Until the late 1980s the Sassi was considered an area of poverty, since its dwellings were, and in most cases still are, uninhabitable. The present local administration, however, has become more tourism-oriented, and it has promoted the regeneration of the Sassi with the aid of the Italian government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels there.
Matera for years was poverty-ridden, but then tourists discovered the town. There are endless scenes as you wonder the alleys and stairways of the old town. Being a slight addict to old doors… Materia was heaven.
Matera dates back to the palaeolithic era. In the 7th Century, grottos were taken over by monasteries.In the 16th and 17th century ownership of the town changed hands many times and a city was built on the slopes of the gully. Now, it is a maze of buildings which appear to be build upon each other. UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the “Sassi di Matera” (meaning “stones of Matera”). The Sassi originated in a prehistoric troglodyte settlement, and these dwellings are thought to be among the first ever human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are habitations dug into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Apulia. Many of them are really little more than caverns, and in some parts of the Sassi a street lies on top of another group of dwellings. The ancient town grew up on one slope of the rocky ravine created by a river that is now a small stream, and this ravine is known locally as “la Gravina”. In the 1950s, the government of Italy used force to relocate most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city.