We left in brilliant sunshine and along roads lined with cherry trees and olive trees. Cherries were beginning to ripen and some looked ready for picking.
The first few pics were taken through the coach's window while we were moving.. but they give a taste of the countryside
and then arriving in Matera..
This is the Church of Purgatory - and the door and surrounds all decorated with skulls and skeletons... wonder who I thought of when I saw those?... OC perhaps :)
"Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the "Sassi di Matera". The Sassi originated in a prehistoric troglodytesettlement, and these dwellings are thought to be among the first ever human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are habitations dug into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Apulia. Many of them are really little more than caverns, and in some parts of the Sassi a street lies on top of another group of dwellings. The ancient town grew up on one slope of the rocky ravine created by a river that is now a small stream, and this ravine is known locally as "la Gravina". In the 1950s, the government of Italy used force to relocate most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city"
We went into the (click here for pictures Santa Lucia alle Malve church but no pictures were permitted
I'd seen several birds of prey circling with pigeons above the area but wasn't sure what they were.. the light was bad; and finally saw this information board.. they were Il Grillaio .. a small kestrel!!
Apparently Matera has one of the largest populations of the Il Grillaio... another area where they can be seen is Lecce.. somewhere I'm going later in the week.
dozens of swifts and swallows... the latter were nesting not far from where I took this picture
and then some lunch, a wander, and then the trip back to the hotel.
An amazing place to visit!!