At first, Matera was like other places we visited on our tour of Sicily and Italy. Castle remains on the hill? Check. Fashionable guide with matching shirt and glasses? Check.
Colorful newstand? Check.
But after a fair amount of climbing uphill, we came to an overlook of the older part of town.
This substituted for Jerusalem in the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” And filming of a remake of “Ben Hur” recently wrapped up here. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped when I saw this before me.
This area has been inhabited continuously for 11,00 years, starting in caves like the ones below.
Early buildings were built to incorporate the caves inside of them. There is a “new” church, Matera Cathedral, built in the 13th century in the lower left of the picture below. The older church, built into the rock, is just above and just left of the middle of the picture.
We go to tour one of the old homes and get a glimpse of the way life used to be.
People do actually still live in this neighborhood.