Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world. In this territory, there is evidence of human settlement dating back to the Palaeolithic era that is still intact today. It is an extraordinary page of history written by man and recounting more than 10,000 years of history. Belonging to the territory of Magna Grecia, it was at one time acolony of Rome. Numerous races conquered it: the Goths, the Lombards, the Saracens, the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins and the Aragons. In 1663, it became thecentre of the Regia Udienza, the actual court of Basilicata, and since 1927, it has been the capital of the province.
The recommended route is to follow the Montescaglioso road, over the valley of Bradano; here, one absolutely must visit the Ethnographic Museum,situated inside the convent of San Francesco, where artifacts of the ancient peasant life are conserved. Going back up the Bradano valley, we come upon the Park of the rupestrian Churches of Matera, where there are many Churches decorated with Byzantine frescoes. These churches were dug out of grottos by monks in hiding, hoping to escape the persecution of the icono clasts. The route crosses Matera, where a visit to the Sassi is a must. This area has been universally recognized as one of the most evocative places in Europe. Matera, "City of stones (cave dwellings)", was the first site in the world to be declared a "cultural landscape" by UNESCO, and is on the list of "World Heritage Sites." The city developed in an evocative atmosphere, made of rocky cliffs that over look a deep ravine. Going back along the coast, we come to Pisticci, one of the most notable archaeological areas:the diggings of Metaponto, with its roads, buildings, and constructions loaded with history. Another must see: the temple of Hera with its 15 Doric columns which was the sacred area dedicated to Apollo and the cavea.They were also called the subterranean cells of the Theatre, or Tavole Palatine, and were the main cult place in the sanctuary.
The importance of the artifacts preserved in the museums of Metaponto and Policoro is confirmed by the Archaeological Parks. At ancient Venusia, it is still possible to admire the Amphitheatre, the Thermal Baths and the so-called House of Horace in the present day historical centre of Venosa. In the Archaeological Park of Grumento, still existing today are the Theatre, a Domus with a mosaic, and one of the most ancient Roman amphitheatres in Italy.
A few kilometres from Matera, it is possible to reach the Belvedere or "Lookout" over the Sassi. Here one can experience the fascinating view, where it is possible to see the urban development that has taken place in the city over the centuries. All of the area of the Murgia materana makes up the Archaeological and Nature Park of the rupestrian churches or Chiese rupestri. There are numerous churches in Matera dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries, with the Baroque group emerging as the strongest. San Giovanni, San Domenico and the Duomo are the most ancient.
Finally, the last stop is Santeramo in Colle in Apuglia. It is just a short distance from the city of sassi, and is part of the park of the Alta Murgia. The origins of Santeramo lay deep in its distant Greek and Roman past. But the character of this perfect little municipality is at the end of this day, after 8 in the evening. Most of the many butcher shops that populate Santeramo do not close, but provide the opportunity to taste all the possible types of meat that this territory offers, grilled over hot coals, at no extra service charge. We recommend that you bring the wine from home or buy it on the way, because often these butcher shops have only meat on hand and nothing else. Therefore it is only right to bring a bottle of local red wine and a little bread from Matera in order to end the day with an unforgettable memory.