Italy: I Sassi di Matera

January 23, 2014


When I travel, I like to do the touristy things, which in Italy would consist of riding a gondola in Venice, getting my photo with The Leaning Tower of Pisa, visiting the Colosseum and so on.  I played the part of the typical tourist in Italy long ago when my best friend at the time and I took three weekend trips to Venice, Rome, and Florence.  While it was fun, I do have to say that I also enjoy going to places that are off the beaten path and always hope to venture out further than the common tourist normally would.  While I was staying in Italy, I got into a discussion with one of my ex-boyfriend's friends who was as passionate about traveling as I was, and he recommended that I try to go to I Sassi di Matera in the Basilicata region, which was a couple hours away from where I was staying.  "I Sassi" literally means "the stones." The sassi are actually cave homes that people have lived in since ancient times.  These homes were created by digging directly into rocks.  

It is widely believed that the sassi were the homes of some of the very first humans that settled in Italy and that the homes have been there since the Paleolithic Era.  People were still living in the sassi up until the 1950's when the Italian government made them leave due to unsanitary living conditions. Now, a lot of these homes have been restored and have been transformed into hotels like this one, pubs, and more modern, livable homes.  

When I visited Matera, I arrived in the middle of the day and was surprised to find that I didn't see any other tourists.  Maybe it's because I went in the middle of winter or because it was during their siesta time, but this destination just seemed so unique that I couldn't believe I didn't run into other travelers.  The sassi may look familiar to you because the movie The Passion of the Christ was filmed here.










While in Matera, I stopped by Chiesa del Purgatoria Nuovo, a church that was built in the late 1700's.  I couldn't go inside, but what struck me about the facade were the blatant symbols of death.  Apparently, this was a positive thing because dying meant that one was able to start over fresh.



Overall, it was a great day trip and while I had to get on a couple of different trains to get there, I'm sure glad that I did.  What are some places that you would like to visit that aren't super touristy?
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Neatly- Packaged said...

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The Rachael Way said...

So absolutely gorgeous!

Kiki said...

Beautiful pictures!

Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie said...

Thank you!

Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie said...

I'm glad I got a chance to go!

Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie said...

It was easy to take good pictures because the view was so incredible!

Melissa said...

Really wanna go and see Italy! Looks amazing!

Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie said...

It is! Usually most people travel to the north or to the central regions, but the south is not to be missed!

Anna Belle said...

I love Matera - I was actually just there for a day trip a few weeks ago too. That church is so distinct! (There's a really nice restaurant just up the street from there that we always go to, so the church is a familiar landmark.) You are right that it is not a tourist attraction (at least not for Americans)! Where were you staying that you were nearby?

Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie said...

Oh wow, cool!! I'm glad that you got a chance to visit. What other places did you get to go to in the south? I was in a town called Manfredonia in Puglia visiting a family I used to stay with. The south of Italy will always have a special place in my heart even though a lot of tourists skip over it compared to more popular regions like Tuscany.

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