I visited Matera the first time three years ago, as I spent the holidays on the Ionian coast of Basilicata.
I didn't realize, then, that the city was so close to Puglia; I have don it last year instead, when I reached Matera from Bari.
Bari is in fact the city with the nerest airport and most comfortable rail link to Matera, which is from there a bit more than an hour drive.
I also discovered, meanwhile, that the Basilicata region bagan independent in 1970 while until then Matera itself was part of the Puglia region.
The thrill of getting to Matera was tha same as meeting again a dear friend. I was in love at first sight in 2013 and the opportunity to return thanks to the project #365PugliaDays organized by Italica Tourism gave me excitement and emotion that few people can understand.
This time I had the privilege to look out from the opposite side of the "Sassi", the typical houses in Matera, from the Murgia, where you can go hiking, horseback riding and discovering the first Paleolithic churches.
From here the view is breathtaking; on the right tands Sasso Barisano [which takes its name from the fact that it is the first coming from Bari], easy to be spotted, the city center with the Civita where the Cathedral stands out, and the Sasso Caveoso, the left part of the city.
Stearing at it from this perspective, we can better understand the sentence of the writer Carlo Levi when, in Christ Stopped at Eboli, narrated "... Looking up I finally saw as an oblique wall, all Matera. It's really a beautiful, picturesque and impressive city... "
But Matera is not only to be admired from far, it worths living and visiting it, as a city that needs to be explored on foot through the streets of stones, including stairways and doors. Those doors sometimes still tell that this city, that slightly more than half century ago was mentioned as "Italy's shame", but that knew how to react to this gratuitous insult and soon will be the European Capital of Culture in 2019.
You cannot miss a visit to a Casa Grotta, to understand how the inhabitants lived here with all their belongings, without wasting nothing and protecting the animals owned as family members.
And it is entering a home or a shop which includes the conformation of these homes, which from the outside seem like normal buildings, that you can understand the work of man to dig the home and protect it.
The most impressive visit, however, was the one to Palombaro, the large cistern under Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which was discovered a few decades ago when it became necessary to repave the square. Here rainwater were used by the population, which collected it from the outside with buckets through special wells.
But the best time to visit Matera is December, during Christmas time. This year on the 3rd of December the seventh edition of the Living Nativity among the stones will start. This year the main theme is "Laudato Sii" (you are praised).
In the long weekend starting from December the 8th the event will be enriched by a spectacular animated path from Gruppo Storico Romano in the Sasso Barisano, and throughout the Christmas period, ending January the 8th 2017, the nativity will walk among the houses and through the streets in Sasso Caveoso.