Località Sasso Caveoso - San Pietro Caveoso, Vicinato di Vico Solitario 11, 75100 Matera (Matera, Basilicata)
Before entering the Casa Grotta - literally "Cave House" - a word about the Sassi in Matera must be spent. The settlement is one of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, listed as "the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem."
In fact, the Sassi provide a unique case of a town digged into rocks, where caves have been continuously inhabited from the Palaeolithic period to the present day.
As centuries passed, the dwellers increasingly built aboveground, and the caves began to be used as stores, cellars and stables. During the 19th century, however, the socio-economic conditions of the town degraded quickly, and all the caves - stores, cellars and stables - were turned into homes again. This urban macrostructure continued until the early 1950s.
The Casa Grotta tells the story of the people that lived in the Sassi. In the large one room area, partly dug out of the rock and partly constructed, the furniture is positioned so as to create smaller areas: the hearth with the stove, a small table in the centre of the room, a bed with two iron trestles on which wooden planks were placed, supporting a mattress made out of corn leaves.
In front of the bed, in between the cave walls, there was a trough where the mule was tied. A round hole was used as a cesspit, or as a place to keep straw.
If you plan to visit, please check on the House Museum's website.
In-depth information on this House Museum can be found in House museums in Italy. New cultural itineraries: poetry, history, art, architecture, music, arts & crafts, tastes and traditions, a guide-book by Rosanna Pavoni, which can be purchased on line.