Friday, July 7
After living and working in the small village of Grottole in southern Italy for three weeks, we also wanted to spend some time at the nearest, larger city of Matera.
Matera is located 30 km from Grottole and has been quite well known in Europe since 2019, as it was named the European Capital of Culture that year. The city has around 60,000 inhabitants and has been very popular with tourists for several years because the city’s old town is pretty unique. The houses in the historic old town of Matera (called “Sassi”) are built in rocks. Whether private houses, churches, restaurants, hotels or clubs: all of these buildings are built into the rocks of the region and therefore have a very special charm. The city is also called cave city because of the impressive cave settlements.
But the caves here are not as rustic as they sound: in Matera you can easily stay in a luxurious hotel room in the middle of a rock-walled cave – with electricity, running water and everything you need. Or you can have dinner in one of the many cave restaurants. We visited various caves/rock houses during our stay in Matera and each time it was a very special experience!
Arguably the largest and deepest cave house we visited in Matera was the venue called “Casa Cava”. We attended a concert at Casa Cava and could hardly concentrate on the concert itself because the rooms around it were simply incredibly impressive. The Casa Cava cultural center is located entirely in a rock and consists of several rooms, almost a small maze, in the middle of the rock. As visitors to the event, we were able to walk around freely in the various rooms – in one of the rock rooms there was a small art exhibition, in another room there were sales tables and the cloakroom and in the large main room was the small stage on which the concert took place. There isn’t a single straight wall in the entire venue because everything was carved into the rock. Each room is therefore somewhat asymmetrical, sometimes has sloping walls and sometimes a huge boulder simply protrudes from the walls or ceiling. If you have the opportunity to visit Casa Cava, you should definitely do it just to see its unique rooms!
We stayed in a beautiful cave room in the Sassi Hotel – the first hotel ever to open in the historic old town in Matera. Not only was the room itself great, but especially the hotel’s large terrace, from which you have the best view over the entire old town and the cave settlements in the valley. You should visit Matera at least once in your life just because of this breathtaking view of the many small stone houses! Since part of the rock settlement is located in a small valley, there are many great viewpoints in the historic old town of Matera. So if you can’t get a room in the great Sassi Hotel, you’ll definitely find another hotel, restaurant or bar that also has a similarly great view of the city. My drawing in my sketchbook shows the best thing about the city of Matera: the beautiful view of the many small rock houses in the old town “Sassi di Matera”.