Matera – Italy’s Cave Town

Puglia, 5 image panorama

Matera, 5 image panorama (click on image to enlarge)

The first stop on our recent trip to Italy was Matera, a town that has been continuously inhabited for 150,000 years. In this first photo, a panorama of five images stitched together, you can just make out some early caves on the opposite side of the 600 foot deep canyon. The Sassi itself is comprised of thousands of caves, all hand carved out of the rock, and later added on to with “fronts” added on using stone from the excavations.  Historically, Matera was a very poor town, and as recently as the 1950’s, the Italian government actually made everyone move from the Sassi due to the very poor living conditions. Since then, many of the caves have been renovated and are again being inhabited.


Puglia Hotel Room (click on image to enlarge)

Matera Hotel Room (click on image to enlarge)


We stayed in a hotel that has completely upgraded several of the caves with modern plumbing and electricity, providing for a unique experience for tourists like us.






Stairs are everywhere

Stairs are everywhere


You might call Matera the town of 100,000 steps, as everything is up or down no matter where you walk. It is such a period piece that several movies have been made here. The most recent was Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ”. We spent a great couple of days in Matera, enjoying an excellent tour as well as the food and local wine. Following are a few images I shot while walking around this fascinating town.

More stairs in Puglia

More stairs in Matera (click on image to enlarge)



Trip to Puglia, Italy

Entrances to Cave Apartments (click on image to enlarge)











Trip to Puglia, Italy

Doorway at an elevated entrance (click on image to enlarge)


I always like to get a few shots of local doorways when traveling. Here are just a couple.

Cave Entrance Door

Cave Entrance Door (click on image to enlarge)











View from a Patio (click on image to enlarge)

View from a Patio (click on image to enlarge)


Wherever you look, there are caves everywhere. And at night, the illuminated views make a great presentation.


Puglia perched on a cliff's edge (click on image to enlarge)

Matera perched on a cliff’s edge (click on image to enlarge)



Puglia Churches at Night (click on image to enlarge)

Matera Churches at Night (click on image to enlarge)




















All the photos from our trip were taken with a pocket size Sony RX100 III. This is a really nifty little camera. It shoots 20 MB RAW files and has many of the same controls found only on larger DSLR cameras. I think it does a great job, and is certainly much easier to tote around than any of my Nikon gear. As mentioned earlier in this post, the first image is a five frame panorama. If printed at full size, it would measure over 6 feet long and 2 feet high. I haven’t printed it that large, but a 19″x 7″ print looks very good and even that is reduced from the original full frame size. Hope that you enjoy these photos.



10 Responses to Matera – Italy’s Cave Town

  1. John seaberg

    Just wonderful John thanks for taking us long. Where to next. JS

  2. John Kelly

    Hi John and Darcy: Thanks so much for these really professional photos. We are very impressed, …and jealous. What an awesome trip. We loved Italy also but only got a taste. Maybe some day we can go back. Looking forward to more pictures. Best wishes for a continued safe and photogenic trip. Regards. JK

  3. Brigita Clementi

    Hi John and Darcy
    Gorgeous photos (as always). The trip looks wonderful…seeing places off the beaten track. Let’s have drinks when you get back

  4. martie

    You are the 3rd couple that I know to have gone here I think. It is spectacular. How lucky you were to be in such fantastic shape now and to have a lovely trip to share.

  5. Rich Loeschke

    I didn’t know there were 5 star caves in existence. No bats hanging from the ceiling. I haven’t been to Italy, but some of your shots remind me of the George Clooney movie “The American”. He stayed in a secluded town very similar to this so that he could work on his project “off the grid.”
    Great shots! Good to hear from you.

  6. julie

    What an amazing place. Wow. Hugs and thanks for sharing to you and Darcy.

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