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The Sassi of Matera are the center of the city of Matera. The city of stone, dug near the ravine, is actually inhabited since at least Paleolithic: many of the houses were lived without interruption since the Bronze Age (aside from the forced displacement in the fifties). The first definition of Sasso as a ward stony village dates back to a document of 1204.
These districts were born around the original nucleus of the ancient city, represented by the "Civita" which was the religious and political heart of the city, where stands the Cathedral (and our holiday home IL Lamione). So the “SASSO BARISANO” and “SASSO CAVEOSO”, together with the “Rione Civita”, form a complex urban center. These are dug into the calcarenitic rock, locally called "tufo", occupying the two karst basins above the cliffs on the characteristics of the amazing natural Gravina torrent.
The “Sassi” (Stones) were not ghetto neighborhoods where they were relegated to the lower classes, on the contrary, there lived people of all walks of life.
With the increase of population, however, were overcrowded and there was a population collapse in the 50s that led to the displacement of the Sassi: Alcide De Gasperi was that after visiting the city signed the first Special Law. This operation was necessary given the poor living conditions besetting the population and poor hygienic conditions, but it certainly was not painless for those who had to leave their old homes to go into neighborhoods designed by the greatest architects of the time (Ludovico Quaroni , Charles and Louis Aymonino Piccinato), definitely more comfortable.
In 1993 after a process of recovery and improvement of the Stones were on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. They were the first listed site of southern Italy.
The Sasso Barisano is turned northwest and is full of gardens, convents, houses with their carved doorways. The Sasso Caveoso is turned south, laid out like a Roman amphitheater, with impressive cave-dwellings carved into the tufa arranged in terraces along the slope.
The Sassi of Matera located at a place very low in water, are an extraordinary example of use of natural resources since the Bronze Age water was saved for times of drought thanks to an ingenious system of collecting, conveying them through channels inside the drop tanks (such PALOMBARI) carved into the limestone. Due to the insulating power of the tuff, the temperature inside the house remains constant around 15 degrees.
The roofs at times served as cemeteries: the living underground, in the dead surface. The reporter winch in his Cronica de Matera 1595-1596, says "in Matera them dead are above them alive." The neighborhoods are made up of a group of dwellings which face the same square, often with the well in the center and were the model of social life, solidarity and cooperation between the stones.
The descent in the Sassi is a wonderful and constant surprise and discovery. Between alleys and steps to get into formidable monastic complex carved into the rock, Benedictine monasteries, etc..
The stones are kept alive today and breathtaking especially at night when the lights of small residences, artisan shops and restaurants make them like a paper mache nativity.

Exciting and wonderful is the description that makes Carlo Levi in Christ Stopped at Eboli.

Finally, we recall some films in which Matera was sublime natural scenery:
"The Roaring Years" with Nino Manfredi
"The devil"
"The basilisks",
"Here begins the adventure"
"Scorched earth"
"Gospel according to Matthew" by Pasolini
"King David" starring Richard Gere
"The wolf" with Anna Magnani
"Allonsanfan" with Mastroianni
"The Passion of Christ" by Mel Gibson
"The night sun,too"
"The tree of Guernica"
"The  starmaker" by Tornatore
"The grotesque side of life"
"The Nativity Story"
"The lost love"
"Christ Stopped at Eboli" by Rosi
"Year one" of Rosellini
And many more ...