Winter Motorhome Trip To Italy travel blog

Al Fresco Dining

Matera Slums

The Slums

The Church In The Rock

Film Set Gateway


What a glorious sunny day, all day long. No rain until a light shower late in the evening. A lovely relaxing drive up nice wide roads, no narrow village streets or any agro with Ethel today. We drove up the coast road for about a hundred miles & then turned inland to head up into the hills to a town called Matera, famous for it's 'Sassi' or slums.

"The sasssi sprawl below the rim of a yawning ravine on the North side of the hill. Matera is said to be one of the world’s oldest towns, dating back to the Palaeolithic Age and inhabited continuously for around 7000 years. The simple natural grottoes that dotted the gorge were adapted to become homes, and an ingenious system of canals regulated the flow of water and sewage. By the 1950s more than half of Matera’s population lived in the sassi, typical caves sheltering families with an average of six children. In the late 1950s about 15,000 inhabitants were forcibly relocated to new government housing schemes. Although many buildings are crumbling and abandoned, others have been restored and transformed into cosy abodes, restaurants and swish cave-hotels and I n 1993 the sassi were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is now the leading tourist attraction in this area.

I picked a great camp site this time. Set up on the South side of the hill with lovely views down into the valley below. Lovely terraced areas with electricity & water at every pitch & the pitches nicely paved in stone. Good toilet block as well with showers. Situated in the grounds of a large restaurant & only about a mile from the historic centre of Matera.

After a picnic lunch sitting in the sunshine outside Elsie, our first al fresco meal of the trip, we trekked our way a mile or more up the very winding road on the South side of the hill to get to the old town on the North side. We spent the afternoon wandering around looking at the sights & searching for geocaches. It's a very interesting & remarkable place with lots of ups & downs via alleys & stairways. Whilst looking for a cache hidden up behind a very of church literally carved out of a big old rock standing up in the middle of one of the two 'sossas' I spotted a big old fake gateway being prepared down below for a film shoot. Apparently a couple of films have been set in Matera including a Mel Gibson film.

Once it began to get dark, about 5pm, we began to make our way back to the camp site on the other side of the hill. The trek in had been quite demanding so we were hoping to get a bus back instead of walking. Unfortunately we got some duff info on which bus to get ending up taking an hour long ride from one end of the town right round to the other end & back without passing anywhere near our camp site. In the end we got off back where we got on & trudged our way back up to the top of the hill & back down to our site. Bit like Jack & Jill really without the pail of water or the broken crown, thank goodness.

Mileage today - 131

Total Mileage to date - 2,981



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