Matera

71. Sassi


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Matera is a city of maybe 50000 souls in the Basilicata province. On the map you find it by the arch of the Italian boot, some 30-40 km from the coast. What's special with Matera is the Sassi. In this area, the houses are partly dug out of the rock, something which has a long history. However, in the beginning of the 1950s the entire population – around 15000 people – were evicted to modern houses in other parts of town. Without running water and proper sewage, the condition in the area were miserable. These days, the Sassi is listed as a World Heritage by Unesco.

Today there are again people living in the Sassi, presumably in houses that have been thoroughly updated to modern standards. Most houses are still empty, though, and there is a heavy slant towards hotels and plainer cafés targeting tourists. Overall, it's fairly quiet in the Sassi, and the buzzing street life in Matera is elsewhere.