Matera Sasso Caveoso

This is a view of the Sasso Caveoso of Matera, Italy. Two sassi or ravines exist in the old town, the Caveoso and the Barisano, in both of which people lived in partly cave dwellings for centuries, continuing their medieval way of life well into the 1950s when the poor citizens of the sassi were relocated to the upper parts of the town, some against their wishes. In the 1980s people started to move back, and now the place is becoming gentrified and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists have discovered it and now nice hotels exist in what once were the poorest of dwellings. The place has been the location of many films, including Pier Paolo Passolini’s Gospel According to Matthew (1964; you can watch the whole thing on YouTube) and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. You can recognize Matera’s ancient sassi in the background of this clip.