Piazza San Francesco

Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
6 travelers at this place
  • Day12

    Die Sassi in Matera

    June 23, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Wir haben Apulien nun endgültig verlassen und sind in der gebirgigen Basilikata gelandet. Während Apulien den Absatz des italienischen Stiefels bildet, liegt die Basilikata etwa am Knöchel des Fußes.
    Matera liegt oberhalb einer Schlucht. Auch hier waren es orthodoxe Mönche aus Kleinasien, die die Höhlen aus dem Tuffstein gegraben haben. Eigentlich ist es kein echter Tuff (der wäre ja vulkanischen Ursprungs), sondern ein Kalkstein/Sandstein-Gemisch. Die ältesten Kirchen sollen aus dem 6. Jahrhundert stammen, die meisten aus dem 10. Jahrhundert. Als die Normannen die Region besiedelten, wurden auch Bauern und Handwerker ansässig, die sich in den Schluchten unterhalb des Ortes ihre Wohnhöhlen, die Sassi, gruben. In den 195er Jahren wurden die noch in den Sassi unter katastrophalen Bedingungen lebenden Menschen zwangsweise abgesiedelt. Wie die Lebensumstände zu dieser Zeit in Süditalien waren, ist unter anderem im Roman “Christus kam nur bis Eboli“ zu lesen. Die Sassi begannen zu verfallen. Es bildeten sich Initiativen zur Erhaltung der Sassi. Ab 1986 betrieb der Staat ein aktives Programm zur Wiederbesiedelung, seit 1993 zählen die Sassi zum Weltkulturerbe. Heute finden sich zahlreiche Läden und Unterkünfte in den Höhlen.
    Wir überlegen, ob wir uns einer Führung anschließen sollen, entscheiden uns dann doch dagegen, weil uns die Tourismusinfo mit tollen Unterlagen (Stadtführer, Plan) ausstattet. Eine sehr gute Entscheidung, wir lassen uns im eigenen Tempo treiben und besuchen einige der Höhlen. Beeindruckend ist auch die ehemalige städtische Wasserversorgung. Riesige Zisternen, die im 16. Jahrhundert von Hand in den weichen Stein gegraben worden waren und sowohl durch Quell- als auch Regenwasser gespeist wurden. Von oben konnten durch Einlässe im Boden mit Kübeln das Wasser entnommen werden. Die Zisterne Palombaro Lungo, die wir besuchen war bis zum Ende der 1930er Jahre in Verwendung und in Zuge der Renovierung des darüberliegenden Platzes in den 90er Jahren geöffnet und zugänglich gemacht wurde.
    Read more

    Susanne Heissenberger

    Ich kann nur erahnen, was „katastrophale Bedingungen“ heißt... Feuchte Wände, keine Wasserversorgung, kein Kanal, viele Leute auf wenig Raum. Zu welchem Zweck werden diese Höhlen dann erhalten? Nur aus historischen Gründen oder gibt es heute eine Nutzung?

  • Day54


    May 31, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    This place.. is such a beauty. Our rough guide (thanks Richard and Nia!) describes it as one of the south's most fascinating cities. It is where Mel Gibson filmed the Passion of the Christ and you can see why it was such a fitting setting. We both wish we could have more time here as one day is definitely not enough to appreciate it all. The apartment that we are staying in is also quite a luxury! There is a four poster bed and a fab shower. Good old Airbnb! When we arrived the hostess showed us exactly where to head to and where to eat.

    According to the local leaflet, Matera is one of the oldest towns in the world, dating back around 7,000 years.. Matera has two 'Sassi', which are two districts made up of two sets of dwellings. The original cave dwellings date back to the early 18th century, the "Sasso Caveoso" and were lived in by "peasants". We visited one of these cave dwellings which were really pretty cool, also literally pretty cool as it was super warm here today.

    After WWII they moved the people into newly built dwellings which are in the second "Sasso Barisano". These were built in a sympathetic style and the overall effect looks amazing.

    Tonight we ate some regional food in a cave restaurant and it was really good and of course really filling. Luckily the lady here stocked up with tea bags, so just chilling with a cuppa, you can take the girl out of Guernsey...

    Matera is another UNESCO world heritage site so currently feeling very cultured ;D Off to Bari and the overnight ferry to Dubrovnik tomorrow, will catch up next from Croatia x
    Read more

    Helen Price

    How much luggage could you fit into there you two!!

    Anne Setters

    That looks amazing. Italy was worth the visit just for Matera xx

    Our Year Off

    I think the pictures don't do it justice at all, we would love to come back in the future x

    Jennifer Langlois

    What a special place xx

  • Day56


    January 7, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Magical Matera

    None of us want to write this post for Matera as not one of us can think of words to string together to give an idea of what is Matera. Words escaped us when we walked out of our accommodation, turned left for 8 steps, and were faced with old Matera rising before us. We gasped, we exclaimed, and we sighed. It was like being transported back to biblical times. Indeed, Matera has been continuously occupied by humans for over 9000 years, making it the second oldest, after another in Jordan. Looking around us, it is no wonder that Matera was used in the set of many films like Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ and the latest Wonder Woman movie. We had a look at the scenes from those films, and that is exactly as we see Matera.

    I am referring to the sassi, literally meaning stones, the old district of Matera that is a series of caves carved into one side of a deep gorge. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, these caves have been adapted, redug, extended and built over, through millennia. After the Middle Ages, they were only used for animals, olive oil press and storage. It was lived in again by impoverished peasants who were forced out of their land by a failed feudal system. Living conditions were so deplorable as families of up to 11 lived together with livestock in a small damp airless cave room. In the 1950s, infant mortality on the Sassi was over 44%. Carlo Levi described it as the Inferno of Dante's Divine Comedy. Embarrassed by publicity of this plight, the Italian government relocated the population of the sassi in the 1950s. Abandoned, the sassi then fell into greater disrepair. It is now in the process of being restored and revived, even gentrified, especially after being named cultural capital of Europe for 2019.

    It was Epiphany yesterday, and the centre of the new town was thronging with tourists from other Italy. Some made their way to the sassi, but kept mainly to the few landmark Rupestrian churches and cave museums. We tried to explore further into Sassi Caveoso, the older uninhabited sassi, but much is inaccessible or blocked off.

    Standing at the many lookouts, is to stare at time, past, present and future, all at once. One can see across the gorge to Parco Murgia and it's many ancient caves. It is what the sassi would have started as all those 9000 years ago. On our side of the gorge, there is still much evidence of the old squalid caves before the government evacuation, and the promise of what will be a thriving tourist centre, especially after 2019. We can even see a building crane, most out of place amidst this ancient scene. Abandoned dingy caves neighbour renovated ones of glitzy restaurants, bed and breakfast accommodations, and souvenir shops. We will be so happy for Matera to prosper after it's tough history, and feel extremely privileged to experience it as it is now, the undiscovered gem that is magical Matera.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Piazza San Francesco