Sunday, January 23, 2011

Where is Nonno? - ¿ Dove e' Nonno? - Matera

Nonno is Ben's grandfather who lives in Italy. He is a guest blogger. Check out his "Where's Nonno?" series below or in our archive!

Nonno is a great photographer and travel guide!
Here is his new post about Matera, Italy!

Matera - "Sassi di Matera" (meaning "stones of Matera").

Matera is in the region of Basilicata, just next to Puglia.

People have been living in Matera for over 9,000 years. The first people lived in caves above a small river called the Gravina.


When they needed more places to live they would dig the rocks and build walls and roofs from the rock.

Pretty soon they had a city of stones built above the small stream.

There was no water,  electricity, or plumbing. The streets in some parts of the village often are located on the rooftops of other houses.

Because they had no water, they built their roofs so when it rained the water would drain to the edges and then go into special places in the caves called cisterns where they would store the water.

A Cistern in the Floor

They had no heat, so they would have their animals, donkeys and goats, sleep inside with them. The people did not have many things living in the Sassi did but they had clay to build pots and utensils.

They also used clay to make whistles called cucus. They painted and decorated them and the cucus became something special to have.

Just a few years ago the government forced the everyone to move from their cave houses because it was not healthy for people to continue living without the things they needed to stay clean. You may visit cave houses to see their sizes but they have been cleaned up for the tourists.


Living and Bedroom all in One

“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.”

The people are now trying to bring visitors and promote the Sassi with the aid of the government, UNESCO, and Hollywood movies. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels. Many tourists now visit the Sassi.

“In the Sassi caves is concealed the capital of the peasants,
its heart hidden in their ancient civilization.
Anyone who sees Matera cannot help but be awe-struck,
so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty.”
Carlo Levi

Would you rather live in a Cave or a Trullo?


  1. @ Nonno,

    I can't believe that people lived in caves thousand of years ago. The age of the caves are older than the pyramids of Giza. I think it was hard for people to live there because they didn't have plumbing, water, and electricity.


  2. Dear Nonno,

    Thank you for another wonderful informative post about your wonderful travels around Italy.

    I love reading all your wonderful adventures in Italy.
    You have become a wonderful reporter.
    When you write up a post I inform my mum and she too loves to hear about where you have been too.

    Great work Nonno.
    Yours sincerely,

  3. Dear Nonno,

    Wow that post is very cool! I can't believe that people lived in the caves for 9000 years. I would rather live in a trullie because it is more comfortable than living in a cave. I think it would be difficult to live without running water, light and heat, however, the view from the cave should be beautiful. I also found it intersting how they collected rain into cisterns, and the citizens of the city saved it for later.


  4. Dear Nonno,
    I really liked your post on the caves. I would rather live in a Truille than a cave because I would like to have lights, TV and water in my house. I would like to visit the caves and walk on the roads on the roofs sometime.
    Yours truly,

  5. Dear Ben I am glad you enjoyed the post about Matera. It is a very interesting place and one of these times when you visit us in Italy we will have to take a trip to that part of Italy.


  6. Dear Nicolas

    The caves are certainly very old. It was hard to live there, just think how far they had to carry water uphill or down.


  7. Dear AA
    Thank you for the complement. Pretty soon I will post about the village where we live in the very northern part of Italy.

    A presto.

  8. Ciao Miriam
    I am glad you liked hearing abut Matera. Soon I will have a post about the village where we live in very northern Italy. Just think that in Matera when they had no heat they would have the animals, sheeep, donkeys etc. sleep in the cave with them so it would be a bit warmer.
    A presto - Nonno

  9. Dear Mrs. Yollis' Class,

    We really liked the houses and the designs on them. My friend wants to go there, but I don't want to go out of the state. We both want to go to the beach.

    Chance, a 49'er

  10. Dear Nonno,

    You are an excellent guest blogger! I love all of the pictures and the captions. You've inspired me to invite a guest blogger to our site! Thanks for the great introduction to guest blogging.

    I would prefer a trullo, since it seems more like an actual house!

    Mrs. Kistler, a 49'er


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