The Sassi of Matera represent the ancient city of Matera . Sassi are divided in three part Sasso “Caveoso”, Sasso “Barisano” and the district “Civita”.
The Sassi of Matera were entered in the list of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993 . They were the first listed site in southern Italy.
Sasso Barisano , turned north – west edge of the cliff , if we take as reference the Civita , the heart of the old city , is the richest and friezes carved portals that hide the underground heart .
The Caveoso, looking instead to the south , is arranged like a Roman amphitheater, with the cave dwellings which descend in terraces, and perhaps takes its name from the quarries and classical theaters. At the center of the Civita, rocky outcrop that separates the two Sassi, on top of which is the Cathedral. And finally in front, on the opposite side of the Gravina of Matera, the Murgia plateau that serves as a natural backdrop to this scenario, with the many stone churches scattered along the slopes of ravines protected by the institution in the Parco Archeologico delle Chiese rock of Matera, also called Park of the Murgia Matera.
The Architect Pietro Laureano in his book Giardini di Pietra said: ” Natural caves, underground architectural, tanks, huge enclosures entrenched, farms, churches and palaces, one another and coexist, dug and built into the tuff of the ravine.
The description of Carlo Levi ‘s Christ Stopped at Eboli says something beautiful . His sister , who acts as narrator , the Sassi appear as two means funnels separated by a rock , the Civita , and the white church of Santa Maria de Idris , who seemed stuck in the ground . The two half funnels are the Sassi , and Levi have the form in which , in school , imagine Dante’s Inferno .
The neighborhoods, consisting of a set of houses that look out on the same open space, often with the well in the center, were the model of social life, solidarity and cooperation of the Sassi. The communal well where they washed clothes, the oven where they kneaded the bread made in the neighborhood as the basic unit of community organization. In homes, the light comes from above and the temperature is constant at 15 degrees, with the thermal mass of tuff marine that works by air-conditioning. If the rays of the summer sun, perpendicular and hot, remain outside, winter, slanted, slide the bottom of the caves. This degrading and overlapping of houses and cottages, is apparently chaotic, because then it is built with many devices. But the descent Sassi is a constant surprise. Among alleys and steps we come into formidable monasteries carved into the rock, Cenobi Benedictine and Byzantine laure, in which the cells of the monks huddle around an underground church.