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Matera, a few hours south-east of Naples, is a historic town in southern Italy’s Basilicata region, built on the slopes of a rocky ravine and dominated by a warren of cave dwellings inhabited for at least 9,000 years. Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site, is split into two sections, the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso, and separated by a ridge crowned with the 13th-century Matera Cathedral. Visit the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, which includes over 150 churches and monasteries hewn out of pale limestone rock. They are decorated with frescos painted by Byzantine monks. Head to the town’s main square, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, with its eye-catching giant sculpture, Salvador Dali’s Space Elephant. On a guided tour of Palombaro Lungo, learn about this magnificent 16th-century subterranean manmade water cistern. Matera boasts several interesting museums, including the Archaeological Museum with its collection of 4th-5th century Greek vases, the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture. Matera’s rich culinary tradition is accentuated by its restaurants serving provincial specialties. Try the delicious cannolo materano, paired with excellent passito wine.

Highlights

  • UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Matera Cathedral
  • Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera
  • Palombaro Lungo
  • Wine & Food

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