Complesso Rupestre San Giorgio Matera


audio and description

This spacious environment within the Rupestrian Complex was completely excavated and used as a dwelling until the 1970s. Turning towards the back wall, you can notice a slight elevation compared to the floor: it was the stable for animals, ideally separated from the rest of the living space by a subtle difference in height. On the right side of the back niche, you can see the feeding trough for the animals.
On the left wall, still facing away from the entrance, there is a shallow recess where the bed was located. The thick mattress, filled with corn leaves, was placed on two high supports to elevate it from the floor, both to utilize the space underneath and to insulate it from the dampness of the underground.
These dwellings, often intended to accommodate large families, lacked proper furnishings. Each item present had a specific function: the only bed in the house, the grain chest, a chest of drawers usually placed next to the bed and used to store various objects and utensils. The bottom drawer, when needed, would become a crib for newborns. The linen chest, covered with corn leaves and a sheet in the evening, would serve as the bed for one of the family members. The only small table in the house was used by all family members to access their portion of food from a cup placed on it during modest daily meals.
These dwellings had no connections to water or sewage systems. In the absence of sanitary facilities, everyone used a terracotta pot called a “cantaro” for their needs. To heat the environment, a small brazier was placed in the center of the house, while the kitchen was usually located near the entrance, as indicated by the chimney on the left side next to the door when facing the entrance. Water used in the house was drawn from a rainwater collection cistern, either inside or outside the dwelling.
In his novel “Christ Stopped at Eboli,” Carlo Levi described these dwellings: “Inside those dark holes with earthen walls, I saw the beds, the meager furnishings, the hanging rags. On the floor, dogs, sheep, goats, pigs were lying. Generally, each family has only one of those caves as a dwelling, and they all sleep together, men, women, children, and animals.”
With the words of those who, in 1945, drew attention to the Sassi and the living conditions of their inhabitants, we bid you farewell and thank you for visiting our Rupestrian Complex. With its approximately 400 square meters of extension, it allows you to retrace the millennia-old history of the Sassi di Matera, a history full of contradictions but always fascinating.