The Clayton's Travels travel blog

Campground in Matera. The tour guide is drumming up business.

Making friends with the camp dog

Sassi di Matera

Drainpipes and narrow street in the Sassi

The ancient city cistern in Matera

Sassi di Matera

This is the ancient city that has been filmed as Jerusalum

Looking across the Gravina di Matera, the river that carved the ravine,...


We arranged last night for pick-up for a tour of the Sassi with an English guide. However, it was his father who arrived and he spoke Italian, a little French and Japanese! So we were shown the sights with a non-stop commentary in animated Italian! One of the women in the group spoke English so she translated bits and pieces for us. For €30 we were taken to the old town in a minibus, then walked through the picturesque old streets.

The ancient town was built on one slope of the ravine created by a river that is now a small stream. Some of the houses incorporate caves dug out of the rock, houses are built on top of each other and some streets are built on the rooftops of houses. Because there are no springs in the rock, early dwellers built systems of rain water channels and cisterns. In the 1950s, the people of the Sassi were relocated to areas of the developing new city and until the late 1980s this was derelict area. Now with the aid of the EU and UNESCO some people have returned to live and start businesses. Because of the ancient and primitive scenery in and around the Sassi, it has been used by filmmakers as the setting for ancient Jerusalem and Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” was filmed here in 2004.

We were dropped back at camp around 12.30pm and spent the rest of the day relaxing. Although there is a breeze, we felt we had done enough walking in the heat today.



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