Matera – the European Capital of Culture 2019
A city of Matera or Sassi di Matera is the chief town of the Basilicata region, which borders with Puglia. Only 63 km away from Bari.
January 19th Matera adopts a status of not just of a European Capital of Culture 2019, but a status of being recognized both by the Italians and the whole world. Keep reading to know why.
What Matera can boast of?
- The 6th UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy – unique architecture.
- Is called the second Bethlehem.
- Particularly renowned for being a main place for “The Passion of the Christ” filming with Mel Gibson, which was released in 2004. By the way, the shooting took place entirely in Italy: the outside scenes were completely done in Matera and in the ghost town of Craco near Matera, and inside scenes in Cinecittà in Rome.
This was the moment when the world heard about Matera.
And now in 2019 celebrities again come here to shoot “007”! Oh yes, Daniel Craig is coming first to Matera and then to Gravina in Puglia. The filming will be around the most suggestive places like piazza Duomo, piazza del Sedile, via Ridola and piazza San Francesco. It will continue from August 18th till September 23rd and the title is “Shatterhand”.
But why Matera was a shame of Italy till the mid. of XX century?
At the beginning of the XX century, Matera was the “shame of Italy”. There was sheer poverty and insanitary conditions. A storm of reactions and attention was caused by the novel written by the Italian writer Carlo Levy 1945 “Christ stopped in Eboli” where the writer described all the dirt and begging in which people lived.
After that, in the 50s, the current government began to relocate residents to the new neighborhoods, created at that moment for the purpose to improve miserable situation.
Staying in the cutiest place “Ai Maestri”, during the breakfast, we talked to the owner of the hotel. Her name is Maddalena. She is a typical dark-hair Italian lady very polite and easy to talk to us.
We asked her about the hotel, how the building appeared in her hands. Maddalena told us that she bought the building around 10 years ago and did not know what to do with it. Previously, there were slums, local people were afraid to come to the neighbourhood, since the Sassi (historical part) was a gathering for drug addicts.
According to her words, it was the absolute opposite of today’s Matera. Slowly, these places were “cleaned up” .. “Thanks to Mel Gibson! He brought glory to the city”, was laughing Maddalena.
How to get to Matera?
The nearest airport is Bari. From Bari airport you can rent a car and it’ll take you 1 hour to get to Matera.
TO MATERA BY BUS
From Bari Airport you can check the official website AeroportidiPuglia, which has a booking system and a schedule. The examples of bus Bari-Mater is below. One-way ticket price is € 6.
TO MATERA BY TRAIN
Or you can take a train from Bari Airport to train station Bari Centrale. Check the schedule on Ferrovienordbarese. it. The way takes you 20 minutes. After that reach Piazza Aldo Moro: at that point, turn left to reach the F.A.L. (Ferrovie Appulo Lucane), from where several trains depart to reach the station of Matera Centrale in about 1h 40 minutes. The ticket price is around € 5.
From Lecce or Brindisi you can reach Matera using autolinee Miccolis.
Ticket LECCE – MATERA: € 24,00
TO MATERA FROM NAPLES
Naples Capodichino Airport is about 300 km from Matera. Therefore, once landed, you can take a bus or rent a car and visit not only Matera, but Puglia as well 🙂
How much time should you spend in Matera?
Matera is at least one-day trip. Or you arrive by car, or you arrive with an excursion, count you’ll spend there the whole day.
There are two historic neighborhood: Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. Notwithstanding they might seem small, but they are totally not. The distance between these to neighborhood is about 15 minutes walk.
If you want just to have a generic idea of Matera, listen to its history and visit the main sightseeings, a half day- 8 hours will be enough. But if you want to dive into the local atmosphere and see the most beautiful (according to my point of view) Matera, stay here for a night! You cannot imagine how suggestive and fantastic is Matera under the sunset light. For example, those dark-stone houses become twice mysterious than under the daylight.
Moreover, we found out several very cute pub an cae streets which are cozy during the winter time, but fantastic during the summer time with all the tables out. We also noticed that Matera has lots of beer pubs and breweries. Which is interesting for an Italian city.
In conclusion, for our weekend stay I’ve chosen a fantastic small hotel the historic center of Matera called “Ai Maestri Rooms & Cafe”. How it was and what you cannot miss in Matera, I’ll tell you in the next post.
Don’t forget to pin this post, I will know that it was useful 🙂