Matera, the good and the beautiful

Delicious discoveries in the città dei sassi, what with fun and enjoyable restaurants and shops

by Niccolò Vecchia
The city in Basilicata, the next European Capital
The city in Basilicata, the next European Capital of Culture in 2019, offers more than breath-taking panoramas: here’s a selection of some of the most delicious and useful places

As we said a few days ago, on the occasion of Identità Golose’s participation in the first edition in Matera of the Cultural Festival of Culinary Culture, this town is becoming more and more lively, even in terms of gastronomy. There are many shops and restaurants opening or getting renovated in view of 2019, when Matera will be European Capital of Culture, so as to welcome in the best possible way the large number of tourists who will also enjoy a thrillingly beautiful city.

A few days in Matera are enough to discover many interesting places, both with regards to hospitality, and to everything that regards wine and food pleasures: from shops to traditional taverns to refined restaurants. Without expecting to give a truly complete view of the city’s offer, we tried to list some of the most interesting places we noticed.

Le grotte della civita

Le grotte della civita

We’ll start from accommodation, which in the “città dei sassi” can offer very elegant interpretations of what is first of all an extraordinary historic heritage, representing the memories of an era that is not so distant, yet was sad, tarnished and dark. In the “Sassi” neighbourhood, and in particular in the most scenic area, on the overhang of the Gravina creek, Sextantio – Le grotte della civita (+39.0835.332744) created a “diffused hotel” made of 18 grottos, beautifully preserved and renovated, so they could become luxurious accommodations with the most comfortable services, without any invasive intervention. The hotel inside Palazzo Gattini(+39.0835.334358) is more classic, but also beautiful and very elegant. It’s inside a historic estate transformed into a luxury hotel.

When in Matera, thoughts of course constantly go to bread, the ancient wealth of the place, which here has had one of the most shining representations in Italy. Of course it can be found everywhere in town. Among the many bakeries we can mention the one owned by the Perrone family, third generation of bakers, now run by Lucia. At Pane e Pace (Via Cererie, 49/e, +39.0835334138), on top of the bread made in the wood oven with re-milled durum wheat flour strictly from Basilicata and with mother yeast, one can also find taralli and many other baked specialties, both sweet and savoury.

Area 8

Area 8

You can find all sorts of products, but always 100% from Basilicata at La Latteria (Via Duni, 2, +39.0835.312058), the shop opened in 1945 by the Rizzi family. Emanuele, who’s been running it since 1997, added to the already well deserving work of selecting cured meat, cheese, and local wine that of a small tasting room where you can taste, among other things, the marvellous Salsiccia pezzente della montagna materana, a Slow Food Presidium, made with maiale nero lucano [black pigs from Basilicata] an indigenous breed that risked disappearing but is once again bred and protected since a few days ago.

Those who enjoy drinking, instead, can go to Area 8 (Via Casalnuovo, 15, +39.333.3369788) only a few metres away. This cocktail bar open until late at night is full of elegance and very contemporary, even though it is located in an old building and decorated with a style that shows the passion for vintage of founder Mikaela Bandini. Those passionate about craft beers will find their home, at least while in Matera, at Birrificio 79 (Via delle Beccherie, 54, +39.328.3587369), which “hand” crafts all the beers sold in the bar.

Nicola Popolizio

Nicola Popolizio

How about eating out? In Matera there’s plenty of taverns and restaurants. And while there are many “locals” that put visitors on guard and complain that the boom the city is enjoying also leads to the opening of places whose quality is not very high, there are many places we can consider a guarantee. For those looking for local cuisine, connected with the territory and tradition, but also modern and refined, one can recommend Osteria San Francesco (Via del Corso, 80, +39.338.2674924), where chef Nicola Morcinelli, with wife Valeria, has rediscovered the love for his hometown Matera after a long experience abroad. The Agnello delle Dolomiti lucane [lamb from the Dolomites of Basilicata] baked in the oven at low temperature is very good.

Nicola Popolizio, instead, opened a place in his hometown very recently. He had worked for many years beside Felice Lo Basso between Selva di Val Gardena and Milan, and is now the executive chef at Ego Gourmet (Via Tommaso Stigliani, 44., +39.392.9030963) a restaurant in which they try to focus on a cuisine full of research in a town that is not yet used to such an approach. On top of the gourmet offer, one should also mention a wine bar offering cocktails, wines, champagne, craft beers and bistro dishes. It will open again in a few days’ time, as soon as the renovations in the new place will end. The name is Osteria dei Sassi and it belongs to young and talented Leonardo Lacatena, whom we met and appreciated also within the programme of Cultural. The new place will be in Via Lucana 198 (+39.0835.1851857), once the location of Ristorante Il Borghese.



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