Matera: Oct 3-5 - jayrose

2014 France / Italy Ride Continued

We didn’t have any more rain at “the ranch” so were able to get the bike back down (and up) to (from) the cabin for the bags. After a nice breakfast and saying our goodbyes we were headed toward Matera the Cave City. The route used more of the faster two lane road than we liked, but there weren’t much in the way of paralleling options until we got back off the coast a ways and then we were able to enjoy some nice mountain riding again except that the road surfaces weren’t the best. We’ve come to suspect now that, in addition to what ever contribution the presumed earthquakes and any remedial repairs of the damaged roads has had, there must have been some substandard construction on some of these roads to bring about the occasional collapse we see. When we were about to reach the top of the mountains we entered a fog / cloud layer where visibility got down to near zero for a while and coincidentally the route took us onto one of those really tiny roads so we had some interesting riding until we began to drop down off the mountain and out of the fog again. Then we were back onto the faster roads leading us to Matera where we spent some time locating the parking garage associated with the hotel Ethel chose for our stay here. The streets of ancient polished stone were wet and amazingly slick; I was concerned that if I had to use a foot to balance the bike, we’d come to grief as I couldn’t keep from slipping when I put any weight on the ground. Finally, we located the garage and the fellow there was incredibly nice in taking us to the nearest point (about 100 meters) to the hotel where we then walked and he schlepped our bags to the room. We might have done it, but it was a huge service for which we were very grateful as our room ended up being down several flights of wet slick stairs. The hotel, located in the old city, like most all other structures here, is constructed partly of the native stone quarried nearby and partly of the old caves dug into this mountain which were inhabited by families until the 1960’s. It’s an amazingly confusing place to try to get one’s bearings and after our first walk around needed the map and the help of some local knowledge to arrive back to the hotel.

Oct 4 -5 Despite time getting in short supply to finish our journey, we decided to spend a couple of days here as it is such a special and unique place. We’ve taken tours of the town, the grotto (Murgia) and visited some of the museums. We also enjoyed some nice meals in restaurants, some of which were in or partially in caves.