Matera, Italy: 7 Tips You Need to Know

January 02, 2013

Matera, a hauntingly beautiful town in Italy

If you enjoy our travel guides, check out all the tours we offer to some of the most life-changing sights in Italy

Famous for its sassi and stunning landscapes, Matera, located on the border of Basilicata and Puglia, is one of our favorite cities in Italy. It’s not only breathtaking, but fascinating: Its history goes back more than 30,000 years.

Did we mention that it’s much easier to than you think?

Here are the top 7 reasons you should add Matera to your the itinerary of your next Italy trip! And if you like UNESCO World Heritage sites (who doesn’t?) don’t forget to  i you want to read our blog on the other jaw-dropping UNESCO World Heritage sites in southern Italy.

1. Matera’s famous sassi aren’t what you think they are

The sassi of Matera

Many people think that Matera’s cave dwellings are called “sassi.” They’re not. The sassi (literally meaning “stones”) actually refer to the two neighborhoods of stone dwellings in the ancient town.

Neolithic caves of Matera

Matera’s Neolithic caves

These dwellings, by the way, don’t always look like caves from the outside. (The caves you see in some pictures, like this one to the right, are Palaeolithic caves located across the ravine from Matera’s ancient center).

Instead, these dwellings, carved into the rock, look like homes piled one on top of the other. (Their interiors, though, often feel cave-like). It’s an ingenious, and space-saving, design: Step onto one of the narrow lanes between houses, and you’re actually standing on the roof of the house below. It’s also smart when it comes to sharing water, since water would be gathered on the plateau above the town and then come down so that the entire community could share it.

Two main quarters sprung up in Matera that were built this way… and these are the two sassi. 

2. Aside from Petra, Jordan, Matera is the oldest continuously-inhabited settlement in history

The Palaeolithic caves of Matera

We call the oldest period in human history the “Palaeolithic period,” a time when woolly mammoths roamed the earth and the last Ice Age was just winding down. And guess what? This is when people first settled in Matera. (We’re talking at around about 15,000 B.C.).

What makes Matera different from other Palaeolithic settlements, though, is that those inhabitants, and their ancestors, never left. Instead, they dug in—quite literally. In the Iron and Bronze Ages, newly-equipped with metal tools, settlers dug underground caverns, cisterns, and tombs in the landscape’s soft volcanic stone (called tufa). Famously, they also dug dwellings.

Those dwellings, and those people, remained throughout the later waves of rulers and empires, from Greeks to Romans to Byzantines. They (and their descendants) are still there today… even though some things are a little different.

3. Matera is where The Passion of the Christ was filmed

Because of Matera’s unearthly, ancient beauty, Mel Gibson chose it as the setting for his 2004 The Passion of the Christ. He’s not the first director to have set a Biblical film here: Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), Beresford’s King David (1985), and Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story (2006) were all filmed here, as well.

4. In Matera, the living wasn’t always easy

Life in Matera’s stone dwellings: not always so romantic (photo courtesy of Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario)

Today, Matera seems incredibly romantic. But it wasn’t always this way. Even now, you can imagine the difficulties of living in the town’s ancient sassi: Homes, stores and churches are connected via narrow paths or stairs, so forget driving from your house to the grocery store. For those used to modern conveniences, living in a stone dwelling in Matera would be challenging!

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, poverty also was rife in Matera, as for so much of southern Italy. People lived in one-room stone homes—or, yes, caves—without heat or plumbing, often with donkeys or other animals sharing the same space. (For the curious, the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario shows what living in the 1950s would have been like). Malaria was rife. Conditions were so bad that, in 1952, the government of Italy passed a law forcing Matera’s dwellers out of their old quarters and into new, modern buildings. This “new Matera” still exists, up the hill from the ancient sassi, and it’s where the vast majority of Matera’s residents live today.

But in 1993, the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. And as Matera has gotten more popular, people have started moving back into the sassi, restoring the stone homes and even opening them as luxury hotels. If Matera’s 19th- and early-20th century inhabitants could see their town now, they’d be astonished!

5. Now’s the time to see Matera’s stone churches… but please, don’t touch the frescoes

The rupestrian church of Madonna di Idris in Matera

The churches of Matera, like the homes, are carved into stone. (These types of churches are called “rupestrian churches”). They date back to the Middle Ages; many have their interiors covered in vibrant frescoes.

A damaged, but still vibrant, fresco in one of Matera’s rupestrian churches

Fascinating and eerie, these churches are also, unfortunately, in not-so-hot shape. While some restorations have taken place, the frescoes remain extremely delicate. And something that’s making them worse? Damage caused by tourists—particularly from touching them. (Frescoes are especially sensitive to moisture, so the natural oils from your skin damage the artwork). In one church after another, you can see where the frescoes have all but completely disappeared in the parts where people have grabbed onto them, such as around doorframes.

So please, go see the frescoes now, before they disappear. Contribute to their future restoration with your admission ticket price. And never, ever touch them.

6. If you don’t like stairs, you might not like Matera…

Coming to Matera? Expect to climb some stairs!

…or at least might not want to stay in its sassi. To get around, even just from your hotel to a church, you will be climbing stairs. Lots of them. And forget about handicap accessibility.

So bring your walking shoes, and prepare to work up a sweat… especially if you’re visiting in the summer. (Because this is Italy’s south, it can be relatively hot even through the end of September).

You have been warned!

7. Even though no train to Matera comes up on the Trenitalia website, you don’t need a car or bus to get there

The train station in Bari with trains to Matera

This is something that even seasoned Italy travelers don’t realize: Matera is connected by train to Italy’s other towns!

Confusion comes in because if you go to the Trenitalia website and plug in, say, “Rome” to “Matera,” no solutions come up. But that’s not because there isn’t a train station here. (There is!). It’s because it’s not on the national rail system.

Instead, if you want to travel by train, the easiest way is to first get to Bari (which is connected to the national system, so you can look up times and prices on the Trenitalia site; it’s a 4-hour train ride from Rome to Bari). Then go to the regional train site, Ferrovie Appulo Lucane, putting in “Bari Centrale” as your starting point and “Matera Centrale” as your endpoint. A number of solutions pop up; the ride takes between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1.5 hours, and the price is nominal (something like 2 euros). From the train station, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the sassi of Matera.

Note that the trains to Matera do not leave from the main part of the Bari Centrale station, but from a smaller station just outside the main one. When you walk outside onto the piazza outside the station, just look to your left, and you should see a building with the words “Ferrovie Appulo Lucane.” That’s where you want to go.

Because this is a smaller train service, on holidays and Sundays, it might not run. In that case, there’s a bus from Bari to Matera; just ask at the station.

There are also buses to Matera from Rome, Ancona, Florence, and Milan—but in general, we’ve found the train is the fastest, cheapest way to get there.

by Walks of Italy

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121 responses to “Matera, Italy: 7 Tips You Need to Know”

  1. deanna ronsani says:

    This piece on Matera, was the most interesting I’ve in a long time!

    • Rita Osborn says:

      We are going to Matera in April 2014. We will be flying into Bari from London on April 17, and I have been trying to buy train tickets on the train from Bari to Matera, but can’t seem to make that happen. I can get the schedule of trains, but can’t seem to find a way to buy them on line. Do I need them in advance of arriving in Bari?

      • Hi Rita,
        Don’t worry about it until you arrive—you can’t buy the tickets online in advance, but easily can buy them when you get to Bari, at the desk right at the train station for trains to Matera (which is just around the corner from Bari’s main train station). Let us know if we can help with anything else!

        • Leslie says:

          Hi, we are having a terrible time trying to figure out how to get from Matera to Salerno around mid-morning. I know that Grassani has a bus at 7 and 14 to Ferrandina and Potenza. Is there another option to get to the train station.

    • Odette Portelli Taliana says:

      I have been to matera 3 times, the first time i went was in 1975 when i formed part of a group of maltese youths who took part in a work camp at the Sassi. We stayed in the sassi 7 it was the most amazing experience of my life, in those days the sassi was mostly unhibited, many people had left the sassi to go to modern dwellings in the new part of matera, Second time i was there in 1988 & people were going back to the sassi & restoring the houses. Last time I was there in 2012 & the sassi now are amazing! Several hotels &restaurants but very tastefully restored . Sassi of matera are alive! Awesome place ! I really love it & hope to visit again in the winter especially during Christmas as it would look like a live crib!

  2. Alicia says:

    THANK YOU for this! I’m planning a trip there in May and this has come in so handy! PS-Expect me to sign up for some walking tours!

  3. Carlo Magni says:

    Excellent tips.
    Especially I appreciated how you explained the situation of transports to and from Matera.

    Thanks for your kind words about my town 🙂

  4. Doreen says:

    Is there a Catholic Church that offers mass in or near Matera, Italy?

  5. Bernie Clark says:

    Thanks for the information, especially how to get from Rome to Matera. Now, do you have any suggestions on how to get from Matera to Messina?

    • Hi Bernie,
      Drive! 😉 Unfortunately, that’s your fastest option. Otherwise, you’d have to take the local train to Altamura; switch to the train to Villa San Giovanni (a 9-hour ride); and then take the 20-minute ferry to Messina. We wish we had happier news for you, public transport-wise… unfortunately, the farther south you get in Italy, the tougher it is to get around on public transport. (Or at least the slower it is!). Let us know what you decide!

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I am doing loads of research in Italy and of course have to scan your site inside and out. We plan to visit for the month of July. I know it is high season, but kids are out of school in Spain end of June. We are trying to come up with our “driving” plan, so this looks like a must do. I think we are going to ferry over from Barcelona, drive south and then North and back to Spain via France. 🙂 Love it!

  7. arlene mccoy says:

    Excellent description of matera my many trips to Italy negated matera. I have been to Maratea and found Bascilicata region enchanting. I will be spending the month of August in Rome and I’m wondering if the heat and stairs would be too grueling in the heat. I am a senior in good health but believe in some caution. Love to hear your thoughts — keep writing, you’re good. Thanks, Arlene

    • Hi Arlene,
      Rome is definitely very hot in August—in the 80s and 90s. So it depends on what you’re comfortable with. No matter what, though, just make sure you drink a lot of water, and that your B&B, hotel or apartment has air conditioning!
      Let us know if we can help with anything else, and thank you for your kind words!

  8. Masutane says:

    The information here is very helpful. Thanks, atleast now I know more or less what to expect when I arrive in Matera in less than a week. This will be my first visit and the historic background sounds very exciting

  9. Allison says:

    Hi there,

    I am planning my honeymoon for next April. We will be hitting Paris first, but then will be heading to Italy. I want to visit Matera and am trying to figure out the best way to get there from Paris. What do you suggest?


    • Hi Allison,
      That sounds like a lovely honeymoon! Unfortunately, from Paris, Matera isn’t too easy to get to (it’s not even that fast or easy to get to from other parts of Italy!). We’d recommend taking a flight from Paris to Bari, if you can, and taking the train to Matera from there. Of course, your other option is to turn it into more of an Italy, rather than just Matera, trip, if you have more time to play with. In that case, you could fly from Paris to Rome or Naples, spend a day or two sightseeing in one of those cities, and then head on to Matera.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

    • Esther says:

      Hi Alison

      If you would like to stay in a romantic Masseria for your honeymoon then please do check out this place. It’s the perfect venue and can be booked fully hosted or self catered.

  10. Graeme Casey says:

    Be aware when travelling by train that the whole train does not go to Matera. Only the first two carriages go all the way. The other carriages get dropped off at two stops along the way.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for the information on your website. I will be staying here for a couple of nights in early October and am looking forward to it more than ever because of your description. The comments were quite helpful, also.

  12. Karen Adamthwaite says:

    Thank you so much for your Matera tips, so very much appreciated and now I know I have made the right decision. We have booked to be there in May. What is the weather like? We will be flying from Rome to Bari (stay 2 nights) and then the train. Other than that we would arrive from Rome and then straight to Matera. Still undecided. Do you think we should stay in Bari for 2 nights to a climatize ourselves, we are in our late 50s to early 60s?

    Thanks for the info.


    • Hi Karen,
      Lovely idea! In May, Matera will be beautiful—warm, but most likely not too hot. Staying in Bari for a night is a nice idea, as there are some wonderful things to explore in the town’s historic center, but we’d recommend heading to Matera the next day; you don’t really need more than a day in Bari, unless you’re planning to do day trips to other parts of Puglia.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  13. Jeff says:

    I add my thanks for this article as well. I’m visiting Matera for a few days next spring. After flying to Bari (from Catania) I may want to have a driver/taxi take me to Matera, rather than schlepping to the train station, etc. Do you have any idea how much I should expect to pay? And if you have any recommendations for drivers, that would be wonderful. Thanks!

    • Hi Jeff,
      We’re forwarding your comment to someone in our Walks of Italy office to get back to you with an estimate for how much one of our drivers would cost. Just so you’re prepared, though, private drivers can be quite expensive in Italy, especially in the more off-the-beaten-path spots like Bari and Matera, because of the cost of gas, getting to the point of origin, etc. However, expect someone to be in touch with you soon!

      Let us know if we can help with anything else, and enjoy Matera!

  14. anne chung says:

    The year after I saw ‘the passion of the Christ’ I went to Matera, stayed in a sassi hotel and was so awed by the place. It is amazing. Like you said, we took the train from Rome to Bari and then from Bari took the little train to Matera (new town) and then walked down the valley to the sassi area.


    Hello, it was wonderful to read all your information. We stayed in Matera for 3 days last year in August 2012 and found it so beautiful. The apartment we stayed was built into the back of a rock mountain and and was so interesting to see how this wonderful evolved from the natural beauty of the area. I took many photos of the town and have them all mounted on my wall. At the first little café we entered we found out the history of the Mel Gibson movie and we were asked if we knew him since we were from Australia. Unfortunately not. It is wonderful to know that there are people like you to help those interested in visiting but don’t know where to start. Keep up the good work and I am sure we will visit Matera again very soon.

  16. Gina says:

    I am planning to visit Matera in early September. I would also like to visit Irsina, the hometown of my grandparents to do genealogy research. (I have my grandmother’s baptism certificate and was hoping the church could provide me with additional information about my family.) I am unable to find lodging in Irsina and was wondering, should I just stay longer in Matera? Is their a bus that goes between the 2 towns? Are translators readily available? Recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

  17. Michele says:

    We will be traveling to Matera this October after a cruise out of Bari. Your comments are very interesting and we are looking forward to this experience. What is the weather like in mid October? Thank you.

  18. Odette Portelli Taliana says:

    Matera is such an awesome place! The first time i went there was in 1975 got three weeks, returned again in 1988, & went again in 2013! Saw great improvment in the Sassi area, may restaurants 7 beautiful hotels! Hope to return again next year!

  19. Patty says:

    Hi, My group of 7 will be staying in Puglia in mid October, with a side trip to Amalfi before flying home out of Naples. We plan to visit Matera for a day trip from our house near Alberobello. How long would the drive be? Do you recommend a tour of the city to best appreciate it’s history and what would be an average cost of a tour for a couple of hours?
    Thank you for any information you can provide. Best Regards, Patty

    • Hi Patty,
      We’re happy to help! Puglia in October will be beautiful. From Alberobello, it takes a little over an hour to drive to Matera.

      Unfortunately, we don’t yet have any guide contacts in Matera, but yes, getting a tour in general is (we think) a great way to get a real feel for a place. We’d recommend you look up some private guides in Matera using Tripadvisor or a similar site 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, and let us know if we can help with anything else!

  20. Rachel says:

    I’m heading to Matera in a few months. Hope my knees will hold up! Do you know if there is a Sunday market or which days are market days? And I do not speak Italian… How common are English speakers? Or French? Many thanks for any info!! (grazie!)

    • Hi Rachel,
      We’re happy to help! There appears to be an open-air market on Saturdays in Matera, as well as an antiques market in Piazza Vittorio Veneto every first Sunday and third weekend of the month. However, do double-check with your hotel receptionist or B&B owner as these things can change! Don’t worry about not speaking Italian; while a little Italian is always much appreciated by locals and can go a long way, in most restaurants and certainly in hotels in the center, people will be able to communicate well enough with you in English.
      Let us know if we can do anything else!

  21. gretchen says:

    how do you get from matera to savalletri? thankks for the info on getting there from rome…very helpful…also, how much time should you spend in matera? is 1 or 2 days enough?

  22. Hubertes says:


    I found your website, while planning a walking week around Bari and eventually travel to Napoli.
    Are there interesting walking routes around the region? And is there a bus or train connection to Napoli? Thank you in advance for your help.

  23. Heliane M Cortines says:

    My husband, myself, our daughter and my sister, we’re brazilians and very passionate about Italy.
    This time, we will in May 2014.
    We intend to stay in Rome and from there go to Sorrento, Capri, Ischia and Pompei.
    After reading the blog, we were delighted, and decided to go to Matera.
    We are thinking of renting a car from Napoli and do first Matera and then to go to the Amalfi Coast.
    Is it easy to get to and return from Matera to Napoli?
    Is there Matera’s guides (in cars or buses), since I have difficulty to walk grand staircases? Thank you.Sorry my english.Heliane

    • Hi Heliane,
      We’re happy to help! It sounds like you have a lovely trip planned. From Matera to Napoli is about a 3-hour drive. We recommend renting a GPS along with the car to make sure you don’t get lost!

      Unfortunately, bus and car tours of Matera aren’t available, as the heart of the historic center is pedestrian-only.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else.

  24. Jackie says:

    Hi, great description of Matera! Do you think going in December would be too cold? Also, we’d like to bring our dog–do you think Matera is dog friendly? Thanks!

    • Hi Jackie,
      December will be chilly, but because Matera is in southern Italy, it’ll be relatively mild compared, at least, to Florence, Milan or northern Italy! Plus, it’ll be very atmospheric over the holidays. Whether Matera is dog-friendly really depends on if the accommodation you’re staying at there is dog-friendly. If you’re just day-tripping, though, your dog should be fine (just make sure of course to pick up after him or her). Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  25. Alvaro says:

    Hello friends of Walks of Italy! I am Alvaro, writing from Mexico City. My wife and I are attending a friend’s wedding in Siena on May 30th. We have to be in Berlin on June 6th. Therefore, we have six nights, from May 31st through June 5th to travel around Italy, before we catch a flight to Berlin on June 6th preferably from Rome. We’ve already traveled in the north (Tuscany, Venice, Milan, etc.) We really wish to visit the south, for example Matera and other places nearby like the Amalfi Coast. We have a couple of questions on which we would greatly appreciate your input:
    1. Are six nights enough time to take a road trip starting in Florence (not staying there, just picking up the car on May 31st), heading all the way down to Matera or another city in Basilicata or Puglia, spending two or three nights, then spending two or three nights somewhere in another city you can recommend in Basilicata or Puglia, or even in one of the cities of the Amalfi Coast, and finishing in Rome just to catch the Berlin flight?
    2. In your blog and responses to several guys, I’ve read that you highly recommend taking the train from Rome or Florence down to Bari or Matera rather than driving a car. What is the reason for this? Travel time? Costs? Difficult to get to places driving?
    Thank you so much in advance for your help.
    Best regards, Alvaro

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hello, Alvaro! We think six days would be enough time to drive from Florence to Matera, we we would also recommend Lecce in Puglia or Salerno in the Amalfi coast for the second leg of the trip. We do usually recommend traveling by train as it generally costs less than renting a car (rental fees and gas prices are quite high) and takes longer to reach your destination. If you would like to drive, check out our 6 Tips to Know Before You Drive in Italy for helpful info!

  26. Lois Kost says:

    My grandfather and his brother were named Matera and came from Italy. Could it be possible the immigration people on Ellis Island used their point of origin as their last name? There is no one, unfortunately left to ask. I’m just curious

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Lois, many Italian last names are also names of cities, so it could be possible that his last name really was Matera. Do not hesitate to let us know if we can help you with anything else!

  27. jasong says:

    This place is top of my bucket list. But if I ever make it to Rome, I want to make the trip over to the Sassi in a 1960’s/1970s Bmw 2002. So you’ll need to arrange a rental for us.. 😉

  28. Louise says:


    What an excellent thread! Thank you everyone! Im going to Matera in mid march this year with my boyfriend and neither of us drive so train information is very useful to read about! Does anyone know how I would get from Matera to Naples? Is it a case of going back to Bari and travelling from there?



    • Walks of Italy says:

      Thank you, Louise! We recommend getting from Matera to Naples via bus (that stops in Potenza) as it is the fastest route. By train, you would have to head to Bari then take a connecting train to Naples. Buon viaggio!

  29. Ros Wilson says:

    How would I get from Matera to Positano

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Ros, to get from Matera to Positano the easiest options would be to rent a car or take the bus from Naples. You can reach Naples from Positano by bus or transferring in Sorrento. Do let us know if you have any further questions!

  30. Jody Heifner says:

    Three if us will be traveling by car around Southern Italy in September 2014. Material is one of our planned stops. What us the parking situation? Are there designated parking areas close to the old city center?
    Thanks, Jody.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Jody, there are many parking garages and free parking lots in and around the city center. Do let us know if we can help you with any other aspects of your trip to Matera!

  31. Jody Heifner says:

    I see that autocorrect changed Matera to material! Sorry!

  32. Cecilia says:

    Thank you for such detailed information. I am leading a group of 12 senior citizens. Half of them have some difficulty walking. They want to go to Matera, but it seems like it is not a good idea for this specific group. Any recommendations? We will be coming from Positano.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao! We don’t think Matera would be the best place to visit if most of the visitors have difficulty walking because there are many hills and uneven streets. Have you considered a day in the city of Naples, also considering its close proximity to Positano?

  33. Sam says:

    Hi we are going to Bari (on cruise) and we would like to visit Matera. We will only be there for 5 hours arriving at 1pm .
    Do you think it is possible to do the trip to Matera considering we are arriving in siesta time and the hire car businesses will not be open (except for the airport)?
    Would the traffic be busy getting back to the port around 5pm?
    Thanks in advance, ciao.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Sam, we think that it may be a bit rushed as it takes over an hour just to get from Bari to Matera and you have a relatively small time frame to visit the town. Traffic shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but you should definitely give yourself enough time to catch the boat. If you are set on visiting Matera, we would recommend organizing a taxi prior to your trip to save time when landing. Let us know if you have any questions!

  34. Ingrid Little says:

    Great thread on Matera. But can’t decide to stay a night in Matera or take the train from Bari (where we are staying a few days) and do a day trip. We will be in this region around 29th/30th December 2014

    Also… if we did stay in Matera one night, what is the easiest public transport option to get to Martina Franca?…. back to Bari by train and then to Martina Franca or bus to the coast and pick up another bus to Martina Franca. Cheers Ing55

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Depending on how much time you have in Bari, we think an overnight trip to Matera would work best to really get a feel for the town and explore. The best way to get to Martina Franca would be to to take the bus from Mater and then a train to Bari. Let us know if you have any questions!

  35. Mary says:

    Salerno to Matera
    I will be visiting Salerno this summer for a week and would like to go to Matera by public transportation.
    What are my options and which option is the best?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Mary! We recommend getting from Salerno to Matera via bus as it is the fastest route. You will get off at the Ferrandina stop and take a SITA bus to Matera. By train, you would have to head to Naples then take a connecting train from Bari to Matera. Buon viaggio and let us know if you have any questions 🙂

  36. Kim says:

    Hello and thank you for the valuable information you provide. In June I will be staying in Bari for 5 days and plan to do a couple of day trips before heading by train to Matera for 2 days and then perhaps Leece. What would be your recommendation for some day trips out of Bari? I plan on spending 2 weeks in Puglia, exploring the region at a relaxing pace (using public transport) and would greatly appreciate your advice.
    Many thanks

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Kim! Some great day trips from Bari include Matera, Lecce, any of the Salento beach areas (we love Gallipoli and Otranto), Trani and Alberobello to explore the characteristic trulli houses. Let us know if you have any questions!

  37. Hi!
    I am part of a brazilian jazz sextet and we will participate in a Music Festival called Spirit World in Matera between July and August 2014. We’ll arrive by plane at the airport in Bari 30.07.2014 and, as we are six people with suitcases and musical instruments, would whether it is feasible to catch a train to Matera or we would have to contact a van?
    We are looking to be safe and not spend so much money in transfers.
    Thank you!
    All the best,

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Leandro, you can definitely catch a train to Matera, but you may want to consider arranging a private transfer since you will have musical instruments and luggage. We would suggest booking the transfer ahead of time to save money on the trip. Do let us know if you have any questions!

    • Rafael says:

      Take the train is safe, fast and cheap

  38. Lisa says:

    This is beyond helpful with our impending June 2014 trip just around the corner. We had no idea there was a smaller train that connects the two cities. Thank you for the wonderful article!

  39. Clint says:

    Thank you for your tips! We are in Matera now and loving it. You are right that the train to Bari does not run on Sundays, so we will take the FAL bus to Bari, but can’t tell where it drops off (Mater Dei?). Is it anywhere near the Central train station? Hoping to catch a train to Lecce …

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Clint! Apologizes for the delayed response. We’d love to hear your experience on the FAL bus! If you haven’t left yet, we’d recommend taking the bus if possible to Bari via Capruzzi which is right behind the Central Station. If that is not possible, you can take the bus to the Via Turati Mater Dei stop and take the 21 bus to Piazza Aldo Moro.

  40. Sarah says:

    All of the information here is so helpful! Thank you! I am planning on visiting Matera in a few weeks via Bari. Arriving on the Saturday and staying overnight. My concern is regarding public transport on the Sunday and heading to Salerno – can we rely on the connecting buses and trains operating? Or would it be safer to have two nights in Matera….

    Any advice please?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Sarah, transportation is usually quite limited on Sundays in Matera so we would definitely recommend playing it safe and staying two nights in Matera. Let us know if you have any questions!

  41. Corinna says:

    Unfortunately I have never been to Matera but it is definitely on my wish list.
    Basilicata is one of those regions which remains definitely off the ebaten paths …also the short coastline is worth a visit.

  42. Sherry says:

    Your article is such a great help – thank you so much!
    I plan to visit Matera from Siena in Oct, and am considering taking the Marozzi bus.
    Based on their website, the bus departs at 23.59 from Siena and arrives at Matera at 08.10 the next morning.
    My plan is to depart Siena on 31st Oct and arrive at Matera on 1st Nov – which happens to be All Saints Day.
    My concern is whether the bus will be running for the above timing as it coincides with a national holiday? The website allows for the above booking but I am still a little apprehensive (sent them an email via their website but it went unreplied…).

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you 🙂

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Sherry! We suggest giving them a call just to be sure at +39 06.44249519. Let us know if you have any questions!

  43. Jane says:

    Hi, great article on Matera, and the comments have provided a wealth of information.

    We would like to spend Christmas in Matera and there is availability in the hotel of our choice…but we’re wondering whether everything is likely to be closed for the holidays?

    Would trains be running from Bari to Matera on 23rd December and returning back to Bari on 30th December?

    Are any of the restaurants in Matera likely to be open on Christmas Day for lunch?

    Is there a possibility that we’d find ourselves wandering like lost souls around a closed town on Christmas Day looking for something to do and somewhere to eat?

    We always go to Rome (12 times!) and this is the first time we’ve ever stayed in Southern Italy…is there enough to do in Matera to warrant a week long trip, especially over Christmas week?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Jane! While Christmas isn’t exactly peak season in Matera, there will still be some tourists and lots of locals around. Trains should be running on their normal schedule both on 23 December and 30 December and there should be some restaurants open for a Christmas lunch. We’d suggest getting in touch with your hotel beforehand to make reservations for lunch as many restaurants do not publish opening hours and holidays on their websites. Buon viaggio and let us know if you have any questions!

  44. sam says:

    Hello, do you know if there is a place in Matera to leave luggage during a day trip?


  45. Pam King says:

    We are planning a trip to Matera in April 2015. We are staying in Naples, and plan to return to Naples. How do we get there by train or bus, as fast as possible, so that we have lots of time in Matera?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Pam,

      You can take the number 59 bus from Naples to Matera, though it is roughly a 4 hours bus ride. Or, you can take the train from Napoli Centrale to Matera for a roughly 4 hour and 40 minute train ride, though it will most likely be more comfortable. This website might help for further information. Have a great trip!

  46. Jeje says:

    I love your explanation and all suggestions in comments section!! Question: is there a train from Sassi going to Sorrento? We are planning to travel by train from Venice to Bari- Alberobello – Sassi di Matera, thank you to your suggestions with a train to the Matera Centrale!! But our next destination is Sorrento.. We were debating to take a car in Bari and drive, but when i’m reading your comments, it looks like to park a car in Sassi di Matera will be tough. If there is a train to Sorrento directly what is a station name? Can you suggest where we could leave luggage for a day at a train station or if there are a special deals at hotels or churches? Is it safe to leave luggages locked in car for a day with street parking?
    Thank you a lot in advance!!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Jeje,

      There seems to be no direct links from Matera to Sorrento either by train or bus. You could take a bus from Matera to Ferrandina, then take the train to Napoli then head back down to Sorrento (like this). There is, however, a direct bus route from Salerno to Matera, from which you could take a lovely drive/ride along the Amalfi Coast to Sorrento, or decide to make Salerno your base instead! If you’re short on time, we have plenty of Amalfi Coast tours here to choose from to help you best utilize your time! As for your luggage, most train stations have a paid luggage drop off. We recommend not leaving your luggage in the car unless it’s in the trunk and out of sight, just in case. Have a great trip!

  47. Petri says:

    Excellent tips. Any suggestions for reasonably priced accommodation and some examples of your trips?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Petri,

      Thank you, we’re glad we could help. Unfortunately, we’re not in the accommodation business but we often use sites such as to find affordable accommodation during our travels.

  48. Garret says:

    Thanks for you very helpful and fun to read blog. I am considering traveling to Materra late January 2016. What’s the weather like at that time? I’m planing on taking the bus from Naples and spending a night in Materra. What other cities nearby or along the way should I consider visiting. Thanks for any information you can provide.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Thank you Garret, we’re glad you like it! The weather in Matera is reasonably comfortable year-round, but January is still the coolest month of the year. Average temperatures are around the low to mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit. After seeing the city center, you’ll for sure want to visit the Sassi di Matera, cave houses dug into the limestone rocks just outside of the city. You could also consider taking a train an hour away to Alberobello, in Puglia, for another world-class historical experience!

  49. Fiona says:

    hi, planning to visit Matera this week by car..can you please give me details of free parking, or parking costs? I am travelling alone and trying to get a heads up of which streets to put in my gps for parking etc to relieve some of the pressure of driving abroad! 🙂

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Fiona,

      We don’t know of individual parking lots and their costs throughout Italy, but don’t worry, you’re sure to find one! Look out for the square blue sign with a big white P on it, that indicates a parking lot. There, you’ll likely pay by the hour unless otherwise indicated. Finding a free spot in city centers or high tourist zones can be more difficult at times, but look out for white spots on the sides of roads (the white lines indicate a free spot), blue spots (the blue lines are paid by the hour) or parking lots a bit outside of the city center and you will be absolutely fine! Have a great trip!

  50. rg bunyi says:

    Hi! We are planning to go to Matera this coming May 2016. Are there any good routes from Amalfi to Matera? We want the travel time to be as short as possible as we are only staying 1 night in Matera.

    Thank you!

  51. Butch Garcia says:

    We are planning a trip to the Puglia region and want to know how many days you suggest we stay in Matera to see it all. We are hikers and foodies.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Butch,

      That depends on what else you’re planning on seeing in Italy. You could, of course, stay for 24 hours or months! Realistically, you’d need at least two days in Matera, considering it’s a bit out of the way to get to. While you’re there, you could also consider visiting Alberobello, which is relatively nearby. Have a great trip!

  52. Chen Xu says:

    Hi, the interesting posts drew our attention to this region. My wife and I plan to stay 3 nights around New Year’s Day 2016 in Alberobello, then going to Matera for 2 nights, then going to Rome. Could you please give any suggestions about the transportation from Alberobello to Matera, then from Matera to Rome?

    Thank you very much!


    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Chen,

      We’re gad our posts have inspired you! Alberobello and Matera are wonderful cities to visit. Unfortunately, public transportation between the two cities is a little scarce. This site might help you to compare your various options. The quickest option is simply to rent a car and drive!

  53. Natasha M. says:

    Hi…I am considering traveling with a group and their plan is for 5 nights in Matera…is that a long time? I know there are 2 or 3 side trips planned…but seems that all your posts are one or two days is enough…is it the type of town where you can just sit in the square and have a caffe and people watch? I like to just wander around towns…so just wondering how wanderable if I have two free days…

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Natasha,

      Matera is quite a small town, but with day trips planned we think it’s a great opportunity for you to soak in the small town atmosphere in Italy. We also suggest to tour Alberobello for one of your day trips!

      • Natasha M. says:

        Thank you…. I did a bike trip through Puglia and we stopped in Alberobello…but would happily do so again..and yes…I am very happy just wandering throughout small towns…having un caffe … and sitting… very much looking forward to it.

  54. Amanda says:

    Thanks for the great article! Will be going to Matera the last week of March 2016 – any tips on what the weather will be like, for packing?
    Also, are there any special dishes of Matera to be aware of to try? Thank you.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Here it looks like the weather will be in the mid-50s, which is typical for that time of year. We suggest bringing pants and a spring jacket, but with some layers that you can add underneath for the morning and night. As for the food, the Basilicata section in this article on Italy’s regional food will give you a starting point!

  55. Rose says:



  56. Debbie Scott says:

    My mothers family immigrated to the us from matera in the 40’s. I am coming to Italy in October and will be in Rome. I would love to see where my family came from. How far from Rome?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Debbie,

      Wonderful! By train it takes about 6 hours to get to Matera from Rome. This website will show you all your different options in getting there from Rome. Have a great trip!

  57. Natasha M. says:

    Just spent 5 days in Matera…..wonderful and extremely interesting history…a must see is the exhibit by Carlo Levi…who brought attention to the area when he was exiled there and wrote the book Christ stopped at Eboli… its a permanent exhibit. I took the train there from Bari. Make sure you seat yourself in the foremost car as it separates off at some point and only that single car goes to Matera. It’s a 10 minute walk into the town center…We also took a side trip to Craco which I thought was incredibly beautiful in its unfortunate decay.

    • Stefanie says:

      I am currently planning my trip to Matera… very useful information about the train connections as I don’t want to rent a car. @Natasha M.: Thank you for mentioning the Carlo Levi exhibition! ever since I read the book and watched the movie I have been wanting to visit Matera.

  58. I am planning to visit Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Positano, Matera and Alberobello. And, then, go south to Maratea and Cosenza. I don’t want to drive. There are not guided tours that will specifically visit all these places. Any suggestions? I deeply appreciate it. I plan to fly to Naples, from US.

  59. Charmaine says:


    Could you confirm if there are trains running on a Sunday from Bari to Matera? On the Trainline website there are trains listed. But many comments on forums say otherwise. Thank you so much!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Charmaine,

      We have no reason to think that there wouldn’t be trains running on a Sunday, unless of course it’s a major holiday, in which case there may be fewer trains but not stopped altogether.

  60. Mary says:

    Hi there, we are going to Matera next week and I am super excited about our trip. I have read nothing but positive reviews about this amazing place. We will be privileged to stay in a hotel in the sassi. We fly into Bari and stay overnight, spending a few hours there exploring and then want to catch a bus to Matera in the afternoon on Friday. What I cannot find is confirmation of buses leaving from Bari train station, they info seems to suggest they leave from the airport but I assume they must also pick up from the station? Can you confirm and let us have the name of the company? Thanks

  61. Debbie says:

    I took the train… just make sure you get in the right carrozza as the train splits at some point and one car goes on to Matera and one to some other town !

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