excellent hand written records.
      I was very successful in Bisacquina.

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  7. looking to visit Matera in May 2022.
    taking your suggestion for the stay of 2 days. Where would it be best for our main arrival, to fly into? and should we drive to Matera or a bus?

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  8. Hi – Awesome article. Super useful. A quick question. I would be staying in hotel L’Hotel in Pietra and would flying in from Milan. Would you know far is the Pugliairbus stop from the hotel? Also, is there any bus that I take from the hotel to the Bari train station (my return is through Bari train station). Thank you.

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  9. we have been to Matera absolutely a magical city. My family came from the Matera and Bari region just love it.

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  10. Hi Erin,
    Sounds like a wonderful city to visit especially after watching No Time to Die.
    What is the festival in the movie about burning a paper to forget the past? And when is that and called?
    So is it sage for a solo to take a bus or train from Bari? I think it is but just like to reconfirm.

    Thanks so much
    Jeannie butler

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    • Hi Jeannie, it is such a beautiful city and safe for solo travellers to get there from Bari.

      I think they made the festival up for the film, but it is partly based on Matera’s largest festival, Festa della Bruna, which takes place on 2nd July each year.

      I hope you make it there!

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  11. My friend is in Matera now. He sent me amazing photos of this incredible place. The caves, the buildings, the food,
    what a historical phenomenon. He can’t stop raving about Matera. I can see why by the photos.
    Hopefully some day I’ll get there. Italy has always been my favourite country, along with Cuba.
    Matera is a must. Totally unique. Looks tranquil and peaceful.

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  12. I had the pleasure of celebrating my 60th birthday during the month of September 2010, in Italy. Part of the trip was a bike trip along the Bari Coast. Every place we went was amazing, full of history, beauty, delicious food, wine and happy kind people. The weather was perfect everyday. The trip was everything and more than what I had hoped for. The unexpected surprise was a last minute change of plans to Matera….it is an unforgettable not very well known treasure. Stayed in one of he caves and had amazing food. DO NOT miss an opportunity to visit this city.

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  13. Just saw a video on Utube done by ProWalk that was amazing.
    This cave city is fascinating and to see structures (restaurants,churches
    and residences built into solid stone is unbelieving.
    Most definitely Italy’s most unfamiliar gem and worth a trip (although
    not for the aged population with stone walks and many many steps).

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  14. Planning two month European 50th Anniversary trip October and November 2021. November part one week Capri, 10 days touring Puglia, first stop Matera (coincidently, booked at La Corte die Pastori). Then Lecce, down to the tip of the boot heel, Polignano, back to Naples and then 2 weeks Rome and day trips nearby. The only thing that can stop two old dreamers is Wuhan Virus. But the WILL to travel is strong.

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  15. We plan to Visit Matera, Italia in 2021, or 2022. We wanted to visit in the month of Sept. What is the weather usually like at that time of the year? Is there a flight right to this area from Vancouver, B.C> Canada? Or will we have to fly to another city and then take a train to Matera?

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    • The weather is perfect in September – it should be hot and sunny but not as steaming hot as the summer. The closest airport is Bari and you can take the train from there.

      I’m not sure if there are direct flights from Vancouver (it seems likely you’d have to change somewhere in Italy). You can check routes and prices on sites like Skyscanner and Kiwi.

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      • It is n0t that difficult to drive from Naples or Rome either. Probably 3 hours from Naples, 5 hours from Rome. If you’re going to rent a car anyway, that might be a good option and then you can stop at a couple places along the way.

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  16. My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy in March. We saw some photos and videos of Matera and are interested in staying in some of your “cave hotels” near the Sassi area. We would like to speak with someone who can give recommendations, by phone.
    We have not seen any phone numbers to actually speak with someone. The hotel booking companies do not list any phone numbers, only email addresses.

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  17. As a Grammy of 6 and one who has visited Matera, it might be a difficult day for small ones. There is tons of walking in Matera and most of it on steps. I can imagine this would get exhausting to small ones and perhaps dampen an unbelievable day for you. This was one of our favorite places and is truly unique and amazing. There is nothing you would wish to miss in one of the world’s oldest cities. Have the best time!!

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  18. Hi Jenny,

    I’m not Erin (clearly), but I spend a lot of time in Matera every year and have for the past decade as my husband is from there. (You’ll probably walk by what used to be his grandmother’s house if you do go! It’s very close to a central plaza in the sassi.)

    I don’t travel with kids but I’d say if the kids in question like to spend time outdoors, there’s plenty to do in Matera. As Erin mentioned, you can hike down into the ravine, and I’ve seen plenty of children having fun just running up and down the staircases in the sassi. You can go around to the Belvedere across the ravine from Matera and explore that area. Since you’ll be there in July, you can eat outdoors on terraces, which gives your children more freedom to get up during meals should they become restless.

    I’m not sure what the itinerary for the rest of your trip is, but Matera is just over an hour’s drive from Bari, so you could easily go for a day and leave if it was too much for your kids.

    I’m obviously highly biased but I very much recommend Matera! As Erin said, it’s a spectacular and unique place – very unlike anything else I’ve seen in Italy.

    Hope you have a great time on your trip, wherever you end up going!

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    • I agree and can’t see any reason not to bring your kids as long as they are ok with walking. If you rely on strollers you might struggle as there are quite a lot of steps.

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  19. Hi Erin!
    This info is fantastic, thank you! We are visiting Bari in July 2020 and I’d love to make the trip to Matera. We will have a personal driver familiar with the area. We will also have 4 kids ages 2-7. Would you recommend not bringing them to Matera?

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  20. Hi. I will be arriving in Bari Central at 19.10pm. Is it possible to get a direct train to Matera.

    Thanks in dvance

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  21. Hi Erin!
    Your blog is amazing! I stumbled upon it on Pinterest and was about to skim through as I usually would, but instead, found myself completely engrossed as if reading a favorite book. This post and the one you wrote on the best cities to visit in Puglia are so in-depth, perceptive, and beautifully written!

    As someone who’s never visited these places, you’ve helped break the areas down geographically in such an easy way to understand and envision, making it much much more easier for us to plan our trip. Thank you!

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    • Aw, thank you Thao for such kind words :) Good luck with your trip planning and feel free to ask any questions.

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  22. Is Matera a good base to move around Puglia by train? We are not hiring a car. We plan to stay in Matera for 4 days and do day trips from there.

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  23. Hello! I plan to visit Matera in early May and am wondering if I can survive off of just knowing English? I ask bc on this trip I’m also visiting France and French is the language I’ve wanted to learn for awhile so that’s what I am focusing on learning. I feel like if I try to learn both I won’t learn either.

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    • I went to Matera as part of my honeymoon in September 2017. You will be fine just speaking English. All the restaurants, hotels and shop owners know English. Enjoy, it’s a wonderful place!!

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  24. We will be spending a the month of May 2019 in Italy. WE plan to travel to the Puglia area from Florence. Is there a train that runs from Rome to the area? Also we’ll be going to Naples/Amalfi after Puglia. Does a train go to either from Bari? Or should we rent a car?

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    • Yes, there is a train from Rome to Puglia – the main hubs are Bari and Lecce. You can see more info in the transport section of our Puglia post: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/8-towns-not-to-miss-in-puglia/ and check the TrenItalia website for timetables (make sure you use Italian place names eg. Roma and Napoli).

      You could also get the train from Bari to Naples, but you have to change trains (usually in Caserta). From Naples you’ll most likely have to get a bus to the Amalfi towns depending on where you want to visit as trains are limited.

      It’s definitely possible to visit Puglia and Amalfi without a car, but it is easier with one as public transport can be slow and infrequent.

      Have a great trip!

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  25. Looking at going to Matera in June. We are vegan and grain free due to Diabetes. We will need to make our own food. Are there open air markets to get fresh vegetables? Also, is there enough to experience there that isn’t restaurant/food based?

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  26. I am LITERALLY booking AirBNB’s for Matera & Bari this weekend, flights are already booked for next month (Feb 2019) and my husband and I are so looking forward to exploring an incredible place like Matera! I would welcome any recommendations you may have on the number of nights you think would be good for each spot? We’re travelling for 2 weeks (International flight in/out of Rome, then taking a train to the SE), have been to Italy before just not the SE side and thought we’d spend this time ‘getting lost’ in only a couple (2-3) smaller towns. Your blog has some great resources, thanks for putting this all out there for us to utilize. Safe & Happy Travels!

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  27. This site has sure peeked our interest….what would you suggest for a two week tour …..we have been to the Amalfi and Vienna and all places in the middle..Tuscany, that is……Now we are interested in southern Italy…..your Blog on Materra is wonderful. …Sny suggestions would be appreciated…we are thinking Sept 2019 ….Paddy, Ontario, Canada

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  28. We were just there last week. Old part of town(Sassi) is very interesting. What isn’t mentioned is there is a newer and thriving city above on top of the plateau.
    We did a lot of walking and lots of stairs, good shoes are a must. We also took a tour in a Piaggio, which I found amusing.
    Thre are some caves converted to display life about the time of the govt relocation plan. 35000 years of continuous occupation. Hike or take a taxi to the other side to see primitive caves and use your imagination.

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  29. Hi there

    We are planning on spending two nights in Matera for our honeymoon :)
    Date: 12th August-14th August.

    Could you give us some suggestions and advice on the best place to stay (we are traveling on a budget and like the idea of clean, simple, safe bed and breakfasts)
    and some of the best things to do in Matera!

    Look forward to hearing back
    Gina and Benni

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      • Stop in at the IDRIS CAFE. the couple who own it are so hospitable and it is very small and they deserve the business as anyone with a business there does. It is a thriving area. Mind you, in that part of Italy, they do stick to the “nothing is open between 1-4” and then from 4-7 menus are limited as dinner is served beginning at 7. It is not as much about making the money as the Americans . We spent three wonderful days there. You will find wonderful food and service no matter where you go . And the education you will receive is abundant. We did this area on a bike trip and made our way to Lecce and Ostuni. Have a blast and Congratulations!!!!!

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      • It’s me again, I came across my travel log and Idris cafe is owned by Phillipo and his wife Anna. We also ate at a great place called SOUL KITCHEN. PANECOTTO is another

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  30. I have been to Matera and absolutely love this region! I have clients going there in April! May I share your post with them? It has so much great information that I know they will love!

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  31. Thank you for visiting our beautiful home town of Matera and thank you for such a beautiful blog post about our special town.

    Matera is just the start of what our region, Basilicata, has to offer. It is a region rich with beautiful places, incredible countryside and hospitable people. Truly you can experience a more authentic Italy here and for the last year we’ve been developing a project that will let you see the culture, taste the food and meet the people through the eyes of our Italian family and the local people. We’d love to welcome everyone to see an Italy Undisturbed with us at http://www.lalucana.com

    Thanks again for a great post about our unique city!

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      • Erin, great post. I plan trip in October and am looking for a driver to transport me to Tricarico(1 hour west) and back for an afternoon. I have relatives their and want to do some ancestral sleuthing. Any recommendations?

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        • I’m afraid I don’t know anyone. Maybe ask your hotel? It sounds like a fun trip!

  32. I have booked a 2 night stay in Matera mid-september 2017… so looking forward to it.
    The information and pictures on this site only serve to pique my curiosity even more! It will be awesome to get lost in Matera!

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  33. Oh how I love Matera! Couldn’t agree more that it’s the most spectacular (and peculiar) city in Italy. We stayed for two days two years ago, and since then I’ve been dreaming to go back and burst with joy each time I read something (like this) about Matera. :)


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  34. Hi!
    I notice this is not a recent post. But I’m currently checking for our trip to Matera next month. It’s good to pick up a lot of info from your site. One thing I’d like to know, which part of Matera was that pic from the ravine taken from? Is that near the duomo side? I would like to explore the place outside the stone city as well.

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    • I was there in Jan 17 and rented an apartment – Il Tempo Ritrovato – from booking.com. Very close to everything yet not touristy.

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    • Hi Anne, I think the top photo was taken from the Sasso Caveoso area where you can visit uninhabited caves.

      The second photo was taken from the more modern side of the city. It’s a small city so it’s easy to walk between both areas.

      Have an amazing trip!

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      • Thank you for your feedback Erin!
        Had a wonderful time in Matera. Unfortunately I couldn’t explore the ravine part as our toddler was with us. Amazing place indeed!

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  35. Excellent photos and explanations of cave developments. Our 2 hour walkabout was amazing! Everyone should see how man triumphed with ..not over…his natural surroundings.

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  36. Matera is beautiful! I would love to go there one day! When I retired in 5 years, i would love to travel all over Italy and definitely will go to Matera. I;ve been going back in forth to Italy since my sisters and brother still lives there. I love ancient/biblical places! Thanks for the pictures and blogs.

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  37. I’ll be in Matera for a few days in January, 2017. I know the climbing will be necessary but are there any B&B’s that are a bit closer to ground level?

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    • I don’t remember the hills being too bad around the B&B we recommended in this post. Otherwise you could try finding somewhere in the new part of town, but it will be less atmospheric.

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  38. I am going to visit Puglia and especially Matera. In between I am about to launch private journeys to Kerala South India . I am a Keralan by heritage.

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  39. My grandfather was born in matera in the late 1800’s. His name was Joseph Pastore, and my Grandmother Angelina came to the US in the early 1900’s. I would love any information anyone has on them. My parents are both now deceased and they had very limited info on my Grandparents.

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  40. Matera is the birthplace (Via San Giovanni Vecchio, No.44, Matera) of my maternal grandmother who emigrated to La America in the early part of the 20thC. My mother spoke of this place though she never, nor have I, visited. I am going soon… The dialect in my family was fascinating – I took an Italian class, formal Italian, and when I would try to speak in Italian with my mom we both got blanks! Then when the dialect engaged English, Mama Mia!

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  41. I very recently visited Matera and have re-read your blog to remind me of it! Brilliant photos and a clear unsentimental article. Matera is an amazing place, truly special, so glad I visited when I did – it’s been named as European City of Culture 2019 so I don’t suppose the undiscovered feel will last for much longer.

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  42. Wonderful travel blog, the photos of Matera are the best I have seen and your description is beautifully written. My family and I stumbled on this exceptional place looking for a place to camp in the off season, traveling from Amafi to the East Coast in Jan 2014. We had the place to ourselves, it was cool, clear and incredible.

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  43. Emily,
    I thought I’d seen it all having traveled to so many places in the world but this is so incredible – I have to go there and have not seen anything like this place. I wonder why I dont see Matera more on travel shows? Thanks so much for sharing this.

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  44. I am taking my lady in February and wondered any recommendations for good eating places please. It looks like a very unique place and looking forward to the trip.

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  45. Am looking to purchase a book on Matera, Italy as a gift for my grandson, Dominic Matera. Any suggestions on where to purchase???

    Thanks in advance,

    Catherine Murphy

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  46. I stayed in Matera for 3 nights in May and I agree with you that it wasn’t long enough. We loved it! We spent a day walking through the park across the valley and exploring the ancient caves and cave churches! It was fabulous. We hope to return to Matera one day too.

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  47. I love your photos and the detail of information that you give. I am off the Puglia in May 2014 and have 3 nights in Matera. I am so excited to see this region of Italy. Thanks for sharing.

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  48. after seeing the first pic, i thought this was cappadocia! (i was just there). but yea this place is going on my list of places to go for a future italy trip! cheers for sharing

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  49. Beautiful place and beautiful photos. I wonder if the caves, like the B&B you stayed in, are too cold in the fall-spring for a comfortable stay. I read about Matera recently because it has applied to be the capital of culture in Europe, which would give it funding for restoration and tourism projects.

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    • I’m not sure. I’d check if they have heating but we’ve been in May and September and it was still hot so I imagine it’s still nice in April and October too.

      Yes, the building work to the cave church was because they are sprucing things up for the capital of culture bid.

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  50. I had no idea Italy still had malaria until the 50s! Wow! It must have been such a different place. The contrast between the setting and the ancient look of the town with your super modern B&B is quite remarkable; what a magical place!

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    • It’s shocking isn’t it? I just read Delizia a history of Italian food and many people in Italy were starving into the late 50s/early 60s when manufacturing increased in northern Italy and the country’s economy grew dramatically. Before then it was quite rural and poor, especially in the south (hence all the immigration to the US and Argentina/Brazil).

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  51. Only spent one day/night there in September en route north from Puglia – and, like you, could have spent many more just wandering around the place – will definitely be back.

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  52. What a special place! I haven’t been to Matera, though I did get to visit some really unique places my last trip to Italy. I don’t know how I missed this! Adding it to the list for next time :)

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  53. Love this, I just wrote about Matera too, I was there in July – did we overlap? I am glad you all noticed what a special place this is too! I can’t wait to go back :)

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  54. Wow. This just shot to the top of my must visit in Italy list. I’m guessing it will be worthwhile delaying it until next spring now though for the good weather.

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    • On both visits we made the mistake of only booking a few nights. There isn’t a huge amount of typical things to do but we could easily spend a month living there and discovering new alleyways and getting lost for hours.

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