Week 7 – Matera and more

  • No visitors this week so some beach days and then a road trip to Matera on Wednesday and Thursday. This is a highlight so far. The town has been inhabited for over 1000 years and is famous for the area know as the Sassi. This is an area of cave houses, cave hotels and even a cave church that was inhabited until the 1950’s by the very poor – it was said to be the poorest, most wretched place in Italy, and had an infant mortality rate of over 44%.
  • It was depopulated in the 1950’s and all but abandoned until the 1980’s when the city fathers recognised the historical significance and started to do something with the area. They have been so successful that in 2019 the Sassi is the European Cultural Capital, is now pulling some serious tourist traffic, but, (as yet), without selling it’s soul like Venice and Florence.
  • Every step is either up or down on rough cobblestones, so on a warm 30oC plus day it was draining but incredibly interesting and beautiful.
Matera from the piazza
The church is inside the rocks and has 11th century Byzantine frescoes on the walls
Our hotel room – the rock over the bath is dated 1830
Our “cave” hotel
The “Thermae” pool beneath the hotel is 29oC all year round
The Sassi from the belvedere mid afternoon
And then at night
The locals at the table next to us had “Bruce” the dog. When we explained that we had “Luigi” the cat at home in Australia it was hilarious
A typical cave house up until the 1950’s – note the donkey, (Il asino), and there would have been sheep and pigs as well – all in the same room as the peasants with their average 7 kids!!
It all clings to some step gorges
  • Last night we had a real thunderstorm right over us. We lost the power but today is now bright sunshine again. I went for a swim in Brindisi this morning and the storm had knocked out the traffic lights at a busy intersection – what a circus – the traffic in the intersection was a total free-for-all. I moved about 50cms at a time – it was just frightening – the Italians have no concept of queuing or road rules.
  • Adrienne spent the morning making apricot jam – the tree next to the veranda is full of ripe fruit and we need to get in before the landlord’s mother-in-law harvests the lot. She is over 90 but is in constant motion – he says just looking at her makes him tired.
  • We are having visitors tonight for dinner. I was sent to the Pescheria, (fish shop), in San Vito dei Normanni to get 4 whole fish, but they had to be of a certain size and then gutted. We have been there before so we know the owner does not speak any english, therefore I was sent with a note, (I resisted allowing Adrienne to pin it to my shirt …), but charades of “daytime-hasbeen-TV” standard ensued until I emerged with 4 fish that actually got the nod of approval from Adrienne.
  • Next week we are going to Crete for 5 days, so for the next few days we’ll work on our tans and fitness for the upcoming Camino de Santiago.



3 thoughts on “Week 7 – Matera and more”

  1. What an amazing week and so much history and culture. The cave hotel room, not sure if I could have stayed there a bit closed in for my liking. Fantastic photos. Enjoy your week away.

  2. How was the apricot Jam, did Adrienne go in hard with the apricots, looks like I am still with you in sprit.

  3. Hi Guys,

    We too have been a bit busy zipping around, I had not looked up your blog in a while, what a nice read ! You seem to be going full on “When in Rome” great to see! The pictures look beautiful and I can see you have the weather, we were across the Arctic Circle a couple of days ago, a somewhat different experience 😂 Anyway you two, thanks for the read, enjoy as many good things as you can find, all those years effectively and most efficiently moving grout around the place deserves a good period of rest and relaxation. And of course Adrienne deserves some sort of medal for keeping you all these years. 😂 Stay safe guys.

    Phil x

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