Matera, Italy


Charming old town in the middle of vineyards

The small town of Montalcino is located in the heart of the Italian Tuscany near the city of Siena and is best known for wine. Thanks to the good climate, one of the best and noblest wines in Italy is grown here, the Brunello. The place built on the hill, however, has more to offer than just wine; study travelers will also get their money’s worth here between the charming old town streets.

Attractions in Montalcino

Montalcino inspires with a picturesque old town framed by city walls. The medieval fortress Rocca di Montalcino from 1361 sits enthroned high on the hill, the view of the surrounding landscape with the vineyards alone is worthwhile. In summer music events take place in the inner courtyard of the fortress and you can also take part in a wine tasting. The Abbey of Sant’Antimo is also located in Montalcino. The complex is one of the most beautiful and important monastery complexes in Italy.

Many other sights are scattered all over the old town. On a stroll through the town center, you can explore the medieval charm of the Piazza del Popolo, the Palazzo Comunale and the Duomo San Salvatore in peace. Many of the buildings have been extensively restored and shine in their old splendor. The Palazzo dei Priori is also worth a visit. Here is the town hall of Montalcino, on the outer walls you can find the historical city coat of arms, the Gothic loggia with a famous statue of Cosimo I di Giovanni Berti. The Civico Museum houses one of the region’s most important art collections, the most famous of which is the portrait of the “Madonna and Child”.


a city of high cliffs, deep gorges and countless caves

gray white, pale sand yellow and light beige, in addition to which there are always various earth tones and fresh to bright green spots of color. Seen individually, the dominant colors of the city of Matera, located on the Murgia plateau, are rather simple and unspectacular, but as a common play of colors they create a unique picture. A city in Italy that literally merges with the surrounding nature. And in a very special, almost unprecedented way.

The “Sassi di Matera” – really extraordinary traces of human settlements

Because large parts of the historic old town, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1993, did not just emerge from nature, but rather from nature. Similar to how the Gravina river washed its way deeper and deeper into the soft tuff rock of the karst plateau in the southern Italian region of Basilicata over millions of years, the first settlers in the Stone Age dug their way into the steep, rugged cliffs on both sides of the gorge, creating countless caves. which nestle partly next to, partly on top of each other on the rugged rock face.

“City of caves” – a journey into the past with many sights

“Sasso di Barisano” and “Sasso di Caveoso” are the names of these two historic districts today. A walk through the labyrinthine branching streets leads you deep into the wondrous “city of caves” and takes you back to the archaic world of the Middle Ages. Many of the former residential caves now have normal house facades and extensions, so that only a look inside reveals that this is a cave carved into the rock a good thousand years ago. Thanks to the soft rock, the naturally formed grottos have gradually been expanded into a widely branched network through countless man-made caves and grottos. A sophisticated well and irrigation system made everyday life in the rock caves more comfortable from the Bronze Age onwards. For those who want to delve even deeper into their former life, selected caves are open to them. Furnished with original furniture, the grottos act as a kind of “mini-museum” and provide an insight into everyday “cave life”. Other caves have been given a modern touch and accommodate holidaymakers on trips in a uniquely rustic ambience or serve as wine bars and art galleries.

Capital of Culture Matera 2019 – this city offers more than just the “Sassi”

In addition to the caves that have largely been preserved to this day, Matera also has other cultural treasures on offer, which is why it was deservedly named Capital of Culture 2019. Over the various epochs, Matera has been steadily expanded by further buildings and structures made of local tufa, which fit seamlessly into the archaic cityscape, to a city that now has a population of over 60,000 high above the Gravina river valley. Visitors on study trips freeze in awe at the sight of a total of 150 cave churches, artistically designed inside and out. The churches “Madonna delle Virtù” and “San Nicola dei Greci”, one above the other, represent two real beauties. But the city also has some remarkable buildings above ground. The cathedral in Romanesque-Gothic style, built in 1270, is a real eye-catcher. The “Palazzo del Sedile” is also undoubtedly magnificent and elegant. And if you still haven’t had enough of rock-hewn churches and caves, there are other activities for you, such as a trip to the nearby “Parco della Murgia Materana”. From here, the historic old town of Materna reveals all of its glory from days long gone in the warm light of the setting sun.

Matera, Italy