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The Sassi di Matera (meaning "stones of Matera") are prehistoric cave dwellings in the Italian city of Matera, Basilicata. Situated in the old town, they are composed of the Sasso Caveoso and the later Sasso Barisano.

History
Matera has gained international fame for its "Sassi". The Sassi originate from a prehistoric (troglodyte) settlement, and are suspected to be some of the first human settlements in Italy.

The Sassi are houses dug into the tufa rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Puglia. Many of these "houses" are really only caverns, and the streets in some parts of the Sassi often are located on the rooftops of other houses. The ancient town grew in height on one slope of the ravine created by a river that is now a small stream. The ravine is known locally as "la Gravina".

In the 1950s, the government of Italy forcefully relocated most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city. However, people continued to live in the Sassi, and according to the English Fodor's guide:
Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago.

Until the late 1980s this was considered an area of poverty, since these houses were, and in most areas still are, mostly unlivable. Current local administration, however, has become more tourism-oriented, and has promoted the re-generation of the Sassi with the aid of the European Union, the government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels. ...more

PP: Image created from 3 photo stitching.

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Viewed: 1850
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Additional Photos by Chris Kontokostas (chrkont) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 351 W: 282 N: 793] (4005)
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