If you like hiking, Matera will not disappoint you. There is an easy/medium hiking trail that starts on the West edge of the Sassi area and goes all the way to Belvedere Murgia Timone, the location of the crucifixion in The Passion of Christ movie, and from where you will have a unique view of The Sassi area.
How to get there?
The hiking trail starts on the West edge of The Sassi area. There is an open gate and a sign with some information. The point can be reached by car and there is even a free parking lot in case you want to drive up to the entrance.
You can simply search for Parcheggio via Madonna delle Virtu, which is the name of the public parking space nearby.
The map above shows the path (by Google) from the Duomo to the bridge, just to have as a reference, and in case you want to start at the Duomo itself.
The total length is approximately 6 km, and it can take around 2 hours to complete.
First part: descend to Ponte Tibetano della Gravina
The first part is probably the easiest, and it goes all the way down from the starting point to Ponte Tibetano della Gravina (see picture above). The path is very easy and downhill, so it shouldn’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes.
In summer, be aware of the heat and sun, and there is no much shade along the whole trail. Below the bridge, there any enough spots to refresh yourself using the water from Torrent Gravina.
This part is also the most boring one, and there is no much to see until you reach the bridge. It gets more exciting once you cross the Gravina Canyon.
Second part: ascend to Belvedere Murgia Timone
The second part ascends from the bridge all the way to the popular Belvedere Murgia Timone, the location of the crucifixion in The Passion of Christ movie.
Expect breathtaking views like the one in the picture above, which was taken from inside one of the caves, which are key on summer days to rest under the shade.
Some of the tracks and caves were created in the Neolithic when the first form of prehistoric human settlements took place. On Murgia Timone you will find remains of a primitive burial and some traces of an ancient Neolithic village.
Along the way, you will come across some typical rock-hewn churches like Chiesa Rupestre di Madonna delle Tre Porte (of three doors), which features an interesting Byzantine decoration.
Third part: go back to town
And that’s it. Like in most hiking trails, at some point the only thing left to do is to walk back to town. In this case, is taking exactly the same path, so there is no much new stuff to discover.
The last part could get slightly difficult, and you may be tired and will need to walk 20 minutes uphill. Once on top, there are many places nearby where can have a drink and rest, such as Altereno Cafè.
What should I bring?
- Trainers: the hike is not difficult, any trainers would do it. Flip flops are not ideal.
- Water: depending on the season the weather can be very hot. So one or two bottles per person at least.
- Camera: of course you will want to take pictures.