Adapted from posts by Lyn Whaley
Sassi di Matera is an ancient town known for its cave dwellings, both historic and modern. The caves show evidence of human habitation dating back to 7,000 B.C. and are thought to have been the homes of the first humans in what is now modern day Italy.
The Italian government forcibly moved most of the people out of the caves in the 1950's, citing the area as an eyesore and health hazard. Since the 1980 's tourism has given new life to the caves and people are beginning to move back into them. Our local guide has turned 7 caves into a modern home for his family. He also said that there are B and Bs that offer a night in a cave for $1,000---without breakfast! The remake of Ben Hur, out in 2016, will be partially filmed here too. Talk about re-purposing!!!
Their heyday was the 19th century, especially during the development of wine growing in the area, although there is evidence they existed in the 17th century. Today, they serve as tourist shops and cafés.