As a tourist destination, Italy offers an endless abundance of possible places, activities and experiences.
More than 60 million foreign tourists visit the country annually, with projected numbers growing. Florence, Venice, Rome and Milan are the top destinations. However, the country has so much to offer away from the beaten track.
Southern Italy, in particular, is home to some rare jewels, making it an ideal destination for an enriching experience and relaxing journeys. For those wanting to discover something new this year, we suggest a visit to Matera, Basilicata’s ancient town, which – together with the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv – shares the title of 2019 European Capital of Culture, which Novi Sad will hold in 2021.
Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Matera is famous for its pale gold limestone and has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The programme conceived for Matera as the capital of culture is simply brilliant.
Matera as a cultural capital offers a profusion of events, touching on nature and the landscape, history and utopia, art, science, and cultural citizenship as catalysts of a new model for Europe
It offers a profusion of events over six different themes, touching relationships with nature and the landscape, history and utopia, art, science, and cultural citizenship as catalysts of a new model for Europe, connecting it to a very long human past. Matera’s two cave districts, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, have been used as human dwellings for thousands of years. Carved in the fossil-rich stone layers and built one on top of another, those prehistoric apartments are the first attraction to shock visitors.
Now that the former cavemen’s cells have been elegantly transformed into hotels and restaurants, they resemble a marvellous stone beehive. Past the Sassi, walking through the labyrinthine pathways of the town, Matera reveals itself as a cultural journey through history and art. A baroque Palazzo here, Roman ruins there, seven centuries old frescos in front of a medieval monastery in the back: a playground for culture embedded in calcareous walls.
Tired of walking and exploring the cultural scene? Have a rest and try freshly baked focaccia and local cheeses made with the Cardoncello mushroom, or try the classic orecchiette with fennel sausage, served with local Aglianico wine.
For more information visit www.matera-basilicata2019.it