Panorama of Sassi of Matera
The Sassi (Caves)
Some originally made in paleolithic times, the Sassi di Matera cliff dwellings (divided into the Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano) formed the backdrop for The Passion of the Christ, among other films; while most of the good restaurants and hotels are in Sasso Barisano, it's well worth a hike over the hill to check out the more characteristic Caveoso side. Check out some of the rock churches such as Madonna de Idris. In the Caveoso district, on Vico Solitario, there is a house set up to show what living conditions were like in the earlier days.
Hiking the Ancient Caves
The Parco della Murgia Matera (or "Park of the Rupestrian Churches"), which extends to Montescaglioso, contains older caves dating back to Paleolithic times, some of which have been turned into churches; this is the part of Matera that is in many films. Parts of the park also have excellent views over the "Gravina" (Ravine) to the main town of Matera.
InBasillicata has downloadable GPS maps of the area, starting from Serra Sant'Angelo at 40°38'N 16°38.08'E
Centro di Educazione Ambientale (CEA, "Center for Environmental Education") runs tours from Jazzo Gattini / Masseria Radogna, 40°40'20"N 16°37'44"E, 083-533-2262, 320-263-6528, 388-892-5407, firstname.lastname@example.org ...this is more or less the "official" tour of the park
Every day (from April to September) at 10:30 AM, they run a 1.25 hour "Tourist" tour for €10 (€6 under 18, free under 6) of some of the churches: San Falcione, Madonna delle Tre Porte
Every day (from April to September) at 4 or 6 PM, they run a 2.25 hour "View" tour for €15 (€7 under 18, free under 6) of San Falcione, Sant'Agnese, Mandonna delle Tre Porte, and more grottos
Cripta del Peccato Originale (Crypt of Original Sin) - in Contrada Perrapenta, S of Matera, 320-535-0910, email@example.com, can also book at www.cryptoforiginalsin.it, closed Mon, €9 (free under 10), 6 showings a day (9:30, 11, 12:30, 15:30, 17:00, and 18:30), meet at Q8 Service Station on SS-7 at 40°36'24"N 16°34'11"E...you can also pay €29 for a tour of the Crypt of Original Sin in the morning followed by a tour of the Sassi and Murgia Park
Where to Eat
#Il Cantuccio - via delle Beccherie 33, 083-533-2090, firstname.lastname@example.org, closed Mon, homemade bread, pastas, and desserts, local specialties, ~€25-35, fixed price menu €30, rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, and TCI; also one of Mangiarozzo's "10 restaurants not to miss" in Italy; also check out this food blog.
Le Botteghe (Arrosto Vino e Cucina) - Piazza San Pietro Barisano 22, 083-534-4072, great charcoal-grilled steak and also pastas, in the heart of the centro storico, "one of the finest pieces of meat in the region" says Fodor's also rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Chowhound readers, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, Veronelli, Michelin, TCI, and Mangiarozzo ~€35-40.
Le Lucanerie - via Santo Stefano 61, 083-533-2133, excellent food, especially antipasti and desserts, beautiful vaulted space on edge of centro storico, ~€30-50, rec'd by blogger (and sequel), another blog, Fodor's, Panorama, Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, Veronelli, Michelin, and TCI. Also see Luciano Pignataro's blog (in Italian).
San Pietro Barisano - Rione San Biagio 52, Sasso Barisano, 083-534-6191, closed Mon, in converted Sassi, excellent ingredients for local food, ~€35, €15 fixed price, rec'd by Gambero Rosso, also rent 5 rooms.
Lucana (Antica Trattoria Lucana 1900) - via Lucana 48, 083-533-6117, closed Sun, moderate trattoria with local favorites, Cadogan rec's the antipasti della casa; also rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Michelin, and Mangiarozzo. Some of Maria Michela's dishes are named after films shot in Matera.
Il Casino del Diavolo - via La Martella 48, 083-526-1986, closed Mon, rec'd by Panorama, Michelin, TCI, and Mangiarozzo
Nadì - via Fiorentini 1/3, near Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 083-533-2892, 339-601-0828, open every day, in a cave, good fava puree says Fodor's, also rec'd by Slow Travel reader and Mangiarozzo (mostly because of its stunning location, and because the editor chalked up a bad experience to arriving in the middle of Ferragosto), ~€25-30
Il Terrazzino - vico San Giuseppe 7, off Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 083-533-2503, 339-465-6918, rec'd by Cadogan and Mangiarozzo (who say "the name says everything" due to their beautiful terrace overlooking the Sasso Barisano)
La Cantina della Bruna - via Spartivento 20, Sasso Barisano, 083-533-5010, 329-951-1755, closed Sun/Mon dinner (in winter), rec'd by Mangiarozzo, ~€25.
Ristorante Il Borghese - via Lucana 198, 083-531-4223, 320-793-9784, closed Wed except summer, rec'd by Mangiarozzo, ~€25-35.
Rivelli - via Casalnuovo 27, 083-531-1568, closed Mon, Sun night, in a Sasso, regional food, ~€35, €25 fixed price menu, rec'd by Espresso. Also run "La Fattoria" at via Tagliamento 12, 083-530-7414.
Del Corso - via Luigi La Vista 12, 083-533-2892, cheap, "gorge yourself for a pittance in the company of discerning locals" says Cadogan.
(Hotel Italia) Basilico - via San Francesco 33, 083-533-6540, cheap, good pizza and other rustic plates, also rent rooms, closed Fri, ~€18-22 rec'd by Cadogan and Michelin.
Oi Mari - good pizza
Alle Fornaci - Piazza Firrao 7, 083-533-5037, closed Mon, seafood, rec'd by Espresso and Michelin, ~€30-40, €25 fixed price.
Baccanti - via Sant'Angelo 58/61, 083-533-3704, closed Sun eve, Mon, modern restaurant rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Espresso, Veronelli, and TCI, ~€30-60.
Da Mario - via XX Settembre 14, 083-533-6491, closed Sun, local food or pizza in an old palace, rec'd by Veronelli, ~€30, fixed price €15.
Diciannovesima Buca (19th Mouth) - via Lombardi 3, 083-533-3592, closed Mon, enoteca and restaurant in Sasso, also has virtual golf (?!), ~€30-35, rec'd by Espresso and Veronelli.
Hotel del Campo le Spighe - via Lucrezio, 083-538-8844, good local food, garden terrace, also rent rooms, ~€40, rec'd by Michelin and TCI.
Il Castello - via Castello 1, 083-533-3752, cheap, good orecchiette with mushrooms and sausage, closed Wed, rec'd by Cadogan.
La Cucina Casareccia - via S. Cesarea, 083-534-4101, closed Sun eve, Mon, rec'd by TCI.
La Latteria - via Duni 2, 083-531-2058, rec'd by Alice, cheap.
La Stalla Arte e Mestiere - via Rosario 78, 083-524-0455, in a cave, ~€25-30, €20 fixed price, rec'd by Slow Travel reader and TCI.
Trattoria del Caveoso - via Buozzi 21, 083-531-2374, closed Sun eve, Mon, rec'd by TCI.
Trattoria Lucana - via Lucana 48, 083-533-6117, closed Sun, ~€25, rec'd by Panorama, Michelin, and TCI.
Osteria Al Vicinata - via Fiorentini 58, Sasso Barisano, 083-534-4180, Frommer's says it's one of the "most memorable meals in southern Italy" thanks to its eccentric chef who serves up authentic local dishes.
Sapere & Sapori - via Dante 54/58, 083-525-6548, clsoed Sun eve and Mon, rec'd by Alice.
Gelato, Coffee & Pastries
Gelateria Cremeria dell'Angelo - Via XX Settembre 5, probably one of the best gelaterie in town; close to the main piazza
I Vizi degli Angeli - named by Dissapore in 2017 as the #42 gelateria in all Italy, Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020
Pasthello Pasticceria Gelateria Caffetteria - Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020
Caffè Vittorio Veneto - Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 329-234-5815, good coffee and gelato says Slow Travel reader, although it is expensive Another online reviewer says they have the "best spremuta d'arancia in Italy"...but we weren't that impressed (it's a bit expensive).
Where to Stay
Locanda di San Martino - via Fiorentini 71, Sasso Barisano, 40°40'01"N 16°36'30"E, 083-525-6600, semi-luxurious (A/C, etc.) converted sassi for reasonable prices, great location, also has a "thermae" (spa) with hottub/cave pool/sauna, nice breakfast, rec'd by Frommer's, good reviews online.
Sassi Hostel - via San Giovanni Vecchio 89, 083-533-1009, brand-new hostel in the Sasso Barisano region, highly recommended by many guidebooks; rooms as cheap as €70
Hotel Sant'Angelo - Piazza San Pietro Caveoso, 083-531-4010, Fodor's rec's, used to be cave dwellings but fixed up (A/C, hip design); also has a restaurant (Regia Corte).
Basiliani Hotel - Rione Casalnuovo 115, 083-319-474, 328-532-3072, (GPS coordinates on their website are wrong), hyper-modern interiors in these rennovated Sassi
Hotel Sassi - via San Giovanni Vecchio, 083-533-1009, also rents a few cave rooms amongst their offerings, rec'd by Cadogan.
Piccolo Albergo - via di Sariis 11, 083-533-0201, moderate option rec'd by Cadogan
Italia - via Ridola 5, 083-533-3561, pleasant, moderate option with some views over the Sassi rec'd by Cadogan.
Le Monacelle - via Riscatto 9/10, 083-534-4097, has dorm beds and doubles, rec'd by Frommer's.
Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano
Medieval villages selected as some of the "most beautiful towns in Italy" near the Dolomiti Lucane (Lucanian Dolomites) in the Regional Park of Gallipoli Cognato. These towns are more or less on the way between Naples & Matera or Puglia.
#Al Becco della Civetta ("In the little owl's beak") in Castelmezzano, Vico i Maglietta 7, 097-198-6249, 345-986-4855, Basilicata specials, homemade pasta, and other delicious delights from cook and proprietor Maria Antonietta Santoro, also rent rooms, rec'd by chowhounds, Mangiarozzo, Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, Michelin, and TCI; €30 fixed price menu (even less for children or vegetarians).
Grotta dell'Eremita - ...
Volo dell'Angelo (Flight of the Angel) zipline between Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, 400 meters tall, 120 km/hr!
...further down the road is another hill town, Accetura - rec'd restaurant: Pezzolla, via Roma 21, 083-567-5008, 335-673-1241, also rents out rooms, rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, and TCI; ~€25 including drinks.
The largest national park in Italy, this includes the peak of Monte Pollino (2248m); part of it extends into northern Calabria
Terranova di Polino - a town in the heart of the park; Luna Rossa - via Marconi 18, 097-393-254, rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, Michelin, and TCI.
Capital of Basilicata; not much of tourist interest but conveniently on the way between Naples and Matera or Puglia (although you might want to continue further to Pietrapertosa or Castelmezzano, see above...or to Vaglio Basilicata, see below)
Antica Osteria Marconi - via Marconi 23, 097-156-900, rec'd by Mangiarozzo, Gambero Rosso, Espresso, Michelin, and TCI
C'era Una Volta - Contrada Valle Paradiso 368, 097-160-1217, closed Sun eve, Mon, rec'd by Gambero Rosso and Espresso
Ristorante 2 Torri - via Due Torri 6/8, 097-141-1661, 338-883-1189, email@example.com, rec'd by Mangiarozzo
(Ristorante Pizzeria) Fuori le Mura - via IV Novembre 34, 097-125-409, rec'd by Mangiarozzo and Espresso
Trattoria Isuccio - via Appia 198, 097-159-029, 335-654-8267, firstname.lastname@example.org, rec'd by Mangiarozzo and Espresso
Zi'Mingo - Condrada Botte, via de Coubertin 43, 097-144-5929, closed Mon, rec'd by Gambero Rosso and TCI.
La Pietra del Sale - in Avigliano, ~30 min north of Potenza, Località Montecaruso, 097-187-063, rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, and TCI.
Gaudeamus - Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020
A cute hill town just past Potenza; houses the Museum of the People of Lucania
La Dimora dei Cavalieri - Contrada Tataseppe 1, 340-374-5730, open every day but closed late Dec - late Feb, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia and Mangiarozzo....must reserve ahead, ~€30.
A seaside resort town with cliffs dividing up various neighborhoods, "as beautiful as the Amalfi coast, but without the traffic" says one traveller; convenient stop if going to/from Calabria or Sicily.
Taverna Rovita - via Rovita 13, 097-387-6588, traditional recipes and fresh seafood, a bit expensive though, rec'd by Fodor's and Cadogan
La Torre - Largo Immacolata 097-387-6227, most popular trattoria in the historic center, cheap, rec'd by Cadogan
Da Cesare - Località Cersuta SS 18, 097-387-1840, closed Thurs, rec'd by Gambero Rosso
Il Giardino di Epicuro - Località Massa di maratea, vi Massa Piano, 097-387-0130, closed Wed, only dinner, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'italia and TCI.
Emilio Gelateria - rec'd Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020 "3 coni", and named one of the top 100 gelaterie in Italy by Dissapore in 2018
Rotonda: nearby town, Mangiarozzo, Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, Michelin, and TCI all rec'd Ristorante da Peppe, Corso Garibaldi 13, 097-366-1251, closed Mon/Sun eve, ~€25-30, with cheaper fixed price menus for under €20; Giuseppe (Peppe) can also help you with rooms. On August 25th, there is a Red Eggplant (Aubergine) Festival.
Trecchina: nearby town, Mangiarozzo rec's Ristorante Pizzeria Lanterna Verde, Piazza del Popolo 22, 097-382-6216, 368-999-450
Lagonegro: town on the way to Maratea on A3, Slow Food Osterie d'italia rec's agriturismo Azienda Valsirino, Località Aniella 1, 338-815-8496, 338-529-0928, closed Wed.
Rivello: another town between A3 and Maratea, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia rec's agriturismo Coccovello, Località Contrada Carposcino, 2 SS 585, 097-342-8025, 329-223-9318, closed Mon
The Ionian Sea is on the "instep" of Italy's boot; most of the Ionian Coast is in Puglia (extending up to Taranto) and Calabria, but tucked between them is a small slice of Basilicata.
Policoro - restaurant: Pitty - rec'd by Gambero Rosso
Rotondella - restaurant: La Mangiatoia - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia and Mangiarozzo