Matera - European Capital of Culture 2019

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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