Sixty years is the time interval between Cristo si è fermato a Eboli, the book written by Carlo Levi to tell the poverty conditions of Southern Italy and La Passione di Cristo, the first film directed by Mel Gibson, which has used the Sassi scenario as an extraordinary film set. These were the years of a radical transformation of the town. The poor and derelict Matera of the past has become one of the most fascinating destinations in Europe. An image corroborated in 1993 by the inclusion of the Sassi in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and the subsequent nomination of Matera as European Capital of the Culture for 2019. No other place in the world allows visitors to be immersed in a magic atmosphere of prehistorical events and medieval religiousness. The “Gravina di Matera”( Matera’s Ravine), in front of the town, is the first system of canyons extending to Gravina di Puglia, Laterza and Taranto. All around the town and the ravine, the Murgia plateau.
A visit to the Ridola Museum will help to discover the footsteps left by people living in the ravine from the prehistoric times to the Iron Age. Of minor importance during the centuries of the Pax romana, Matera regains prestige in the early medieval times, when the Murgia is a matter of conflict between Byzantines, Franks, Longobards, and Saracens. The ravines become shelter for monks coming from Cappadocia and Armenia and for the faithfuls to the Roman Church. Many man-made caves are used as homes and are occupied by people living in dignified poverty.
The degradation told by Carlo Levi is created after the unification of Italy, when the clashes between Piedmontese army and the brigands cause depopulation in the country and an increase of the urban population.The reclamation of the Sassi area was object of discussions in the post-war years, but it started only after the 1980 earthquake. Today, the visitors go from the modern town down to heart of the Caveoso and Barisano ,separated by the Civita rocky ridge where the cathedral rears up. Step after step, churches and chapels carved in the rock are discovered as San Nicola dei Greci, Madonna delle Virtù, San Pietro e Paolo, San Giorgio al Paradiso, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria de Idris, leading to the crypt of San Giovanni in Monterone. Some reclaimed Sassi have been converted into museums or exhibitions and collections of artistic works. The Caveoso area is dedicated to the MUSMA sculpture museum (Museo della Scultura Contemporanea di Matera). In the upper town, many other churches and a castle not yet completed welcome the visitors. Walking through Murgia Timone, a prehistoric village, small churches and rock-carved hermitages are encountered; the entire area is protected in a regional park.

Matera offers three parking areas for campers, located at Jazz Gattini, Masseria Radogna (GPS coordinates: 45.1851, 18.4629), Via dei Normanni in Parco Serra Venerdì (GPS coordinates: 40.66814, 16.5896) and Tenuta Lamacchia on the Appian Way (GPS coordinates: 40.3751, 16.357).