We did actually set foot in Greece, twice, so I’m going to count it as having been there, but I was not thrilled with the ports, and didn’t feel like we came even close to seeing what Greece is all about (so we’ll have to go back, right?)
Our first stop was supposed to be Zakynthos, but the seas were too rough to tender in, so we had to find a port, instead. I don’t even know what the name of the place was, but it seriously was not worth getting off the ship for, and I wasn’t off for long. Mr. Tattered didn’t even bother. I did get a photo of the flag, some crazy writing, and tried some ouzo in honor of an old friend, Nick Mavrides, who fed it to me back in my old Rotarian days and was impressed I could swallow it without coughing! Heeheehee!
Our second stop was in Corfu, and although it wasn’t quite as bad, they really had to reach for an outing, and we took perhaps the worst tour of the whole trip. I did take a few photos, but really, not worth the effort to show you.
So, Greece, the REAL Greece, is still on my list.
Our next stop was Bari, Italy, on the eastern coast of Italy. Our tour took us to Sassi de Matera, a cave village now a Unesco World Heritage site, but once a slum, the shame of Italy.
It is quite a bus ride away from port, and we were beginning to wonder what we’d gotten ourselves into until we arrived. What a hidden gem. We’d never seen anything like it.
Picture, if you will, the time of Christ. In fact, “The Passion of the Christ” was filmed there.
The whole village was built into side of the limestone rock. Not built of blocks of rock, but the rooms were actually dug into the soft limestone, then in some places built out from there. It is so hard to describe, and the pictures really don’t do it justice. It’s one of those places you really have to see to appreciate, but I’ll try.
We spent hours going up and down hills on cobblestones to get the best views.
One of the buildings, rather than being lived in, was set up as a museum so you could see how people lived in them…
I was fascinated by the water collection system… You know me and the crazy things that strike my fancy!
By the 1950’s, the whole area had deteriorated into a slum and eventually it was condemned. The Italian government relocated the entire population (approx 16,000 people) to the surrounding villages.
Then in 70’s, people who had grown up in the Sassi began to come back to see where they’d come from, and a movement was begun to rehabilitate it. Today it is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and over 3,000 people live and have retail businesses there.
It is immensely impressive, and if you’re looking to add to your bucket list, you might want to consider Sassi de Matera. In the world, it’s pretty unique.