Sassi de Matera
Sassi de Matera © Loloieg
For anyone with even the smallest interest in human history, the Sassi de Matera - located in the region of Basilicata, about 156 miles (250km) east of Naples - are a must-see tourist attraction. The unbelievable cave-dwellings of Matera were inscribed in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1993, and have been astonishing visitors to the region ever since. Dug into the tuff rock of the region (rock comprised of consolidated volcanic ash), the 'houses' are often little more than caverns, and remain as testament to a troglodyte population believed to be the first human settlement in Italy. Some of the streets of present-day Matera double as rooftops to the underground dwellings, and beneath the surface, a network of labyrinths and caverns once traversed by the prehistoric civilisation can still be observed. As has been noted, the inhabitants of Matera's Sassi are the only people who can claim to live in the same houses as their ancestors did 9,000 years ago - making these amazing structures compulsory viewing for all tourists to Italy who are keen on historical sightseeing. It's fun to hire bikes and ride to the caverns further afield and there are many good local guides to hire.