The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

This is the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. The first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history. Matera is in the southern region of Basilicata.

The Sassi of Matera and their park are an outstanding example of a rock-cut settlement, adapted perfectly to its geomorphological setting and its ecosystem and exhibiting continuity over more than two millennia. They represent an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and land use showing the evolution of a culture that has maintained over time a harmonious relationship with its natural environment.

Italy Matera from Places We Go on Vimeo.

The Matera region has been inhabited by man since the Palaeolithic period. Permanent defended village settlements grew up after the last Ice Age, based on agriculture. Deforestation of the area led to serious erosion and created problems of water management. The gradual invasion of fields by garrigue and maquis led to a change from agriculture to pastoral transhumance. Matera’s development was due to its geological setting. A belt of soft tufa is located between 350 m and 400 m above the valley bed, and this also contains two natural depressions (grabialioni ); in consequence, it was here that the settlement grew up. The clay plateau above was reserved for agriculture and pastoralism.

Matera 09 from Jack on Vimeo.

The advent of better tools with the Metal Ages made it easier to dig into the soft calcareous tufa rocks exposed in the gravine (gorges or canyons) and there is evidence from the Bronze Age of the creation of underground cisterns and tombs, and in particular of underground dwellings opening out of a central space (jazzi ). The excavated tufa blocks were used for the construction of walls and towers. This process was easiest on the sides of ravines, where the softer strata of tufa were exposed. Greek colonization led to the introduction of higher technology and political structures, under the influence of the Pythagorean School. The earlier dispersed settlements coalesced into urban centres of government, under their own kings (i Re Pastori), leading eventually to the creation of true towns. The harsh landscape resulted in the growth of a spirit of sturdy independence which was resistant to successive waves of invaders after the Byzantine period. The area was also very attractive to monastic and utopian communities.

Matera from Vadócz Péter on Vimeo.

This structure remained intact until the 18th century. It was the expansion and interventions of the 19th and 20th centuries that rejected the ancient principle of land management based on water supply and drainage and spread to the clays of the plateau above.

The earliest house form was a simple cave in the tufa with a closing wall formed from the excavated blocks. This developed into a vaulted room (lamione ) built out into the open space, and was then available for considerable adaptation and extension. Groups of dwellings round a common courtyard evolved into the social structure of the vicinato, with shared facilities such as a cistern. In between the two sassi was established the fortified centre of the town (cività ), within which the cathedral was sited. Workshops and granaries were set up outside the cività, which was connected with the sassi by narrow lanes and steps. The water supply was highly organized, being collected on the plateau above and brought down by gravity for distribution to the community. As the town grew, more houses were excavated and built, climbing the hillside; the roofs of some houses often acted as streets for the houses above them. The houses became more grandiose, and terraces were built out in the Renaissance period for gardens.


Costiera Amalfitana – UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Côte amalfitaine, Костьера-Амальфиана – Амальфийское побережье, Costa Amalfitana

Côte amalfitaine

La bande littorale d’Amalfi est d’une grande beauté naturelle. Elle a été intensivement peuplée depuis le début du Moyen Âge. Elle comporte un certain nombre de villes telles qu’Amalfi et Ravello qui abritent des œuvres architecturales et artistiques particulièrement remarquables. Ses zones rurales témoignent de la faculté d’adaptation de ses habitants qui ont su tirer parti de la diversité du terrain pour le cultiver, depuis les vignobles et les vergers en terrasses sur les pentes basses, jusqu’aux grands pâturages des hautes terres.



Костьера-Амальфиана – Амальфийское побережье 

Амальфийское побережье, район удивительной красоты и природного разнообразия, был плотно заселен еще в раннем средневековье. Здесь расположено много городов, таких как Амальфи и Равелло, в которых имеются архитектурные и художественные произведения большого значения. Сельская местность демонстрирует изобретательность жителей в приемах землепользования, приспособленных к особенностям ландшафтов – это террасированные виноградники и сады на нижних частях склонов, и обширные пастбища на более возвышенных участках.

Costa Amalfitana

La faja litoral amalfitana es de una gran belleza y posee una rica biodiversidad natural. Intensamente poblada desde principios de la Edad Media, esta región costera comprende ciudades como Amalfi y Ravello, que albergan obras arquitectónicas y artísticas muy notables. El paisaje rural atestigua la capacidad de adaptación de los habitantes, que han sabido aprovechar la diversidad del terreno cultivando viñedos y huertos en terrazas construidas en las laderas bajas y conservando las tierras altas para vastos pastizales.

Costiera Amalfitana
La fascia costiera di Amalfi è di grande bellezza ed è ricca di biodiversità naturale. Densamente popolata dal Medioevo, questa regione costiera comprende città come Amalfi e Ravello, da un punto di vista architettonico e delle opere artistiche molto rilevanti. Il paesaggio rurale, testimonia la resilienza delle persone, che hanno approfittato della terra coltivando vigneti e frutteti su terrazze costruite sui pendii e praterie dei vasti altopiani.


Costiera Amalfitana – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

The Amalfi coast is an area of great physical beauty and natural diversity. It has been intensively settled by human communities since the early Middle Ages. There are a number of towns such as Amalfi and Ravello with architectural and artistic works of great significance. The rural areas show the versatility of the inhabitants in adapting their use of the land to the diverse nature of the terrain, which ranges from terraced vineyards and orchards on the lower slopes to wide upland pastures.



The Committee decided to inscribe this site on the basis of criteria (ii), (iv) and (v), considering that the Costiera Amalfitana is an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values resulting from its dramatic topography and historical evolution.

Costiera Amalfitana is an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values resulting from its dramatic topography and historical evolution. The area covers 11,231 ha in 15 [16?]communes in the Province of Salerno. Its natural boundary is the southern slope of the peninsula formed by the Lattari hills which, stretching from the Picentini hills to the Tyrrhenian Sea, separate the Gulf of Naples from the Gulf of Salerno. It consists of four main stretches of coast (Amalfi, Atrani, Reginna Maior, Reginna Minor) with some minor ones (Positano, Praiano, Certaria, Hercle), with the mountain villages of Scala, Tramonti and Ravello and hamlets of Conca and Furore behind and above them.

Palaeolithic and Mesolithic materials have been found at Positano, and the area was favoured by the Romans, judging from the villas of Positano, Minori and Gallo Lungo. However, it was not intensively settled until the early Middle Ages, when the Gothic War made it a place of refuge. Amalfi was founded in the 4th century AD. A new Roman colony in nearby Lucania came under barbarian attack and the inhabitants moved to the fertile and well-watered hilly area around modern Scala. In the first written reference to Amalfi (596) it was already a fortified town and the seat of a bishopric. It resisted Lombard attacks until 838, when it was conquered and looted by Sicardo. However, after his death the following year the town declared its independence. The new republic was governed by a ruler whose title had become Doge by 958. This political autonomy enabled Amalfi to become a maritime trading power between the early 9th and late 11th centuries, when the sea power of Byzantium was in decline and a free market developed. Amalfi had a near-monopoly of trade in the Tyrrhenian Sea, with vast networks of links, selling Italian products (wood, iron, weapons, wine, fruit) in eastern markets and buying in return spices, perfumes, pearls, jewels, textiles and carpets to sell in the West. The layout of the settlements showed eastern influence: the closely spaced houses climbing up the steep hillsides, connected by a maze of alleys and stairs, are reminiscent of the souks of the Levant. A distinctive Arab-Sicilian architecture originated and developed in Amalfi.

With the eclipse of the mercantile importance of Amalfi by Genoa, Venice and, above all, Pisa, and its conquest by Spain, it fell into an uninterrupted decline. The only significant change to the landscape was the reinforcement of the system of watchtowers along the coast, to give warning and protection against Turkish attacks. The towns and villages of Costiera Amalfitana are characterized by their architectural monuments, such as the Torre Saracena at Cetara, the Romanesque Cathedral of Amalfi and its ‘Cloister of Paradise’, with their strong oriental influences, the Church of San Salvatore de’ Bireto at Atrani, where the Dogi of Amalfi were elected, and Ravello with its fine cathedral and the superb Villa Rufolo.

Inland the steep slopes rising from the coast are covered with terraces, revetted with drystone walling and used for the cultivation of citrus and other fruits, olives, vines and vegetables of all kinds. Further inland the hillsides are given over to dairy farming, whose roots are ancient in the area, based on sheep, goats, cattle and buffalo. In some parts of the Costiera the natural landscape survives intact, with little, if any, human intervention. It supports the traditional Mediterranean flora of myrtle, lentisk, broom, euphorbia, etc. Elsewhere there are stands of trees such as holm oak, alder, beech and chestnut. Other biotopes shelter pantropical ferns, butterwort, dwarf palms and endemic carnivorous species. The Costiera is also rich in wildlife. The higher mountain areas are noteworthy for the characteristic mule tracks (mulattiere ). There are many small streams which in places drop over impressive waterfalls. There is an immense diversity of landscapes, ranging from the coastal settlements through the intensively cultivated lower slopes and large areas of open pastoral land to the dramatic high mountains. In addition, there are ‘micro-landscapes’ of great scientific interest resulting from topographical and climatic variations, and striking natural formations in the limestone karst at both sea level and above.


Top 10 Foods to Try in Tuscany

Italians have a saying when wishing someone good luck: “In bocca al lupo.” Literally, it means “into the mouth of the wolf.” (As in go ahead, put your head into the wolf’s mouth.) The response, naturally, is, “crepi al lupo, ” or “may the wolf die (when my head is in his mouth).” I could have used luck, and another stomach, during my first visit to Tuscany. The menu is structured in the same fashion as the rest of Italy: the primi piatti, or first course, offers fresh pastas, rich risottos and thick soups. The contorni, or side dishes, are made up of salads and in-season vegetables. And the secondi piatti, or entrees, mean the usual suspects like veal, hen, fish, pork and steak, along with game like boar and rabbit.

The surprise, for me, was how outstanding the food was, and how much I would miss it, dream about it, long for it, after my trip. So, dream along with me. Here is a list of what you must eat while in Tuscany. You’ll notice most of the dishes are simple, with few ingredients. The amazingness lies in the intense flavor of the ingredients themselves – the handmade pasta, the mushrooms just pulled from the ground, the olive oil so naturally green it looks like food coloring. I didn’t include standard Italian gimmes, like pizza or gelato or tiramisu. You already know plenty about those. This is Tuscany, known for its extra virgin olive oil, its unparalleled wines, its farm-to-table preparation (the Tuscans were so ahead of the curve). Enjoy it. Bon appetit. And in bocca al lupo.


Bread salad. A light combination of day-old bread and ripe tomatoes, often with marinated red onions and basil, tossed with vinegar and olive oil. To me, a perfect lunch. To Italians, a good start to a summertime dinner.

Minestra di Farro Lucchese

The flavorful signature dish of every kitchen in the Tuscan town of Lucca. Made with farro, an ancient (now trendy in the States) spelt-like grain, it’s similar to lentil soup or pasta e fagioli.


A thick, hearty vegetable soup made with day-old bread. Literally meaning “reboiled,” it roots lie in Tuscany’s “cucina povera,” or “poor cuisine.”

Pappa al pomodoro

A rich, creamy soup made with tomatoes and, yes, day-old bread (you’re seeing the theme here). Tomato soup to the nth degree.


Truffles, found in the wild, and so revered throughout Italy as to inspire parades and festivals dedicated solely to this fungi. Tuscany’s tartufi are considered among the world’s finest, and when in season, can be found on everything from pasta to crostini to dessert. Black truffles grow from October to March; white truffles, October through December.

Tagliatelle alla boscaiola

Fresh pasta with a flavorful sauce made with porcini mushrooms. The name refers to its woodsy, mushroom-y flavor.

Pasta al ragu di carne

. A must-try in Tuscany. Different from meat sauce found in the States, it uses little-to-no tomato. Instead this ragu is made mostly from simmered-down veal or pork (or both) and carrots, onions, celery and sometimes tartufi.


Wild boar, hunted in Tuscany, often served in pasta or as its own secondo.

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Tuscan porterhouse made from the region’s famed Chianina cattle, prized for their flavor and tenderness. Simply prepared with salt, rosemary and olive oil, then grilled over a wood fire. Served rare/medium rare.


Also known as biscotti, the crunchy almond-flavored cookies that hail from Tuscany. Usually served with vin santo, another Tuscan claim to fame.*

*A note about vino. Red or white, il vino della casa in Tuscany is among the best house wine you’ll find anywhere in the world, and is usually as good as the labels listed on the menu, at a fraction of the price. Vin santo is an excellent option after dinner, as the majority of this dessert wine is produced in Tuscany. If you’re heading to Cinque Terre, sciacchetra (pronounced shah-kee-TRAH) is a slightly sweeter white wine produced solely in the vineyards of the five towns, and is nearly impossible to find in the US. Stash away a bottle or five to bring home as gifts (for your friends and yourself) if your suitcase can handle it.



Storia – Gare – Passione – Spettacolo: cosa non puoi perdere nei prossimi giorni

Alcune manifestazioni storiche del Week End 30/06-02/07, in particolare il Giugno Pisano e il Palio di Siena:


“PALIO SAN BERNARDINO 2012″ da Giovedì 28 a Domenica 1° Luglio


VII° EDIZIONE DEL PALIO DI “SAN BERNARDINO” L’evento nel caratteristico borgo del Comune di Valtopina, giovedì 28 giugno, la VII° Edizione del Palio di San Berardino, con il programma già annunciato in conferenza stampa. La Neo Presidente, la Signora Antonella …Continua a leggere →

Giugno Pisano

Giugno Pisano è un mese ricco di rievocazioni storiche, manifestazioni, concerti, feste in piazza ed iniziative culturali per festeggiare le antichissime tradizioni della città di Pisa. Gli avvenimenti storici sono: la Luminara di S. Ranieri, la Festa di S.Ranieri, la Regata storica di S. … Continua a leggere →

IL PALIO DI SIENA – 2 luglio e 15 agosto

Torna, il 2 luglio, il famosissimo Palio di Siena, una tra le più importanti manifestazioni folcloristiche in Italia, attrazione turistica a livelli nazionali e internazionali. Nella meravigliosa piazza del Campo si sfidano dieci delle diciassette contrade della città infatti ad … Continua a leggere →

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