I welcomed in 2018 in Matera, Italy, where I spent a week staying with friends while they were teaching abroad (a rather late post – the rain outside made me think of holidays and I suddenly remembered…)
Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Basilicata, southern Italy, famous for its cave dwellings, the ‘Sassi’. They are still inhabited, with many of them now restaurants and hotels.
The main town is beautiful, with traditional buildings and piazzas, but the viewpoints over the Sassi are the highlights.
The food in Italy is always one of the best things about a trip there, and I ate my body weight in pizza. One evening we headed into the Sassi for an amazing meal at Oi Marì. Spend an evening getting lost in the winding alleyways, have a glass of wine, then a pizza in a cave – what could be better?
In the main town, we spent most of the time having a natter and drinking hot chocolate. Order a ‘cioccolata calda’; they’re so thick and chocolatey you have to eat them with a spoon! At the top of the main building in the Piazza Vittorio Veneto is a lovely rooftop cafe with a view of the Sassi and the main square, perfect for a drink on a sunny day.
One of my favourite places was Tasty Shock, just off the main square, where the walls are lined with different ice cream flavours and toppings and you fill up a pot – a very dangerous game, especially when there’s Nutella on tap.
For New Years Eve we got the bus to Bari, on the coast, a bigger town which was packed for the day. We had cocktails and tapas in town, then watched the sun set with a walk along the seafront, before heading to our cheap and cheerful hostel Santa Claus.
There were plenty of places for drinks and food, and after spending the evening making the rounds we headed to the centre for the countdown. A huge stage had been put up and we danced with the people around us and had a brilliant night.
Getting to and from Matera was pretty easy; I flew to Bari, and got the shuttle bus from the airport to Matera, which took an hour and a half. The last shuttle was after midnight, so I didn’t need to worry about arriving late and not being able to get there.
Out of the trip, the food definitely stands out the most, and I would love to spend another week there visiting more restaurants, as well as exploring the local area. Next time I would spend a couple of days in Bari as well, as I don’t remember much from New Years Eve…