Thursday, May 5, 2016

Matera, the Sassi and a Wine Tasting with Dinner

Today we woke up in Matera. We got a great night’s sleep once we got the room cooled off. We ended up sleeping with the window open just to keep the temperature down. We were up at 6:30am (as usual) and dressed and ready for the day by 7:15am. We went down for breakfast and then returned to the room for a little while until we had to meet the group in the lobby for our tour of Matera. Our local tour guide for the day was Emilia and she walked us through the Piazza Giovanni Pascoli. We stopped for a minute at the MuseoNazionale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna della Basilicata and then went to a scenic overlook to see the Sassi. Here she gave us some history and information.
The Sassi
Then we headed down into the Sassi and as we walked she continued giving us history and stories of the area. The Sassi is a series of walkways, stairs and alleyways of buildings (most of which are carved into the rock or that used caves as the base of the building). We were able to go into a home that isn’t lived in but is set up like the way they lived. One of the interesting things we learned was that most of the families had a donkey for a variety of uses – this donkey was more important to the family than the children were.
The Sassi
It was interesting learning about the area but also confusing since there is so much history here. They believe that this area was inhabited thousands of years before Christ. The architecture was pretty amazing and the way the buildings are arranged reminded me of the Anasazi pueblos. After about an hour or so there we ended our tour and went for a food tasting.

We arrived at a place called Peperoncini where we tasted an olive tapenade spread, chili peppers fried in olive oil (they were like chips), bread with olive oil, a tomato based spread (like marinara but thicker) and a focaccia. I ended up buying some of the peppers (Peperone "scrokkia" dolce) as a snack for later. Once everyone was done we were all ready to head back into town and to the hotel. But then Thomas asked about hiking to the caves.
Dave, Thomas and Mel head for the suspension bridge.
Linda said we could go if we wanted and gave us directions – so Thomas, myself, Toni, Dave, Mel and Ginger headed out. We followed the road for a short distance and then took some stairs that headed down into a canyon. The stairs turned to stone and then to dirt as we got lower into the canyon. Eventually we reached a suspension bridge that crossed a river (or stream) where the trail continued from there. Not too far from the bridge Toni and Thomas decided to stop and wait while the rest of us continued on.
One of the caves we visited.
It took a little while and some climbing to finally reach one of the caves. We were glad we did the hike – it was interesting to see them. And it truly reminded me of the Anasazi and places like Bandelier or Mesa Verde. After seeing the caves we retraced our steps back to the Sassi and then made our way back into town. We were a little hungry but it was past lunch (around 1:30) and we didn’t want too much so that we would be good for dinner and wine tasting later. Thomas and I stopped in for a gelato and found a nice spot to sit and eat. Then we went back to the hotel and rested. I did some blogging and editing of photos while Thomas read.

Around 4:30pm we went down to the lobby and met the group to head out for our wine tasting and dinner.
In the wine cellar.
We went to Polvanera Winery in Gioia del Colle. This is a family owned place and we got a tour of the winery by Alessia. After a tour of all the facilities we were taken into a beautiful dining room for dinner. For starters we had focaccia with olive oil and frittata. The first course was pasta with broccoli rabe and the second course was pork on skewers. During dinner we tasted four wines - a Rosé (sparkling wine), two reds and one white. Everyone there was extremely nice and the food and wine were delicious - we all felt like we were eating with family. It was a nice relaxing night with lots of laughter and fun. I think we all may have had too much wine. Oh well, we are on a food and wine tour.
Our group at dinner.
We said our goodbyes to the staff at the winery and boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel. I think some of us may have napped during the ride because the bus was awfully quiet. Now back in our room and showered and in my pj's I am getting this written while it is still fresh in my mind. Tomorrow we leave Matera and head to Benevento.

1 comment :

Tess Mayle said...

This was fantastic. Excellent food and wine and we were made to feel a part of the familia!