Italy from Bottom to Top: On to Matera

Matera from aboveI’ve left Italy’s Puglia region and entered the Basilicata region, which lies to the northwest. The region is poorly served by trains and buses, likely because of its mountainous terrain, but I want to visit the town of Matera once more before heading north. I spent the better part of this morning trying to find a good train or bus route to the town, but there’s just no comfortable way other than renting a car. Fortunately, my friends pulled through once again, and I’m getting a ride.

Schiuma's TartsWhen we reached Matera, we headed to Café Schiuma, which is famous for its pastries and gelato. When I first saw the pastries I thought they were fruit tarts, but then I began to notice ingredients such as shrimp and hard-boiled egg. These  luxurious pastries looked like a combination of fine art and sushi.

Matera's alleywayMatera is best known for its caves; they are built throughout the canyon that runs though the city. These caves are called Sassi, and they reveal a poverty-stricken reality that greatly contrasts with the delicacies in Café Schiuma. In the 1950s nearly 50% of Matera’s inhabitants lived inside of Sassi. Today, the Sassi that are still inhabited are equipped with electricity and other luxuries. This is a fascinating place and its no wonder that Mel Gibson chose this location to film The Passion of The Christ.

Church on CliffsAfter a late lunch and some particularly bad gelato (not at Café Schiuma), I got a ride to Metaponto, a small town that is about as in the middle of nowhere as a town can be. Fortunately, unlike Matera, it has a train station with trains running north. As the sun set, my girlfriend Kristin and I threw on our bags, said goodbye to our friends, and went to buy tickets. Inside the station the ticket office was closed, but the automatic machines were working and we bought two tickets to Salerno. If we’re lucky, we’ll arrive by 10:30 tonight, with the fresh air of the Amalfi Coast filling our lungs.

Written by Mattie Bamman for

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