By Pat Mandeno
After flying from Sicily to Bari, we transfer to Matera. It is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site, but one of the world’s oldest towns dating back to the Paleolithic Age and inhabited continuously for 7000 years.The simple natural grottos that dotted the gorge were adapted to become homes.
At first glimpse, the Sassi sprawls below the yawning ravine.
The hotel for our 3 night stay is the Palazzo Viceconte. This former palace is richly decorated. Art works and antique furniture embellish the rooms and getting to the breakfast room is a walk back in time.
There is a large roof terrace where our group is welcomed with pre-dinner drinks and we marvel at the view.
We dine at a Sassi restaurant carved out of the rock. Antonio, the owner, describes each dish as it is served. Food and wine are obviously his passion and he is a generous host.
The following day we walk through the Dolomite Lucan Park visiting the old town of Castlemezzano that appears to hang from the mountain. We buy our picnic lunch and venture to the Saracen fortress town of Pietrapertosa at 1088mtrs. This offers us panoramic views of the Basento valley and in the distance we can trace our trail to Castlemezzano.