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I walked up the cobble-stoned road towards the Cathedral square. Ahead of me, I could see the towering Cathedral, cloaked in the warm, pinkish glow of the setting sun. Several people stood at the edge of the road, staring ahead in silence. Curious, I stopped to look at what they were staring at. As soon as my mind could register what I was seeing, I gasped. My audible reaction was met with smiles by the others standing there. In front of me was one of the most extraordinary towns I’ve ever laid my eyes on: Matera.

This ancient city in the south of Italy just blew my mind!

Italy excels in extraordinary cities and towns – and I’ve visited many of them – but Matera surely belongs in the upper echelons of the ‘most extraordinary cities’ list. Located in the region of Basilicata (map), wedged between the ‘heel’ and the ‘foot’ of southern Italy, Matera is also one of the oldest continuously-inhabited human settlements in the world, with a history that goes back (perhaps) 7,000 years! The cityscape is somewhat ‘Biblical’ and strolling around its cobblestone streets is like taking a step back in time. Despite its age, or maybe because of it, there are many things to do and see in Matera, making any visit a wondrous experience.

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