Open air museum
Matera advertises itself as an open air museum, it is this and more. The area has been continuously inhabited for an estimated 9,000 years. Yet uniquely over this time period rather than adapt the environment to suit their needs the inhabitants seem to have adapted to the surrounding environment. Resulting in a community built around numerous caves on the sides of a steep ravine.
Once infamous for the poverty described by Carlo Levi, since gaining UNESCO status in 1993 the abandoned cave houses have been redeveloped into B&bs, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and even spas. You can spend many happy hours wandering the narrow alleyways and staircases that make up the Sassi but you will frequently end up looking down into the gorge at the edge of town. Take a walk down into the bottom of the ravine and enjoy the tranquil sound of the river whilst gazing up at the town clinging to the rock above. Then climb up to the rock church of Maria de Idris above Piazza Caveoso and look at the 700 year old frescoes of saints whilst imagining the importance of this temple in the 5,000 years prior to Christianity.