If you go to Matera, you will walking through small lanes, alleyways and stairway. You will feel like being on the set of a biblical movie, because of the landscape, but it’s not: it’s reality, actually, and people live there for real.
Carved out of a rock, the old part of the city has ancient origin as far as the Palaeolithic era, even if the architecture had been renewed by later generations.
Think about living in these cave-homes, called sassi in Italian: you are not by your own, but you live close to your neighborhoods, forming different groupings.
Each group has its own small common area, used as family residences, and they all work together to have satisfactions and pride. It happens that you may have chickens and eggs, while another member has cows and another one has pigs.
Working together you are able to eat everything. Of course you have your own independence, since each sasso, which is the singular for sassi is made for a small number of families.
That’s a particular way of living life, of course, but keep in mind that until probably 50 or 60 years ago, Italian people living in Matera had this life for real.
Visiting the sassi, you will be able to see not only the cave-houses, but also the cave- churches, having each one a different distict style. Unfortunately, when the town began to deteriorate, because it is really old, many of the churches were converted into homes for widows with no family, nuns, homeless and animals too. All together, since there were no many safe places where to stay.
Nowadays some of these churches are open to public, but you have to check the timetable, since it’s not the same for all. Others, the oldest one having a long, old and beautiful history, are only available to public if they are with a licensed guide.