Few days ago I was reading about one of the most beautiful and at the same time unknown city of Italy: Matera.
If you have been following this blog for a while, you should be by now a kind of expert of Italian recipes, cities and traditions. Therefore, I believe it is now time for you to move to the next step and become a pro, driving you in the most sophisticated and refined Italian delicacies J
Matera is one of the most incredible city you will ever see in Italy. But most of all, Matera is old. Really, really old. Inhabited since the 6000 a.c. (more that 8000 years ago!) the area of Matera is one of the oldest places early Italians have even lived. It has been properly developed by the Greeks first and by the Romans then, becoming an exception centre of culture, power and laws.
Known as “La Città dei Sassi” (The City of Stones), Matera is build on the sides of a calcareous ravine, which gives the typical white colour to its houses and monuments. The result is impressive. Houses and tortuous passages are dig into the stone, creating a connection of caves and evocative places. Honestly, it is hard to explain in words how astonishing is this city if you haven’t been there.
Walking the small streets, you can see still ancient artisan working on the side of their laboratories the famous stones creating beautiful object or cooking their typical bread. When I have been in Matera, I remember I felt proud of seeing such an amazing city maintaining its traditions intact despite the strong tourism. It is something you cannot see everywhere in Italy nowadays. If you have been in Venice, you would know what I am talking about. And as every Italian city with such a long story, Matera has a huge culinary tradition too, which is what we are the most interested in, right? 😉
First of all, the pasta! Indeed, fresh pasta was actually born here, between Puglia and Basilicata, prepared with durum wheat flour, water and salt and then cut into small pieces to take the shape of the famous “Orecchiette”, which here get the name of “Cavatelli”. Typical of the Lucan region are the “Frizzule”, a type of pasta prepared using a metal wire and seasoned with bread crumbs and sweet peppers.
Meat too deserves a special mention, because in Basilicata, the region hosting the city, the tradition of not wasting any food is strongly alive: here you can find several recipes serving offal and entrails, often prepared as skewers.
And what about its Olive Oil? South of Italy is worldwide recognized as the king of Olive Oil producers and Matera is not an exception. The “Cultivar Majatica” is a unique kind of olives growing on the harsh territory of Matera, where olive trees grow majestic and gives round and fleshy fruits for a high quality oil. The taste is a bit acid and fruity, even a bit spicy if tasted freshly squeezed, perfect is pured raw on Pasta, delicious if used for Bruschetta 😛
Finally, given its proximity to Puglia, it should also be said that in Matera there are many typical Puglia’s dishes too, as mozzarellas and fresh cheeses, which enrich even more the gastronomic panorama of the city. What can we say, Matera bewitches with its beauty and takes you by the throat with its kitchen!
As you can imagine, Matera represents a fantastic destination for those who wants to have a next level experience of Italy, after have visited compulsory cities as Rome, Venice or Florence (and Turin, of course LOL). This city is worthy the journey <3