Sunday, March 1, 2015

Matera rocks!!

When we first started to look for places to go to in this trip Matera was almost never mentioned, mainly because it is not part of the Puglia region. But here and there I saw mentions of this place and there was one blog post that was so enthusiastic about it that I got curious. Apparently the city was home for the first settlers in Italy than inhabited the Sassis. Houses on the rocks, either natural or, later on, man-made! For what we've heard, even the houses that exist today were excavated on the rock, and the stones removed from the ground were used in the construction of that same house! Isn't all this worthwhile?!

After Bari, and with a rented car, we drove to Matera, the city of the Sassi (or rocks, in English)! The weather was not great and it was cold! When we were entering the city in direction to the bread&breakfast we had booked the previous night, we did not get very excited! It looked like any other city, with only a few rocks near the entrance! The landscape before it was of an amazing green but we couldn't even see it from the city!

When we finally got installed and were ready to head out the night was already falling over the city! For a small moment, with the little enthusiasm I felt, with the rain and cold and the few light remaining, I felt like staying inside! But when we got to the first view point, I understood the reason for all the fuss. The old part of the city is beautiful and with some houses emerging from the rocks, quite unique as well.

Our first view over the old town and the Sassi

Matera, emerging from the rocks
Once again the streets were narrow and maze-like. And once again we just walked around not caring much about where we were going. A lot of ups and downs later we got to the top of one of the hills where we could see all the houses on the opposite slope. It was amazing, and I could not resist to take a few additional photos:

That was it! I haven't even seen it in the day light and I already loved that place!!
After walking around a bit more we got out of the old city but we were not sure exactly where we were. The map did not help much as there were dozens of narrow streets to look at. A man passed by and we asked him where we were on the map! But this was not simple at all. Our Italian is not the greatest of all ("yo no capisco"- was used numerous times during the trip) and the man's English was even worse (but apparently his daughter can speak English quite well, too bad she wasn't there! :p). With this, asking a simple "Where are we?" pointing to a map proved to be quite challenging. On top of that, when we were finally able to communicate, he took a while to locate us on our map! But he was so nice that he did not quit and only when we were able to understand, approximately, our location, he stopped looking at the map with a big smile on his face! "Grazie mile" was our response (another expression used quite often on these days!

We stopped to eat something in another great, delicious and cheap cafeteria and headed back home going through the most touristic part of the city. Full of shops and restaurants that got our stomachs' attention.

The next day, under a cloudy sky, the Sassi of the old town remained as impressive as the previous night. And the views over the canyon were kind of spectacular.
On top of that, Matera had another surprise waiting for us. But that is material for another post. Now, I'll just leave with some other photos of this "oh so worth it" place!

Up and down, down and up!
A house or a rock?

Can you see the building with the red strip on top! That's where we stayed that nigh!
Andre could not resist! :)

The next post explains what all those trucks are about! :)
As beautiful by day as it was on we saw it for the first time at night - part 1 
As beautiful by day as it was on we saw it for the first time at night - part 2 
The headless statue!

Can you find the skulls! That's plural!
We were there! (Andre)
We were there! (me)

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