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Best things to do in Matera

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Italy  /  Basilicata  /  Province of Matera  /  Matera

Top 15 things to do in Matera

1. Sassi di Matera

Witness some of the first human settlements known in Italy at Sassi di Matera. Making up the ancient village of Matera, the series of prehistoric, cavern-carved stone structures seem similar to Jerusalem or Cappadocia. Take a tour of an ancient cave house, or visit one of the town's seven Benedictine settlements. The 16th-century Rocky Church of the Holy Spirit sits atop the highest point in the town. You can walk the limestone cliffs surrounding the village for a view of the stone city, which is a World Heritage Site. You'll also see many of the sites used in Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ."
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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3. MOOM Matera Olive Oil Museum

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario

Take a look inside a Sassi cave dwelling at Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario. Use a guided audio tour to learn about what life was like inside a peasant dwelling. The home is complete with furniture and tools of the era, as well as a room for livestock. Used until 1959, when families living in the caves were transferred by government order to modern homes, the cave house includes four stories with steep narrow stairs, which were lived in by a family of 11 and their livestock. A black-and-white film offers a closer examination of what life was like here during the 1950s.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Grotte di Castellana, Castellana Grotte

Explore underground Italy with a visit to Grotte di Castellana, a cave system of inestimable importance for the world’s natural heritage. These limestone caves, discovered in 1938, are the country’s longest natural subterranean network of passages. The caves teem with a huge variety of native wildlife, and contain an extraordinary range of underground landscapes, with some of the world’s most astonishing stalactite and stalagmite formations. Inside these caverns, natural light streams in through the ceiling, filtering down into the darkness and creating curious visual effects, which change according to the time of day and the season. Don’t miss the so-called "White Cave," which is often described as the most shining cave in the world because of the whiteness of its alabaster walls. Guided tours are available daily, but be sure to check the official website for exact times before you make the trip.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Castello Aragonese, Taranto

The castle Castello Aragonese dominates the center of the craggy island of Ischia. Walk through a tunnel or take an elevator to the entrance. The sturdy walls here once protected the island's small population from pirate raids. However, Hiero I of Syracuse built it in 474 BCE long before the threat of pirates. Inside the tunnel is a chapel dedicated to St. John Joseph of the Cross, the island's patron saint. Walk or take a public bus to access the island via a stone bridge built by Alfonso V.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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9. Casa Noha

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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10. I Trulli di Alberobello - World Heritage Site, Alberobello

One of Italy's best-preserved medieval settlements, I Trulli di Alberobello - World Heritage Site is a World Heritage site. Nestled in the Puglia countryside, the town is known for its rows of white, cone-shaped stone houses known as trulli. These now host craft shops, restaurants, and accommodations. Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets, and peer into the small dry-stone huts to admire the vernacular architecture. Walk up to the main church on the hillside for a view of the fairytale-like village. The town is well-known for its pastries and sweets, so consider a stop at a bakery.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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12. Cripta del Peccato Originale

Visit the ninth-century frescoes of the artist known as the “Painter of Flowers of Matera” at Cripta del Peccato Originale. Lying among southern Italy's vineyards and wheat fields, this rock wall cavity is known as the “Sistine Chapel of Rock Art,” and contains some of the oldest rupestrian art of the region. The frescoes, interpreting Old and New Testament stories, have recently been restored to their original glory.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Castel del Monte, Andria

Protected as a World Heritage site, the image of Castel del Monte appears on the Italian version of the one-cent euro coin. When the castle was built in the 13th century, the fertile region would have made a comfortable lodge for emperors. However, the structure was most likely used as a citadel. The interior has been looted and vandalized, and some of the marble columns and other features ended up in the Bourbon family's royal houses. You can visit the wineries in the wine country around the castle, which produces limited-production barrels of Riserva.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Cattedrale di Matera

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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