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Cave Towns of Puglia

Massafra Tourist Office

15 Via Vittorio Veneto
Massafra , Puglia
Tel: 39 099 880 4695

Matera Tourist Office

9 Via De Viti De Marco
Matera , Puglia
Tel: 39 083 533 1983's insider take:

Northwest of Taranto is the land of the gravine: deep, eroded gashes in high limestone plains, carved by rivers that have since dried up or disappeared underground. Between the sixth and the 15th centuries, the gravine were places of sanctuary, both civic and religious, for the inhabitants of the settlements above. The result is a honeycombed network of tombs, churches, and dwellings, a few of them housed in natural caves, but most carved out of the bare rock. The main Puglian cave towns are Massafra, Mottola, Ginosa, and Castellaneta—the latter famous also as the birthplace of Rudolph Valentino (there's a small museum, with erratic opening times, dedicated to the man and the myth). But the most impressive città rupestre, or rocky city, is Matera, which lies just over the border in Basilicata. Along with the houses built out of the two ravines, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, Matera has many Byzantine cave churches that look like something out of biblical times—which made it a perfect location for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

User Reviews

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Matera is breathtaking!

Went to Matera one day of our Italy trip. Had a personal tour guide in our cousin's friend, who grew up in Matera. We saw the "museum" side of the... more

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