Hiking in the Park of the Murgia: Nature and Cave Churches

Some time ago Fabio and Giuseppe decided to hike across the Murgia, or better, that part of the Murgia belonging to the province of Matera.  For those who don’t know it, the Murgia is a land extending over the area around Matera and Apulia (namely, province of Bari) which is made up of  a hilly plateau covered with spontaneous Mediterranean vegetation.  In particular, the Murgia of Matera is crossed by a huge canyon where a small stream flows, the “Gravina”.

It was in this land, known for its calcareous ground, the tufa rock, that the first human settlements had developed, since the Prehistory.  In fact, the morphology of the land and the features of the local stone (easy to carve and therm-insulating) played a prominent role in the development of the first settlements.  The whole Park of the Murgia is a proof of that: from the first caves where prehistoric men took shelter, to underground tombs and cave churches dating back to several centuries ago.  And, do not forget the Sassi, coming from the hard work of our tireless ancestors, who carved their dwellings out of the tufa stone.

So, even though the Murgia plateau could seem to be an inaccessible land, it is a great place to go hiking, or simply go for nature walks.  No doubt Giuseppe and Fabio are not very expert in hiking (as you can see, their clothes are not very “suitable”).  However, it doesn’t mean you should be expert to go hiking on the Murgia: just get hold of a map and follow the recommended signalled itineraries that lead hikers to discover hidden treasures.  It happened, for example, that Giuseppe and Fabio found a very old cave church that they didn’t know: the church of “Madonna del Monte Verde” (literally, “the Virgin of the Green Mountain”), dating back to the end of 1500.

A very pleasant discovery for Giuseppe and Fabio and for those who decide to go hiking in the Murgia. I wonder how many itineraries you can follow and how many “discoveries” you can still make.  You just should be curious enough and be endowed with spirit of adventure…Matera will reward you with all its “treasures”.


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