Matera

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The Civita and the Sassi
The "Civita" is one of the most ancient parts of the town of Matera and archaeological research has proved that the Civita was one of the prehistoric settlements in the area surrounding Matera. The first nucleus of Matera, that was later enclosed within fortified walls, rose when the tribes of the ditched villages of the Murgia plateau crossed the torrent Gravina to settle down in the "Civita", probably because here, they felt safer and more protected.
The "Civita" overlooks the two karst valleys that, in ancient times, were rich in vegetation and caves; later, due to demographic growth, the population had to move from the Civita to other places situated outside the town-walls. As time passed, the population inhabited the two karst valleys underlying the Civita that developed into he characteristic quarters, known as the "Sassi". The implementation of a special law in the 50s led to the removal of the population living in the Sassi because of bad hygienic and sanitary conditions. At present, another law n. 771/1986 has been implemented to protect this exceptional and original urban structure from decay, that is nowadays inscribed on the "World Heritage List" on behalf of Unesco.

The realization of these pages was possible thanks to the contribution of the APT Basilicata