Matera – Design from Italy

This post is unlike any of the others I have made. It is about the homes and the ancient  town of Matera. The town is in  region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. I was lucky enough to visit this fascinating place a few years back, whilst on a work trip for Natuzzi.

Approaching the town, realising that most of the dwellings are dug deep into the hillside. The “Sassi” or ancient Town was created almost 9000 years ago and many of the streets are often bulit on the rooftops of other Sassi’s.

Until the late 1980s the area was an area of poverty, since these houses were, and in most areas still are, mostly unlivable. However, Matera has now become more tourism-oriented, and has seen the re-birth of the ancient homes.

Partly this was due to the filming of the movie,  Passion of the Christ , which put the small town on the world stage.  Many of the Sassi  have been re furbished to have a new life as homes, Hotels and restaurants.

The approach to a Matera Hotel… carved deep into the hillside. The room I stayed in was small and extremely tall, a high cave, all stone walls and floors. A generous bed, desk and beautiful bathroom with bath at the back of the space.

Out of every window or doorway was a rustic view, worn sandstone or aged shutters and terracotta pots. A photographers dream.

Look at this Bathroom, I cant believe the luxury, in something with such history. Simple, yet so luxurious at the same time.

Here is an image of a living room and bedroom off to the left. I was told by the locals when I was there, that the process of “renovating” a Sassi is costly and can take some time due to the restrictions to ensure that the history of these dwellings is retained. Even so , on my walks around the charming stone roads, there were many projects at various stages of work.

These images show the variations in the design of the rooms.

Each room was unique and all had distinctive features.

I also love how they have accessorised the rooms very simply, the original stonework, archways and shapes are what define each room.

The restaurants in the local area around these homes and hotels are also dug deep into the side of the mountain, hidden amongst the narrow streets, all with fantastic atmosphere and unique interiors.

The approach to one of the Matera restaurants, above.

Next Post I will be back in the “real world” of modern design, but Matera is a place I wanted to share, it is very special and if you get the chance, please make a visit.




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