Coffee with Saverio from Le Origini, Matera
Matera is the 3rd oldest city in the world and has been inhabited for over 7000 years. Located in the Basilicata region (right next to Puglia), it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site since 1993. A city with a fascinating and complex history that leaves those who visit with a sense of awe, and a further appreciation of the Italian culture.
We spoke with Saverio and Anna from Le Origini Suites to give us a rundown on the city of Matera.
What’s the perfect 24 hours in your city?
The best thing you can do in my city is to get lost in the alleys of the Sassi. You also shouldn’t leave without visiting a Casa Grotta (cave house). It is the typical home of the inhabitants of Matera in the 50s, when the city was considered the shame of Italy. I recommend that you visit at least one of the many cave churches and to visit the extremely interesting Palombaro Lungo, the largest water collection tank in Matera and one of the largest in the world.
What restaurants would you recommend to impress?
For gourmet lovers I would recommend the restaurant Vitantonio Lombardo. It has a Michelin star and will leave diners truly impressed with their selection of delicious cuisines. The restaurant is set in a grotto with each room irregular and creating a different level of intimacy.
For something with more typical Matera cuisine I would choose Osteria Materamì and Ristorante Baccus. Here you will find some of the typical dishes of Matera, such as lasagna or baked pans, to local meats and homemade desserts such as sporcamusi and spumette.
Read about more food places on our guide to eating in Matera here.
Where can a traveller find an authentic local experience in your city?
Matera is famous for bread… So the best authentic experience is the bread lab. A laboratory where they will tell the story of Matera through bread and as they reveal the secret of its recipe. It will be an opportunity to literally get your hands in the dough in a real traditional and modern bakery at the same time. This experience will allow you to discover how tradition and innovation have mixed in the art of baking in Matera.
What city tours would you recommend?
I highly recommend taking a Sassi tour and Murgia Park tour.
Sassi Tour: this will involve a pleasant walk through the characteristic alleys inside the Sassi; Sasso Caveoso, Sasso Barisano, Cave House and Rupestrian Churches.
Murgia Park tour: Discover the park of the Murgia of Matera, also known as the Natural History Park of the Rupestrian Churches. During the excursion you will be able to admire a unique show that the Sassi offers at sunset. During the excursion you will also visit some precious rupestrian churches:
- Rupestrian Crypt of St. Falcione with a beautiful fresco of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple
- Rock Church of the Madonna delle Tre Porte with the presence of frescoes dating back to between the 12th and 17th centuries.
If you want a fun night out, where would you suggest?
The street that is populated in the night is Via Ridola. You can find the typical Italian Aperitivo or you can drink very good cocktails at Area 8 pub and Charlie’s Speakeasy.
What are the local customs that travellers should embrace?
We are in southern Italy, the only custom is to always smile, eat and drink all together! If you meet some old man crying while he tells his story, don’t worry, he is only happy and excited. Listen to him even though you probably can’t understand what he’s saying.
What’s your best advice for someone visiting your city?
I think the best thing is to look at the city with the eyes of those who, up to 70 years ago, did not have a house to sleep and were forced to dig into the rock to create a cave and live with dogs, cats, chickens and mules. Only in this way can you understand the true meaning of Matera’s ransom.
Any other tips, hints or must experience suggestions?
Make sure you try our wine: Agliano and Primitivo. And also try our simple food: peperone crusco, Salsiccia pezzente, cialledda, fave e cicorie.
Lose yourself in the Sassi. Don’t worry if you don’t know where you are. Simply look for the cathedral or the main square of the city to find your way.
Tell us about your hotel – Le Origini Suites
My hotel is the story of a typical southern Italian family from the 1940s, when my grandfather emigrated to the United States in search of work and came back to Matera after a few years to build his house. Now that house is my hotel.
Tags: Italy, travel tips, Puglia, Great Hotels, matera, Southern Italy, Basilicata