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Situated in a deep ravine in Basilicata, Matera is known internationally for its 'Sassi' - ancient troglodyte caves cut into the limestone rock face, and used as dwellings and churches since the Palaeolithic era. Historically, this position made the town easy to defend but much more difficult to supply with water. Much of the town began to develop outside the canyon, and the Sassi was inhabited but largely ignored for centuries. By the early 20th century, many of the Sassi's inhabitants were living in appalling conditions, and the area was rife with disease.

Fortunately, the town cleaned this up, and set to restoring the ancient area. The project was a great success, and resulted in the town being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Over the last decade many of the Sassi have been adapted into fantastic houses, hotels and restaurants - making this truly unique area even more fascinating to discover. Another major attraction in the town is the collection of cave churches, carved out by monks and often decorated with Byzantine murals painted directly onto the rocks.

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1 result matching: Escorted Rail Tours to Matera

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Puglia & Basilicata
Save £100pp
3.9 stars(92 reviews)
12 days from
£2,495 pp
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  • DestinationItaly
  • Starts / EndsSt Pancras International / London Gatwick
  • AccommodationHotel
  • TransportRail, Coach
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Our customers love our Matera tours
Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast
4 stars
“The overall trip and experience was fantastic. Saw loads of amazing of things and places. Two points I would like to raise. Porterage of suitcases was very noticeable by its absence and lifts are not high on Italy's priority at railway stations on the whole. (I presume this had been part of our payment to you). Also the set meals were at best average only. To the extent that when 'bigged up' as being deficient in both quality and quantity. For example, the final meal in Monopoli where the choice was between seafood or meat as a main constituent, those who selected meat only saw two or three slices of dried cured local ham as part of a starter. Then saw no further meat in their meal whatsoever.
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