Located in the region of Basilicata in Southern Italy, Matera is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world.

The first people settled in Matera in the Palaeolithic period - approx 15,000BC!

It's truly remarkable cave dwellings are why thousands of people flock to this ancient city every year and you can still venture inside some of these houses to get a true feel of what it was like back when mammoths were still roaming around.

The dwellings were split into 2 neighbourhoods - called Sassi - and were carved in to the rock on top of each other. The descendants of the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines still live in some of these dwellings today, albeit slightly more modernised. In fact, until 1952, the poor of Matera were still living in these caves in extremely harsh conditions, with no running water or electricity, animals living in the same room as them ... With conditions such as Malaria rife amongst the community, the Italian government finally passed a law forcing the people out of these dwellings and into new quarters.

Mel Gibson chose to film the Passion of Christ (2004) in Matera because of it's ancient beauty.

The city is also famous for it's bread - so when you're eating in one of the cafes and restaurants there, expect to see a lot of sandwiches rather than pizza!

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Bologna, situated about halfway between Florence and Milan in Northern Italy is a haven for foodies. Aside from the fabulous architecture, churches and museums, it's considered the greatest food producing region in Italy - nick named "La Grassa" - The Fat One!

Take a seat in one of the many cafes and restaurants at the Piazza Maggiore and soak up the atmosphere along with a glass (or bottle!) of the fantastic wine from the Emilia-Romagna region and maybe some authentic Mortadella, Parmesan, Parma ham or if your wallet allows, some delicious Culatello - the most expensive cured ham, only made in the Northern part of Parma.

Visit the many food markets around to get a true taste of local life and the Mercato di Mezzo indoor market is a great place to grab a bite to eat of an evening from the stalls that sell their produce by day.

Want to step further into foodie heaven and take a cooking class or a guided tour? There are so many to choose from in Bologna, Amazing Italy Tours springs to mind for some great guided walks around the city, from watching true artisans making pasta to sampling cured meats and cheeses in Bologna's most ancient deli store...

If you'd rather just eat - try Mo Mortadella lab for a quick bite on the go from a hole in the wall style provider of the best filled ciabattas.

If you're after a special evening meal, then try Ristorante I Portici where you'll dine listening to some beautiful piano in this Michelin starred 18th century cafe chantant.

Hopefully these ideas have wet your appetite for a trip to Bologna but for a full itinerary or more in-depth advice and recommendations get in touch!

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