Monday, 9 December 2013

Trip to Matera, Italy: Cave Homes of the Sassi people


One of the perks of having a blog, is that I can post all of those gaggilion photos I take on trips. While I promise not to post all gaggilion in one post, here is a small collection of photos from the beautiful southern Italian city of Matera that I think everyone should get a chance to see at some point in their lives.

Andy surprised me with a fantastic stay in this ancient city, and prior to staying in an actual cave dwelling turned hotel, I had never heard of the Sassi people of Matera.

I found this city to be simply magical and it is said to be from the 3rd century BC. The Sassi people lived in houses carved into the mountain, and many of these "houses" are really only caverns. The streets in some parts are often located on the rooftops of other houses.  The Sassi originate from a prehistoric settlement, and are suspected to be some of the first human settlements in Italy. In the 1950s, the government of Italy forcefully relocated most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city as it was considered an area of poverty. Current local administration, however, has become more tourism-oriented, and has promoted the re-generation of the Sassi with the aid of the European Union, the government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels being run by Sassi descendants.

Below are photos from the hotel we stayed at, called Hotel Sant'Angelo.  The hotel is the result of meticulous preservation of an area of more than 14,069 square feet that includes cave dwellings, pathways, stairways, and courtyards. Our view was just amazing, and it was a really cool experience to have a glimpse of live in a rocky habitat. It took some time to get used to a tub bath only, as there was no stand up shower. Other than that our stay at Hotel Sant'Angelo was wonderful.

Our views from our room's balcony:

The above photo is an example of newly renovated grotto homes, directly on top of derelict, boarded up homes. I was able to peer into the lower right grotto an found the following:
It's an abandoned cave house that was all locked up. I managed to find a crevice and using my flash, was able to capture this 1940's stove still inside! I felt like I'd found treasure when I took this photo. I love looking directly into the past, what a great way to time travel.

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