Formerly Italy’s city of shame, the southern outcrop of Matera is now reborn as a European capital of culture for 2019.
Matera rises up on both sides of a deep ravine, its houses carved out of pale limestone, one piled on top of the other, forming a dazzling beehive of humanity. Known as the ‘City of Stones’, Matera was one of Italy’s first settlements, said to be the third-oldest continually inhabited city in the world, and its layers reveal Palaeolithic, Gothic, Byzantine, Saracen, Norman and Aragonese civilisations, as well as a number of spectacular rupestrian churches from as early as the 8th century AD.
Yet for centuries, Matera was shunned by the rest of Italy — shamed by the abject poverty of its inhabitants, most of whom led a taxing agricultural existence, crowded into tiny cave-like dwellings with dozens of family members. In the 1950s, many of the residents were relocated to new housing developments outside the Sassi, or old part of the city, leaving the cave houses to fall further into ruin. Continue at Source: Where to eat, drink and stay in Matera