Stones of Matera History

Sassi di Matera

Matera presents itself to the visitor in two distinct ways, ancient and modern. The prehistoric Neolithic settlements, the urban core of Civita, the two Sassi di Matera, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, the historic center and the new city make this urban conglomerate the example of a perfect union between elements difficult to integrate with each other. Everything merges to form a soft and humane environment. These reasons, but not only, have led to the became the Sassi of Matera a World Heritage Site, and therefore matera is a city listed in UNESCO.

The Stones of Matera

The Stones of Matera are a city in the city to visit very carefully. The advice is to admire it in its entirety from the lookout of Murgia Timone. This is a rift that offers strong sensations. Emotions that go beyond any possible strict description. On the breathtaking scenery, in the center, dominates the high bell tower of the Cathedral and, all around, at the bottom, the ancient urban core of Civita. On the left is the Cave Sasso, with its characteristic cave houses and cave churches that gently integrate with the surrounding Murgic landscape, almost forming, with it, a natural continuum.
On the right, the Barisano Sasso with the Convent of St. Augustine, which, overlooking the gravina, visually and clearly concludes the ancient city.

Sassi di Matera - Tourist portal of the city of stones Guided tours

Sassi di Matera - Tourist portal of the city of stones Guided tours

Il Presente

Matera city of 60,000 inhabitants, has made culture and tradition its calling card. With its simplicity and charm it enchants its visitors. The streets of the Historical Centre, Via Ridola, Via del Corso, Via delle Beccherie, Via San Biagio, Via Duomo and its squares, Piazzetta Pascoli, Piazza Sedile, Piazza San Francesco Piazza Vittorio Veneto, are full of ancient churches, quaint clubs, local craft shops.

In this small reality, made of art and crafts of ancient memory and typical products, are offered to the visitor unique scenarios in the world. Numerous cultural activities and clubs that organize exhibitions and events throughout the year; The National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata, inside the Lanfranchi Palace, is also of great value; the National Museum Domenico Ridola that exhibits archaeological finds of the Paleolithic and Neolithic

The economy

Matera, which started as a predominantly agricultural company, has become an industrial area of considerable interest. Alongside more traditional sectors such as construction, metalworker, the upholstered cabinet has been heavily imposed with leading companies bringing sofas around the world. No less relevant, agri-food, especially organic production; the advanced tertiary and tourism, booming, thanks also to the particular morphology of the Lucan territory that has beautiful coastlines still untouched and natural parks. P

Cosa vedere a Matera

acked with many attractors, the old town offers a wide range of things to see. There are public and private museums and baroque churches beyond underground areas formerly used as wineries or for water collection.

The Stones of Matera are born as a necessary evolution of an urban space, that of Civita; small and ancient core perched on a rough high located near the gravitational stream is, literally, the scope of the made inaccessible to the karst basins on which will develop, in a differentiated way, the Caveoso and Barisano stones.

Discover all attractors

The Civita for its shape has been for a long time impregnable, especially during the various periods of siege. It was thus that with the barbaric invasions, following the collapse of the Roman Empire, he began to assume a strategic role that contributed to the consolidation of its urban structure. In fact, it turns into a real fiefdom, completely protected by walls of which the remains are still visible today.

The development of the Matera Sassi

At the time, the two side cones at La Civita located outside the wall were populated by small scattered settlements, the natural cavities of the rock lend themselves to be used as safe shelters to protect themselves from invasions of barbarian domination. This is how it was born, to the southeast of Civita, close to the side of the gravina that leads to Montescaglioso, the Caveoso Sasso.

This original form of settlement finds in the Middle Ages its maximum expression with the monastic communities that contributed to the birth of rock art visible in the architectures in the decorative elements of the churches. Larger than the Barisano Sasso, the Caveoso is less built and more characterized by adaptability interventions.

Sassi di Matera - Tourist portal of the city of stones Guided tours

THE Plan

The area of the old town overlooking the Sassi di Matera is called The Plan. Attractors include: the Church of St. Francis da Paola, Church of St. Dominic, Church of St. John the Baptist, the Church of Purgatory, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of St. Lucia and St. Agatha, the Church of St. Clare at the Castle Tramontano.

The most visited attractor is the Long Palombaro, an ancient testimony on how one could exploit the few resources of the past such as water in a rather arid place like the Murgia

In the Caveoso Rock

In the Caveoso Sasso are the Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo, the House cave of Vico Solitaire, The Cave House of the Neighborhood, Casa Cisterna, the rock complexes of the Convicinio of St. Anthony and St. Mary de Idris that includes the church of St. Johns in Monterrone, the rock church of Santa Barbara and the rock church of St. Lucia. Don't miss the Church of St. Peter Caveoso (also known as the Church of Saints Peter and Paul).

In the Barisano Sasso

In the Barisano Sasso we find an important museum dedicated to ancient crafts such as the Laboratory Museum of Peasant Civilization. Among the most important rock churches are the Church of St. Peter Barisano with the catacombs, and the rock complex of Madonna of Virtues and St. Nicholas of the Greeks.

Also present is the Casa Cava, a tuff quarry that has been transformed into an auditorium. Numerous artists from the national music and cultural scene perform here

La Civita

In the area of La Civita in addition to the Cathedral of Matera and you can visit the House of Ortega where you can admire many works of the Iberian artist. Also around the Cathedral is the Musma, an important private sculpture museum, and Casa Noha where you can discover the history of Matera through emotions.


Don't miss the Palomba Sculpture Park, the wwf oasis of San Giuliano but above all the Original Sin Crypt. The latter is one of the most important rock church in southern Italy, full of numerous frescoes.

Browse all sections of the Matera Sassi tourist portal to find out what the city offers you.

Come visitare i Sassi di Matera

Considering that the Sassi di Matera can be walked almost exclusively through alleys and ladders, it is advisable to use comfortable shoes and clothing. The Stones of Matera are two ancient wards so they have no entry fees like most 18th-century churches.

As for the attractors, such as cave churches and museums being run by cooperatives and associations, they need entrance fees.

The only way to get to know the history quickly and comprehensively the history of Matera and the Sassi is with a guided tour with authorized guides through the tours

Matera Stones

Matera Bread, Matera Sassi


The presence in the region of typical high-quality products is developing a food and wine tourism type. Expression of this reality are the many restaurants, clubs and trattorias. These propose traditional recipes; simple dishes, made with the genuine products of our land, as befitted a people of farmers devoted mainly to the cultivation of wheat, of which our hills are rich, legumes and olives.

Walking around the small shops of the city you can appreciate among the many typical products, Matera bread, baked Maian olives, dried tomatoes in oil, pecorini, manteche, acacia wines, acacia honey, lucanica (Varro – we call Lucanica a minced meat, stuffed in a gut, because our soldiers have learned how to prepare it from the Lucans) and whatever else you will be curious to taste.



Among the typical products bread Is undoubtedly the best known. Hard wheat flour compound is famous for its long shelf life. In fact, the natural yeasts and the thick outer crust allow the bread to keep inside a soft crumb even after several days of cooking. Cooking is done in stone ovens used exclusively by oak.

Wood-cooking gives the bread a scent and a fragrance that make it quite special. In the past, bread making was homemade. The housewife getting up early now kneaded the mass and then brought it to the baker for cooking. It used to be marked with the "bread stamp." This object was carved in wood and was different for each family, with which it was possible to locate their own piece of bread.

Dried tomatoes in oil

The production of preserves, intended for family needs, represents a strong moment of aggregation of the whole family, also marked the passage of the seasons. In July and August, tomato preserves were prepared, including dried tomatoes in oil. Harvested in the early hours of the morning, tomatoes were stretched out in the sun after being washed and cut in half to allow for faster drying. The dried tomatoes were then stored in olive oil in order to be enjoyed as a side dish in the winter months.

Raw peppers

Introduced in Europe around the 17th century, pepper immediately became a vegetable commonly used in Lucan cuisine for its extreme ductility. Ben goes with any kind of dish, great to enjoy with pasta, eggs, potatoes and other vegetables. Turning the crusk pepper (crunchy) is an art.
Skill and mastery are required in both phases.
In the drying phase in the sun: the peppers are tied to a wire through the pigeon so much as to form a "cult" that is hung in the open air;

cooking raw peppers

In the cooking phase: the peppers, should be detached from the "serta" and cleaned with a cloth (never washed in water), without breaking them should be deprived of the pigeon and seeds before dipping them in boiling oil, strictly olive; with the foam they should be turned in such a way as to make the cooking even, then quickly removed from the oil and lying on a sheet of paper towels. After a few minutes the pepper becomes crisp and ready to be served.

Raw peppers Sassi di Matera


Pastoral activity in Basilicata begins already in the Iron Age, as evidenced by the many tools. For the processing and storage of milk they used these tools found in areas of archaeological interest. An ancient tradition handed down from generation to generation with a wide range of dairy products such as the "caciocavallo". Of particular value is the podolic caciocavallo from the podolic cows that graze free on the Lucane heights producing a milk of high sensory qualities.

After only three months of seasoning it is ready to be enjoyed.
La Manteca is a typical dairy product with spun dough that contains a heart of butter, great to cost on bread croutons.
The ricotta cheese obtained from the mixture of goat's milk and sheep is hand-crafted and subjected to a natural seasoning. Salted dry, it is great to enjoy grated on fresh pasta topped with tomato sauce.

Cold cuts

The Lucan sausage "Lucanica" was already used by Roman troops for the ease of transport and preservation of the product. It is for this reason that Lucanica was a precious commodity. In the past it could be replaced with Roman sesterzi for the payment of duty. From the less noble parts of the pig, cut at knifepoint, then the "piece of food" is obtained.  this was a very tasty sausage because it is composed of meats that come from the pork entrails. The bese can also be used to flavor the sauce.


The wine tradition has its roots in the necropolis and notary dating back to the 7th century BC. they contained refined bronze vases for the preservation of wine. A long tradition that leads to conceive of some of the structures of the Sassi di Matera as cellars. This is demonstrated by the wine-making poles and the various conservation tanks on various levels. The lower ones, in fact, allowed a better temperature for the aging of the wine. Wine production was so high. In the 14th century the city obtained the privilege of not allowing the sale of wines other than those produced on site. In 1971 we have the recognition of a DOC, that of the Aglianico, already produced during the longobarda domination, from which it takes its name. It is characterized by the ruby red color with intense scents of fruity, with a robust character.

Olive oil

The olive crop in Basilicata dates back to the 6th century BC. archaeological finds found in the metapontino. Olive farming is certainly one of the most active agricultural sectors, with oil production. The quality of the oil is characterized by a low acidity and a pleasant fruity flavor. Essential ingredient of every typical Lucan recipe. It is very good to enjoy on slices of stale, stale maternal bread roasted over the fire. Among the different varieties of olives, the corn is of particular value also for the processing process with baking. Great to enjoy to accompany cheeses and cured meats.


You can also appreciate the goodness of spontaneous products such as cardoncelli mushrooms and wild asparagus that grow on the Murgia, Porcini and truffles of the most mountainous areas.