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Report 1911: Travels in Sicily and Southern Italy

By Linda Hagstrom from Pennsylvania USA, Spring 2011

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Page 12 of 14: Thursday April 7 - Matera

photo by Linda

Matera sassi area

Today Alessandra took me to the Murgia. The Murgia lies across a deep ravine from Matera, and looks from Matera like big empty fields with a few rock outcrops. This is where the very first people of Matera lived. No one lives there now. It was abandoned many hundreds of years ago.

First we stopped at an old caravanserai for shepherds and sheep. They have the transhumance here - the yearly moving of flocks of sheep from the low pastures to the heights in the spring, and back down in the fall. The caravanserai was a long low building with a large enclosed grassy area attached.

We then went to a cave church - this was used by very early (3-7th centuries) Christians. The church was almost a rock-shelter instead of a cave but you could see the division into three parts and the crosses chipped into the rock.

The next cave church had a Greek side and a Roman side and was used from the 8th to the 12th century. There was also a very good viewpoint nearby, with a wonderful panoramic view of part of Matera including the sassi.

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