Matera

Detour from Rome

As of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, visiting Matera in southern Italy is like stepping through a time portal. Things are all at once fierce yet beautiful, a jagged city seemingly carved right out of the mountains. And while Matera is a sight to behold in itself, it is what lies underneath that is the real treasure. Beneath the towers and ancient stone structures is a network of cave dwellings known as the “Sassi di Mater” or “Stones of Matera”.

When visiting, be sure to take time away from the main sites of stone churches (Santa Lucia alle Malve and Chiesa di San Pietro Caveoso) to simply wander the streets. Above all else, make sure you spend at least one evening here, as the city lights up beautifully at night.

Getting there

Matera itself is a large and fairly modern city, with the old quarter of Sasso Caveoso being what is most photographed (and visited) by travellers. After flying into Rome, take a train to Bari, and then a train to Matera Centrale (1 hour 30 minutes, departing every 1-2 hours during the daytime.)