I Sassi, the oldest and most historical site in Matera dates back to before Christ. Here you will see many frescoes in the "grotte" or caves carved out of a valley of limestone.  Today I Sassi is viewed much differently than say, even twenty five years ago. It was not until the last 15 or so years that it has been viewed as the historical center that it deserved.  Instead; many locals know of the harsh living experiences of I Sassi, the poverty that was. This was well documented in the area by Carlo Levi in his famous book "Christ Stopped at Eboli".


Today I Sassi has been changed to accomodate the influx of tourists, with caves set up in old living manors for show, hotels, resturants, bars and professional offices.  Today to purchase a place in the I Sassi will run you quite a bit of money, something that natives still can't believe,  because they remember how I Sassi once housed many of the poor.   At night I Sassi is very beautiful, it absolutely takes your breath away;  when standing anywhere looking at it from a distance. If you go to the piazza and one of the restaurants where you are seated outside on cobblestone, you can see an ancient limestone church and  a view of I Sassi that you just can't appreciate unless you are there. It overwhelms many, causing them to actually tear up.  It somehow seems as if it were too beautiful to be real.