Part 3: TRAVELER DISCOVERIES OF SOUTHSIDE ITALY’S ANCIENT ORIGINS – MATERA
In Part 2, we explored the historic Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and hiked on Mt. Etna. We also enjoyed sumptuous meals near both those famous landmarks.
We left the island of Sicily for the mainland region of Basilicata, Italy, aboard a 20-minute ferry that docked in Villa San Giovanni, Calabria. Calabria (old Italy) means “place of the bull.” Ninety percent of Calabria is mountainous.
Enroute to Matera, a city of growing fascination the more we learned, we pass by isolated run-down buildings along the road called “one Euro properties.” That’s the price anyone can pay to own one of these crumbling, likely medieval times-built homes. Here’s the backstory. Small villages desperately need restoration of abandoned homes that might entice new residents. However, remaining villagers are likely impoverished and unable to tackle repairs of a second home. Anyone can apply to buy one of those homes for one € with the pledge to restore it to historical accuracy. Applicant must also commit to five – 10 years ownership (depending on the area) but is not required to live there year-round. The property must remain a personal home and cannot be turned into a B&B or other money-making business. Not caring which homes qualified for a one € sale did not stop our 18-member tour group from pointing out luxury homes for the remainder of the two-week trip and yelling out, “One € house.”