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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Sep-18 > Matera


Sara Scarpa flies south to visit a unique town that lives in the imagination of all Italians


Clockwise from top left: A typical house in Matera with a less than typical decoration; this view down a quiet backstreet shows just how closely built the Sassi are; Matera’s history dates back to before history was ever recorded; a more typical decoration; fresco at the Church of St Lucy; Cucina Lucana, the typical cuisine of Basilicata, is as delightful and distinctive as the city itself; it is well worth getting up to see the sun rise over Matera; Piazza San Pietro San Caveoso by night; looking up into the Sassi

Lots has been written about this mystical and historic town in the otherwise little-known and rarely visited region of Basilicata. Part grotto, part subterranean wonderland (it is known as the Città Sotterranea, the Underground City) and fully beautiful and unique, the town and its long and chequered past have been part of my consciousness for as long as I can remember. And now I was finally going to travel to the far south of Italy to search for the answers to all the questions I have had about the place.

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About Italia!

The Dolomites are a popular summer retreat for many Italians. We’ll show you how walking takes precedence over the winter activities we usually associate with this beautiful region. We also visit the secret green spaces of Italy’s cities, perfect oases if you are taking a summer city break. And we visit Matera, a city once known as ‘the shame of Italy’ but now set to become the European Capital of Culture.