10 Photos To Make Matera Your Next Must-See Destination

Matera in the Basilicata region of Italy has long been a mysterious location for travelers looking to get a bite of Italy's 9,000 year-old past —and a city dating back this far certainly comes with a fair amount of stories. Recently I had the chance to visit and was astounded by that first, incredulous look at Matera's beautiful skyline.The troglodytic abodes dug into limestone rocks were inhabited by locals in almost medieval circumstances until the 60's, when the Italian government took action and moved the local population outside of the city.This was also partly due to Carlo Levi's book, Christ Stopped at Eboli, which is based partly on the horrific and humid conditions.

It has since been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage site, since they represent “the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. The first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history."

Nowadays the city coined 'the second Bethlehem' has a renewed vigor, often the dramatic backdrop of movies such as Passion of The Christ, King David, the Ben Hur remake, and was named the 2019 capital of culture, beating out cities such as Lecce, Siena and Ravenna. Now visitors can take guided tours, stay in converted cave hotels that lend to its mysterious past, have a drink at a new age bar and visit the old homes of the former inhabitants, almost eerily preserved in time. Only an hour and thirty minutes (by train) from the Puglian city of Bari, Matera should be on everyone's travel list. 

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