It is when exploring the Sasso Caveoso that one gets a feeling for how the city must have looked and felt, before the Sassi became chic, and began to turn into the tourist attraction they now are. This is the area that is still a bit crude and rundown. Many of the Sassi are still uninhabited. That is also what makes the area so fascinating!
At the top of the ravine, back in the more modern section of town, in the small garden next to the Palazzo della Provincia, you will find a bust of the Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli, who taught school in Matera from 1882 through 1884.
The Chiesa del Purgatorio, on Via Ridola, dates from 1725. The skeletons and skulls that decorate this church represent the souls trapped in purgatory.
We decided to pay a visit to the Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo, which is located in the Sasso Caveoso. This is a replica of a Sasso in old Matera, the way it used to be when entire families, and their animals, would live in crowded conditions, in a cave, without running water or electricity. There are a few of these reconstructed cave dwellings in the city, and I recommend that anyone, visiting Matera for the first time, explore one of them. They are basically the same, so one is enough! But, they are informative, and shed a light on what life must have been like for those who lived in the Sassi, years ago. The Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo visit takes the guest through five different sections. While you are inside, you are listening to a recording that describes the function of the room you are in, and what certain items that are displayed were for.
Because space was a commodity, and the cave was shared with the animals the family owned, items like cribs would be hung from the ceiling, near the bed, on which most of the family members would sleep together.
Castello Tramontano dates from 1501. The castle was built by Giovanni Carlo Tramontano, who was the Count of Matera. Unfortunately, the castle was never finished. The Count ran out of money, and tried to raise the funds to complete the structure by taxing the populace, who in turn revolted, assassinating him on December 29th, 1514.
To end our visit to Matera, we decided to have our last dinner there at Stano Ristorante, as this restaurant was the winner of a restaurant competition show that we enjoy watching on television, when we are in Italy: 4 Ristoranti, hosted by Alessandro Borghese. We had the house antipasto, which consisted of small servings of eight different plates, as well as plates of grilled meat and offal! It was delicious!
Next up: We head to the lovely city of Laterza!
As the places where we all live begin to open back up, let’s all practice a bit of patience and understanding. We want to get this right the first time, and not have to return to being isolated in our homes. So, until we are given the green light, even though the weather is better, and it may be beginning to feel like summer is in the air, let’s stay home, stay calm, and help the health care workers and scientists around the globe, in their efforts to rid our society of this terrible pandemic!
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!