Tis Returns to Italy! Day 62: Living the Cave Life!

Published by Lisa Tisdale on

Entrance to My Cave Home in Matera, Italy
Entrance to My Cave Home in Matera, Italy

Lisa of Tis Travels is on a three-month journey through Italy, exploring, eating, and living like an Italian. Follow along on “Tis Travels” on Facebook and Instagram!

Today I woke up, ready to leave my little Smurf Home

Saying Goodbye is Sometimes Easy

While I had enjoyed the experience, let’s just say my Smurf home host was just a touch neurotic. I signed more paperwork and went through more questioning than maximum security prisoners. When I first arrived, the tour of the tiny Smurf home took quite some time and she carefully repeated all of her many rules. 

One of my favorite rules was that she programmed the temperature, managing it remotely, and I was not to touch the thermostat. I was also instructed to turn off the lights I was not using. Finally, like a warning shot, she said it was necessary for her to check me out the morning I left. 

If ever an Airbnb host had a camera, or several, in the apartment watching my every move it was her. Let’s just say I tried my best to make her viewing time a different experience from other guests. 

Onward and Caveward!

Leaving that behind, I looked forward to checking into my cave home in Matera! The caves of Matera used to be a very poor area, the slums basically, and the so-called “shame of Italy” after WWII. So of course the Italian government did the only thing it could do to improve conditions. They tossed all of those nasty poor people out. That will clean things up fast!  

Now, lovely Matera holds the title of European Capital of Culture in 2019. Needless to say, things are a touch fancier now when those pesky poor people dug their homes out of caves in desperation.

I chose a relatively modest cave home, not being a fancy person myself. When I arrived in Matera, hoping for a change of luck in apartments, I could not find my cave. I messaged my host, a seemingly lovely woman named Paola, with a photo of my surroundings. I was told to wait there. 

Hooray for Kind Airbnb Hosts!

Kitchen in My Cave Home in Matera, Italy
Cute Kitchen in My Cave Home!

Within a couple of minutes, a very nice man greeted me, saying he was the husband of Paola. He spoke very little English so we got by on my Italian. We arrived at the cave home and I was very pleasantly surprised!

First, he was an incredibly helpful host, showing me all of the apartment and telling me if at any moment I needed anything, just to message as he and Paola lived nearby. Such a nice change from the three warning shots I got not to leave the key inside my Smurf home as it would automatically lock. I did not feel like help would be forthcoming if I made that fatal mistake in the Smurf Village. 

Let’s just say, Paola and her husband seem like the kind of people who have better things to do than worry about their cave home and what I might or might not be doing in it. I had free run of the heating AND the lights! Heck, I even left the one on the outside deck lit at night partly because 1) I could and 2) to discourage the teenagers that hung out late at night from any mischief. After all, I know what I was like as a teenager, and let’s just say minor vandalism seemed like fun then.

Exploring the Cave Homes

Chilling on my Cave Terrace in Matera, Italy
Chilling on my Cave Terrace

My particular cave is lovely! It is technically a studio but it is massive. It has a bathtub!!!  I haven’t been able to soak in a tub since August 23rd, not that I am counting the days. Some soaking time was definitely high on the agenda.

My cave has a lovely kitchen with some cute tiles and a little window where I can watch the people exploring the caves pass by as I am cooking. The bed is super comfy and I have a nice big TV with cable that I’ll never watch. The kitchen and den/bedroom both have a door to the outside terrace. The terrace is lovely, complete with a little string of lights to add a little twinkle to your evening. I ask you, who doesn’t love a little twinkle in their evening?

The first thing I did, after a quick trip to the store for some groceries, was soak in that big tub. As I did not have wine, I decided to get all fancy and pour some of my peach juice (don’t ever try this stuff, it is like crack) into a wine glass. Being Covid times, I always wash whatever dishes I am using from an Airbnb. As I was washing my wine glass, it literally cracked in my hands. Sign of something? You tell me. 

No Cave Suburbs for Tis 

Walking around outside, I am right in the heart of the cave homes. The view is stunning! In Matera, there are two sections of cave dwellings. I suppose one could call it the Twin Cities of Matera. Instead of Minneapolis and St. Paul, we have Sassi Barisano and Sassi Caveoso! I reside in the more populated area of Sassi Barisano. Apparently, Tis does not do the suburbs, even in Italy. 

As I have fallen in love with my cave, I am excited to explore the ones outside my cave door. 

Let the excavations, I mean explorations begin!

Ciao for now!


Lisa Tisdale

Lisa Tisdale has traveled all over the world, writing about her experiences and making local contacts. She recently completed a three-month trip through Italy, exploring her favorite country’s food, wine, and sites, and making new friends!

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