Sunday, July 17, 2011

Matera's Sassi

Matera is in Basilicata in the Southern part of Italy. It is famous for its cave-town with houses built in the stone walls of rocky hills. These houses are called Sassi (stones). When you get on the spot is like being in the most classic nativity scene, and observing the beautiful Paleolitic age houses you realize their hut-like appearance adds to the fascination of this unique setting.

These houses are still inhabited, but have not always been famous. There was a time they were considered an infamous state of living symbol. The poorest people lived here, not even the faith in God had reached these places up to not long ago. Animals and people lived in these cave houses together. Up to the first half of the 20th century there was no sewage or other basic hygienic measures.
Finally the government relocated the people in new housing little far away.

Came 1993 and UNESCO declared them a world heritage site, increasing Matera's popularity in the world. Many houses are not standing the toll of time after abandonment, but many have been restored and transformed into homes, restaurants and hotels.

To have a splendid view of these stone cave houses visit the so-called Belvedere opposite the Sassi. Dusk is the best time to enjoy the sight, with the red sun melting the contours of the rocks and exalting the profile of the cathedral above the city. A first glance of this spectacle and you immediately imagine epic battles and scenes of ancient life.

Actually, there is a famous movie that was shot here. Do you know which one? The first three to to write the correct reply in the comments get a special mention!

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