Family Days Out
Local Festivals & Events
In many ways Matera embodies the history of much of Southern Italy. The area around Matera is rich in relics from its original prehistoric inhabitants with the city of Matera being founded by the Romans around the 3rd Century BC. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Matera "enjoyed" a tempestuous history as it was conquered, liberated and over-run by various states. But it has always had a rebellious edge - for example, Matera was the first Italian city to rise up against the German occupation in 1943. For much of the 20th century life in Matera was dominated by poverty and disease, as highlighted in Carlo Levi's memoir "Christ Stopped at Eboli". In 1952 things were so bad that the Italian government had to forcefully relocate some 20,000 inhabitants from the Sassi region of the town (dominated by cave dwellings and houses built into the rocks) which was declared uninhabitable.
However, in the late 1980s the area started to be renovated and in 1993 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, whilst many of the buildings remain uninhabitable, several have been converted back into shops, workshops, residences or boutique hotels / apartments. It is an absolutely incredible place to explore (be sure to wear good walking shoes!). We also recommend buying a ticket to visit the three Rupestrian churches in Matera to see their ancient frescoes and catacombs. Matera is the backdrop for many films / TV programmes and (together with Gravina in Puglia - about 20 minutes away and also well worth visiting) it was used as a location for the opening of the James Bond film "No Time To Die". The city has several fantastic restaurants - although we would recommend hunting for food just off the main tourist streets especially in the summer.