Monday, 1 September 2014

Matera and surroundings

Last Summer Rob and I started a new tradition: we decided that evey time we travel to Pescara we also take the opportunity to visit a new place in Italy. Last year we went to Tuscany and this time we opted for Matera, also known among Italians as "La Città dei Sassi", the city of rocks. Matera is a city in the Southern region of Basilicata, about four hours by car from Pescara. Matera is well known around the world for its historical centre, the so called Sassi, a UNESCO World Heritage, which has also been the set of several movies, Italian as well as international, such as The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson. The Sassi originate from a prehistoric settlement and later, with time, domestic houses were dug into the caves themselves. We were lucky enough to sleep in one of the original caves as our hotel was right in the middle of the Sassi. 


When we arrived we took a guided walking tour of the town which was the best way to start its visit and understand the history and complicated geography of the area. We visited original houses, water refineries as well as churches. It was very picturesque to walk around hundreds of tiny, white stone streets. 


Matera lies on a small canyon and on day two we decided to go down to the stream and climb up to the top of the opposite mountain. It took us quite a long time and our muscles were all aching by the end of it but it was so worth it. The view of the Sassi from there was amazing and we also got to see prehistoric caves and rupestrian churches. 


We absolutey loved Matera and were able to relax and let our hair down. On day three, we made our way to Puglia to visit Castel del Monte, a 13th century castle, built by Federico II at the very top of a promontory. I had been meaning to visit this castle for many years and was very happy to finally explore it. What makes this castle particularly interesting is its unique design, with an octagonal prism plan and octagonal towers on each corner. It was a very nice way to end our little holiday before going back to baby! 


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