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June 5, 2009 / TAB

Sassi Matera

  After arriving in Rome and taking the train to Frosinone and picking up my rental car, I headed out for my first stop of Matera. I stayed in the cave hotel of Locanda di San Martino. Even with a GPS and a map of how to get to the hotel, it was difficult. The long drive right after the plane flight was also challenging for the last two hours. Sleep came easily but I woke up at 2 am so I took some night shots of the sassi. 
    Since I only had one full day here, I made the most of it, wandering through the winding streets, climbing up to the Piazza Duomo, only to find the church was closed, and going back down to the Chiesa San Pietro Caveoso to see a 16th century statue of Mother and Child carved from the soft tufo stone. Then I climbed up to the linked churches of Madonna dell’ Idris and San Giovanni in Monterrone with its amazing frescoes. Respecting the rules of no pictures in the churches was a challenge because I wanted a record of the unusual locations of these churches in the rock.
From there I made it up to the “new” town and Piazza V. Veneto. It’s a good place for a rest and people watching. Later my dinner companions  were a group of neighborhood cats looking for affection instead of food handouts. 
Tearing myself away from this unique location the next morning, I headed for more new territory, Puglia.


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