Nestled within the tranquil atmosphere of southern Italy, the province and city of Matera is arguably one of the best-kept secrets that this country has to offer. It is known for its amenable temperatures throughout the years as well as for a host of historic locations to visit during your stay. Although slightly off of the beaten track when compared with other locations such as Sicily or Venice, the fact of the matter is that Matera could be just what you have been looking for if you desire a bit of peace and tranquillity during your next holiday. So, what can you expect and what are some of the major sites to take into account ahead of time?
The Principal Sights in and Around Matera
Many feel that the ancient town (known as the Sassi) is the most popular attraction here, as the buildings date back to prehistoric ages. In fact, some scientists feel that the old town is the first settlement within the entire country. Many of these structures are actually cave-like dwellings that had been carved out of the nearby limestone, so they are excellent windows into the development of humanity. It is therefore ironic that the entire area was associated with poverty until the 1980s when UNESCO designated Sassi as a World Heritage Site. Now, hundreds of thousands of tourists make their way through its winding streets each and every year.
Matera is also known for its well-preserved monasteries and churches. Unlike many other locations throughout Europe, these structures escaped the bombings associated with the Second World War. So, you can catch an up-close-and-personal view of their true majesty during your visit. The majority of these sights are found within the nearby village of Apulia. The Matera Catherdal is undoubtedly the most popular attraction and masses are still regularly held here. It was originally constructed in 1389 and its facades reflect the Byzantine style of the time.
Tramantano Castle is another very famous location; partially arising from the fact that the structure itself was never completely finished. Regardless of this aspect, it can be seen from miles around and its battlements are some of the most impressive in Europe. There are numerous locations to enjoy a picnic outside of its confines and it is also possible to reserve guided tours of its interior. As the castle is very well known, it is always a good idea to schedule reservations in advance.
Tricks and Tips When Visiting Matera
Please note that this village is quite small when compared to other metropolitan areas such as Rome or Sicily. It is therefore a good idea to learn at least a basic level of Italian before you arrive. While the weather is not a concern, visiting during the summer months is often associated with an inundation of tourists. IF you hope to avoid throngs of visitors, it could be a much better idea to schedule a flight during the autumn or the early spring.