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May 15, 2006

Altamura - Matera, 30 km

It's not far to Matera which is actually no longer in Apulia but over the boundary to the Basilicata region. We leave Altamura on a main road with heavy traffic but can soon turn off onto a side road, the Via Appia Antica, which I am sure, besides its name, has little in common with the Via Appia of ancient times. Again we pass deserted, deteriorating buildungs and not much else. 

It was a short ride which leaves us most of the day for exploring the unique ancient ciy of Matera with its winding streets, endless stairs and archways, and numerous natural caves which once housed dwellings and churches.

Matera was chosen to provide the backdrop to Mel Gibson's  "The Passion of Christ", a film which required a special landscape and atmosphere.

The many natural caves in Matera were the first houses of the Neolithic inhabitants of the region. Distinguishing the natural rock formations from the structures created by the ancient inhabitants is often impossible.

 

Yes, it's a mountain bike, but no, we don't ride the stairs, especially not up.

We find accomodation in a hostel which was previously a monastery. It seems there is much funding for the restoration of the old city of Matera and this monastery has also benefited. It has rooms as well as dormitory space. A night in the dormitory, quiet and comfortable, with breakfast is 16 . I can recommend it highly.

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