The 2019 Capital of Culture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, the city of Matera is perched on spectacular rocky grounds in the region of Basilicata, Southern Italy. Once known to be one of the most impoverished and desperate areas of Italy, Matera has enjoyed newfound popularity and love among tourists who come to appreciate the natural beauty and fascinating history of the region. One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, the ancient centre of the city is the incredible Sassi, made up of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Today, many of these caves in which locals used to live in dire conditions have been converted into boutique hotels and eateries. If you’re looking for a truly unique and destination in Europe, look no further than this magical city where time stands still. Our travel guide to Matera shows you the best hotels, best restaurants and best things to do while exploring the Southern Italian city.
One of the most amazing hotels in Italy, the Sextantio Le Grotte Delva Civita is a lodging formed of converted cave dwellings nestled in the ancient Sassi area. The 18 caves have been lovingly restored into beautifully rustic rooms that evoke the rich cultural heritage of this special region. From the warm candle light and natural fabrics to the handcrafted wooden furniture, the attention to detail that has gone into the restoration creates a stunningly romantic and intimate atmosphere from which to experience the Matera region. With simplicity at the heart of the hotel, don’t expect televisions or electrical appliances here – you won’t need them with the stunning scenery surrounding you. The hospitality team is friendly and professional and will ensure that you make the most of your stay with them. Be sure to wake up early enough to enjoy the breakfast served in the communal area, a refurbished rural church in the centre of the area.
Osteria Al Casale is one of the best places to eat in Matera, serving some of the most amazing food in the region. Located in a quiet street in the centre of town, the restaurant exudes a rustic atmosphere which fits in seamlessly with the culture and history of the town. Dine on the open terrace offering wonderful views of Matera that you can soak in and admire as you enjoy your meal. The diverse menu served here is focused on ‘cucina povera’ - provincial dishes that champion simple yet delicious dishes made from high-quality fresh produce. Start with the antipasti, indulge in the delicate truffle ravioli and treat yourself to the creamy tiramisu - this is true gastronomy heaven. The friendly staff here are on hand to answer any questions you may have and the chef will pop out to say hello and serve up some plates during the course of your meal.
The beauty of this city is best experienced travelling on foot. One of the best things to do in Matera is to join one of the walking tours which will take you to all of the key spots in the area. The Environmental Education Center of Matera organises a range of different hikes depending on what you’d like to see and how far you’d like to walk on your excursion. To see the most of the region without walking for an entire day, opt for the Great Trekking tour, a 4 hour and 15 minute walking journey taking you through the golden limestone labyrinth of the Sassi area and to historical highlights such as San Falcione, Our Lady of the Three Doors and Madonna della Croce.
Gastronomic Tour: Bread & Mozzarella: Bread and cheese may sound basic but on this fantastic gastronomy tour, you will get to taste some of the freshest and tastiest local product in the region.
Candlelight dinner in the XII Century Rock Hewn Church: An absolute must for couples visiting Matera, this is a romantic candle-lit dinner in a deconsecrated churched carved out of a rock.