Exploring Matera with Kids
When the new James Bond movie will be released in 2020, Matera will be on everyone’s mind. Located in the Basilicata region, Matera was almost unheard of even 20 years ago, despite the fact that it has been continually inhabited for more than 7000 years!
We were travelling to the seaside in Puglia and stopped in Matera for the night to appreciate its ancient history and mesmerizing views. Matera is similar to Venice – no matter where you look, the views are breathtaking and you constantly want to get your camera and snap, snap, snap.
Matera is one of the oldest inhabited places on Earth, so trying to crack its stories on your own is no mean feat. Enlist the help of the professionals from Sassi Tour and you will see the best viewpoints and have a good understanding of the city’s past and the future.
We arrived on Saturday evening and had a chance to have a quick walk before dinner. On Sunday morning we met with Nico , our guide and founder of Sassi Tour, and we told him what we have already seen. Nico was very happy to take us on an alternative route, so we see more of this magical place. Nico is a qualified archeologist and a local, which means he knows Matera inside out and can adjust the tour content to your liking.
I loved that Nico can talk about the history of Matera at any given time point, but he is just as happy to share his views on Matera’s not so distant past, when majority of cave houses were abandoned, and its residents were relocated to modern housing estates. Last but not least, you get plenty of gossip about the making of the new James Bond movie too!
We started the tour at 9am and finished just short of noon, which gave us plenty of time to get everywhere without the help of the buggy. There was also plenty of opportunities for pictures and little breaks, as my son can’t walk too fast yet.
If you are exploring Matera with a toddler, like we did, leave your pushchair in the hotel. There are a lot of stairs , so you will be carrying the buggy more than you will be pushing it. Get plenty of water and snacks to bribe your little walkers to get to the next viewpoint, church or a hidden courtyard.
Matera was awarded the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2019 and it was also named first Unesco site in the south of Italy in 1993.
Whether you like to explore new places via museums or by walking around, Matera has plenty to offer for both options. In fact, if you want to give it justice, two days is extremely little time to try and get to know Matera better. If your itinerary allows, definitely dedicate some quality time for your encounter – I promise, you will not regret.
As part of the tour you will be able to visit some of the cave churches and a cave house (“Casa Grotto”), where people used to live up until 1960s. The house is done as if someone just left the door open and you are able to see complete reconstruction of the family life.
I was shocked to discover that animals used to live in the same space as humans. Imagine taking your horse for a walk, but she needs to pass your living room before reaching the door! As you can imagine, space in a sassi was at premium and every centimetre was cleverly used.
We also visited cave church Santa Lucia Alle Malve and Nico was helpful in explaining different symbols and history of the frescoes. Before wide availability of books, all religious stories were represented on church walls. It is difficult trying to decipher a variety of symbols and relevant Saints without an input from someone knowledgeable, like Nico.
Nowdays old city of Matera is a desirable place to live for artists, musicians and designers , which means there is always something going on – exhibitions, concerts, or installations. Nico was great at recommending places to see , when we have free time, so we ventured to one of the viewpoints after our tour to make lots of pictures.
If you are thinking of booking the same tour, explore Sassi Tour website and you will be able to choose from several options or customise your own experience the way you like. When we visited some of the tour options were not available due to Covid restrictions, but I am hoping that soon there wont be many restrictions.
Naturally, I was very interested in a food tour in Matera, but Covid had other plans. Maybe, you will be more lucky and will share what delicacies you have managed to try.
At the end of the tour, you will get your own little vintage souvenir from your guide. I will not reveal what it is to keep the element of surprise, but it is super personal and unexpected.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Sassi Tour, but all opinions are my own.