If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit Italy, you really are missing out on one of the great pleasures in life. There are so many different things to see, and it is more than just beautiful sites, there’s a lot of history that is involved as well.

Aside from some of the bigger tourist attractions, such as Venice and Rome, you also have some places that tend to fly under the radar, such as Matera. Located in southern Italy, it is a relatively small city that is known for its unusual cave dwellings.

Photo: Pixabay/firomex

Those cave dwellings, also referred to as Sassi, were dug into the stone many millennia ago. There were actually inhabited until the mid-1950s, but due to some sanitary problems, they had to be evacuated at that time.

The Sassi continued to be a point of discussion and a nice place to visit, but things began to change in the 1980s. They started to allow people to stay in those cave dwellings again, but they are now being turned into everything from art galleries to hotels.

Photo: Pixabay/Solfaroli Renzo

These cave dwellings have been around for a very long time. In fact, they were made so long ago that they are not exactly sure when they came about or who made them. It is thought that it may be up to 12,000 years old, although nobody really knows.

Since the caves were occupied so many years ago, Matera is one of the areas in Italy that has been occupied for more years than any other. They also have seen their fair share of occupants, from the Greeks to the Romans and many others.

Photo: Pixabay/Solfaroli Renzo

When you see the scenery in Matera, it may look somewhat familiar. It has actually been used in a number of blockbuster films, including The Passion of the Christ, and No Time to Die.

These days, the ancient town that contains the Sassi forms one part of the city and there is a more modern part as well. You have to travel to a rocky outcrop that overlooks the town in order to find the Sassi but once you’re there, you will find a place where you can stay.

Photo: Pixabay/Lino Lombardi

According to the Smithsonian, at one time, the Sassi were considered more of a home for those who were below the poverty level but these days, there is plenty of tourism and art galleries, helping to fuel the economy in the city and taking it into the future.