More and more people are discovering Matera each year, or so it seems. I recommend it to everyone who I talk to, when they express interest in visiting the south of Italy. But, honestly, this is not the place to just stop by for an hour or two. One should spend at least a few days here, in order to really get a feel for this unique and beautiful city.
The Chiesa di San Biagio can be found on Via San Biagio, and dates from 1642. Most likely, you will have to be content with admiring the church from the outside, as it remains closed all year long, opening only for the festival held on February 3rd, in honor of the saint’s day. The two statues in the niches on the facade of the church are of Saint Agatha, and Saint Lucia.
More or less located in the center of the modern section of the city, in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the Palazzo del Governo, otherwise known as the Palazzo della Prefettura, was actually the Convento di San Domenico, at the time of its construction, in 1230.
Next to the palazzo, you will find the Chiesa di San Domenico, which also dates from the 13th century.
Even if the Sassi are the reason that most people visit Matera, once there, they will inevitably pass through Piazza Vittorio Veneto. From this square, one can easily reach either of the two Sassi, as well as the main streets of the modern town. Lined with cafés and shops, as well as the town hall and movie theaters, it is a lively spot, especially in the evenings, when all of the locals make their daily passeggiata, or evening stroll. One of the sights I love in the piazza is the statue of “Il Pensatore,” or “The Thinker,” which was donated to the city by the local chapter of the Lions Club, in 1996.
Originally located near the city’s castle, the Fontana Ferdinandea dates from 1832. It was moved into the piazza, where we see it today, in 2009.
The Chiesa di Santa Lucia e Sant’Agata alla Fontana, is located right next to the fountain, on Via del Corso. The building dates from 1700.
Via del Corso is one of the main shopping streets in the city. Most of the street is pedestrian only, meaning no vehicles, and it is lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops, as well as a few museums.
At the end of the road, one will find the Palazzo Lanfranchi, which is home to the Museum of Modern Art of Basilicata. Tickets to this museum cost €2.00 per person, and I highly recommend spending an hour or so here.
The palazzo was built between 1668 and 1672, for use as a seminary. The building later became a school, before being turned into the museum that we enjoy today.
Next up: We explore the Cathedral of Matera, and much more!
We hope everyone has a safe and happy Passover and Easter! Even though we may all be more or less housebound at this point in history, this too will pass! For now, we need to remember that we are all in this together, whether we are sitting in a living room in Rome, New York, Madrid, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, or anywhere else in the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who are suffering with this terrible disease. Let us all do our part to stop the spread, by staying indoors, remaining calm, and keeping hope alive!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Matera, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!