Visit A Lookout Point
The city is best seen from a high vantage point and aside from the spectacular views from Matera cathedral you can find numerous areas of the city that will reward you with breathtaking panoramas. Another favourite is the Convent of Saint Augustino where you can see some spectacular views of the city.
The Best Things To Do In Matera
Matera developed over the slopes of a steep mountain shaped like a natural amphitheater and is, as such, divided into three main parts.
At the top of the mountains lies the more modern part of town, the districts of Piano and Civita: beautiful and flat, this part of Matera has nice shops, palazzi, museums and some interesting churches.
Along the slopes of the mountain lie the real gem of Matera, the part of the town carved out of rock.
Part of the amphitheater is called Sasso Barisano and the other park Sasso Caveoso and they are divided by a road that meanders at the bottom of the valley: Via Fiorentini
All these parts have beautiful landmarks and things to see.
These are the best things to see and do in Matera.
Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita
Located by the Sassi di Matera UNESCO World Heritage Site, B& B La Corte offers guests a country aesthetic complemented by vaulted ceilings and views of the city center. These rooms are furnished with a flat-screen TV, an electric kettle, and a refrigerator. Meanwhile, the studio is additionally furnished with a lounge area, dining table, and kitchenette. Guests can enjoy a breakfast meal which is either served in their rooms or in the courtyard.
In terms of nearby places to visit, this Matera, Italy, hotel in a cave is only a 3-minute walk away from the Cathedral of Matera and a 10-minute walk away from the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture Matera and the Matera bus and train stations.
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Enjoy The Viewpoint From Convento Di Santagostino
Convento di SantAgostino is a former baroque monastery with many stone elements on display. Its completely free to visit, and a worthwhile trip for its historic significance. But the church itself is not the only reason to visit.
The view from the front of the building looks over the magnificent Sassi di Matera.
You can spend a few minutes outside of the church admiring the panoramic views before entering. Be sure to snap a few photos from this spot before continuing on your way.
The gorgeous view over Matera from the Convento di SantAgostino
Final Thoughts On Matera Italy Things To Do
Now that you know about all the incredible options for things to do in Matera, you can get going on this incredible holiday opportunity.
I took my mum and grandma there and they absolutely loved it. Its a unique place, that perfectly embodies many famous quotes about Italy and its charm.
I hope you have found my guide on the best things to do in Matera useful in planning your own Matera trip! If you have any questions about Matera, just let me know in the comments below!
So pack your bags for this Italy adventure. After all, not many people can say theyve been to the third oldest city in the world. So why not be one of them?
Looking for more Italy travel tips? Check out these guides:
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The ultimate Matera travel guide
Thursday 30th of September 2021
Now famed by the latest Bond movie, fancy going back to Matera? I’ll need an expert guide :-))LOVE THE BLOG btw x
Anthony V Palumbo
Thursday 26th of August 2021
My entire family lives in Matera. It’s the most amazing city to explore. I highly suggest a few days stay in the Sassi at Aque Cave https://www.aquecave.it/
20 Historical & Famous Landmarks In Italy Worth Visiting! jytreastore
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Logistics With Kids In Matera
The terrain is fairly hilly so little legs may get tired quickly. Plan stops during your time at cafes or nice viewpoints.
Matera is not stroller friendly, so bring a baby in a carrier.
Highchairs are available in many restaurants if you need one, be sure to call ahead.
Some hotels in Matera dont allow children.
As in many places in Italy, the city and accommodations arent child-proofed. Pay extra care to where your child walks as there are drop-offs, slippery steps, and other obstacles.
Frescoes Frescoes And More Frescoes
There are many churches to explore in Matera, most of which are Rupestrian churches. These churches have been built into the surrounding stone and are home to stunning frescoes, the most notable churches and convents include: Convento Di SantAgostino, Chiesa Rupestre di Santa Lucia Alle Malve, Chiesa di Santa Maria di Idris and San Giovannni, Convincio di SantAntonio and more.
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Dinner With A View At Osteria Materami
There are a number of restaurants dotted throughout Matera that sell amazing local food, however, I highly recommend dining on the terrace of Osteria MateraMi.
The restaurant offers up beautiful dishes paired with views of the Sassi. They have a range of local dishes and I highly recommend trying the local specialties such as Fave e Cicoria, a dish made with pureed fava beans and chicory.
The food at the restaurant was reasonably priced and along with the Fave e Cicoria, the pasta dishes were also to die for. I tried both a prawn pasta dish and an Italian sausage dish.
If possible aim to eat at the restaurant during golden hour or as the sun sets as the terrace is perfectly set to enjoy the grey of the buildings bathed in golden light to a pinkish hue as they reflect the setting sun behind you.
Address: Via DAddozio, 4, 75100 Matera
Budget Cave Hotels In Matera
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With traditionally dug cave rooms perfect for families, couples and solo travelers, Stone Rooms offer great value for their accommodation. The nightly rate already includes a sumptuous breakfast in a special room which will soon become a museum! Sometimes, the host will chat with you during breakfast. Past guests have noted that he and his staff are very generous, and they will surely give you the best hospitality like you can also find in luxury stays.
The rooms are actual caves, so expect it to be a little on the dark side. Some areas in the rooms have holes, which help in keeping it well-ventilated. It also allows natural lighting to go inside the rooms. The rooms are mostly furnished with modern Italian furnishings.
Bigger families can book interconnected rooms or a larger family room. A/C and heating also provide perfect climate control if needed, but often, the caves ventilate themselves well without any need for that!
Il Nespolo Matera
B& B La Corte
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B& b La Corte Dei Pastori
On our last 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.
Its 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.
The cave is cool inside but doesnt feel damp. Theres 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 our room and from their terrace.
I dont think weve ever eaten breakfast in a more scenic location, and the food is deliciousa big spread of focaccia, bread, jams, croissants, biscuits, yoghurt, fruit, juice, and coffee, far more than we could eat.
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- Church of San Giovanni Battista0.8 miles
- Church of San Pietro Barisano0.8 miles
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Thymus Residence Nei Sassi
Hotel Caveoso is in Matera Sassi UNESCO World Heritage site, a must book for its history and beautiful surroundings. This hotel is a historical structure that is excavated into the rock. This hotel in Matera is worth booking since you can choose between a room with a balcony or a room set in a grotto. Each room is complete with an air-conditioning unit, satellite LCD TV with Sky TV channels, and a private bathroom. Other features of the hotel include a conference room, coffee bar, and a large courtyard. Youll surely fall in love with its stylish interior, elegant pieces of furniture, and lovely decor.
Head Back In Time At Casa Grotta Di Vico Solitario
Located in Sasso Caveoso, the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario is a typically furnished cave dwelling where you can see how people lived in these caves in the 18th century.
Its touristy and gets crowded with tour groups, but its still worth seeing for an insight into life in the sassi.
The entire family including animals like mules, chickens, and pigs lived together in the cave. You can see the typical furnishings, tools and other artefacts of the time.
Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario is open every day from 9.30am to 8pm. Entrance is 3.
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Reccommended Area: Sassi Di Matera
The monumental area of the Sassi di Matera is the heart of this historic city and the best area to stay in Matera.
This area groups two districts that house most of the attractions that are worth seeing in Matera.
Among the things to see in Materas Old Town, youll find the Cathedral of Matera and its Sassi, the famous houses built in stone caves that star in most of the photographs of the city.
Staying in the monumental area of the Sassi di Matera allows you to know the most authentic side of the city and surround yourself with history. Walking through its particular network of alleys is a unique experience since youll often have to walk over or under inhabited buildings and dwellings.
Therefore, sleeping in this area of Matera is ideal to wander and dive into the citys past.
This area houses all types of accommodation, including many charming hotels, luxury hotels, B& B and apartments.
Among the cultural attractions found in the Old Town are the Domenico Ridola National Archaeological Museum and the Castello di Tramontano, where concerts, theatre performances and events are held constantly.
As in most cities in Italy, in Matera City Centre, you can taste excellent pizzas, pasta and other typical dishes.
The Old Town is the best area to stay in Matera for its perfect location, cultural options and variety of hotels.
What makes this the best area to stay in Matera
- Heart of the city
How To Get To Matera
Matera by air: Fly into Baris main airport and from there you can find an airport shuttle that takes you directly to Matera, prices start from only 3.
Matera by bus: There are various services connecting major cities with Matera, from Rome, Pisa, Siena or Florence there are services running with the Marozzi and Liscio buses. Matera is also connected to Bologna and Petruzzi bus lines runs a regular service. From Milan, Bologna, Naples and Ancona you can take Marino Buses. All the various bus companies have differing prices for their services and its best to use a free booking app such as GO EURO where you can find the best prices for travelling from one city to another.
Matera by train: The most convenient way to get to Matera is to take the train from the city of Bari, the journey is very fast and cheap, costing only 5 for the hour and a half journey.
Matera by car: You can fly to Naples and drive to Matera, a four-hour drive from the city. There are car rental places at Naples airport.
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Visit Materas Unique Churches
Santa Maria de Idris Incredible to see from the outside, but choose to explore the more interesting insides of the other churches.
San Pietro Barisano The 12th century churchs decorations were stolen in the 60s and 70s and now has an eerie vibe. You can see small catacombs underground. The view from the church is spectacular.
San Pietro e Paolo al Caveoso Dramatic setting on the edge of the ravine. Go inside to see the painted ceilings.
Chiesa del Purgatorio Not a rock church, but worth visiting to see where people prayed for those in purgatory. Can you find the skulls?
Santa Lucia alle Malve See the tombs on the roof of the church
Visit The Duomo Of Matera
Matera Cathedral is in view from just about everywhere in the city. So its only natural that youll want to pay the structure a visit.
The impressive building was completed in 1270, and has intricate artwork carved into its sides. The artwork speaks of morality, and warns its viewers against being led astray.
The cathedral is free to visit, and the interior is covered in frescos, artwork and paintings on its ceilings. The original altars have been preserved, and you can appreciate intricate marble work throughout the cathedral.
You can also enjoy stunning views outside of the cathedral. Its definitely worth pausing for a couple of moments to take in the breathtaking views and snap a few pictures.
The Duomo of Matera
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Where To Stay In Matera Italy
In an ancient city of stone and caves, what was old is new again.
The stone dwellings of Sasso Barisano.Credit…Federico Ciamei
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One look at Matera, in Italys deep south, and youll wonder why the historic Puglian towns of Ostuni and Lecce get all the attention. This city of pale gold limestone, just over the border from Puglia in Basilicata, has more layers than a sfogliatella pastry: Its two cave districts, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, are composed of individual dwellings carved into fossil-stuffed strata and stacked on top of each other like cells in a haphazardly constructed beehive. They were inhabited from prehistory until the 1950s, when overcrowded, poverty-stricken and disease-ridden they were evacuated by the state. Dubbed the shame of Italy, Matera remained largely abandoned for decades. In the 1990s, the Sassi became playgrounds for Materas errant youth.
What To Eat In Matera
- Senise peppers or peperoni cruschi Enjoy them in powder form used in meat dishes, soups, and sometimes cheese. Or, savor them fried whole as a crunchy snack.
- Caciocavallo cheese traditional cheese made from cow, sheep, or buffalo milk.
- Lucanica sausage pork sausage with fennel or chilli pepper
- Bread of Matera durum wheat and sourdough
- Rotonda eggplant gorgeous round, sweet red eggplant
- Crapiata soup with beans, lentils and potatoes
- Pignata lamb and potatoes
- Aglianico del Vulture wine or Matera DOC wine
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Visit The Chiesa Di Santa Maria Di Idris
Chiesa di Santa Maria di Idris is an old Catholic Church located in the Sassi.
Its also known as Madonna de Idris and is made out of, and carved into the rock. The church is built into a large limestone cliff in the upper portion of Sasso Caveoso.
The church itself isnt particularly amazing, but the when you first see it its without a doubt breathtaking. Seeing this church built into the cliff, standing out and tall above the Sassi is unique.
Not much of the original structure is left, which is thought to have been built in the 12th century, but the church still has incredibly old elements.
A Madonna and Child altar dates back to the 17th century. Theres a fresco above the altar that dates back to the 12th century. And plenty of other elements that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries can be found here.
Chiesa di Santa Maria di Idris in Matera
Matera Is Something Very Special On This Earth
Matera is something very special on this Earth! No desciription can describe emotions in situ. Just get there and enjoy old stone town Sassi, churches, restaurants, local tartuffo and Primitivo. Those keen for hiking, add a day to cross Torrente Gravina via Ponte Tibetano della Gravina to walk on opposite hillside. Indulge yourself in local restaurants serving local vines and pasta – and meat of course. Everything is in the walking distance. Perfect central Parking with delivery direct to the hotel.
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