A few kilometers from Matera and from the Jonian Coast of Metaponto, driving along the Park of the Murgia Materana and of the Rock Churches, the panoramic road will drive you to a hill on 365 meters on the sea level, where rises Montescaglioso, a town of ancient origins, then become an important settlement of the Great Greece or Magna Graecia (Megale Hellas) during the Greek domination in IV century b. C. 

Centuries later it became a strategical town for a community of Benedictine monks who, thanks to the privileges obtained during the Norman domination in the XI Century enlarged and embellished what is still today the most important monument: the Benedictine Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo dating to 1065, among the largest ones in Italy. The Abbey is on two levels and experienced a period of splendour from the XVI Century to 1784, when the monks moved to Lecce, owing to controversies with the feudal lords.

Several frescoes dating from the XV to the XVII century are present in the two cloisters, the Chapter Hall and library and among the many rooms of the Abbey, interesting museums are displayed to show old customs and traditions, like the Carnival or the so called “Cucibocca” (literally” muoth’ sewers”), mythological and  misterious figures wandering around the town at night on 05th January, whose origin is lost in time. Recent  restouration works will allow you to visit the undergrounds of the Abbey, where wine and olive oil were produced and stored, as well as snow. 

Soon after the visit of the Abbey, the tour goes on the acropolis of the town, among alleys, small squares, churches and view points, from which  you can enjoy a superb view of almost 360 degrees of the Regional Park of the Murgia Materana and of the Rock Churches, of the surrounding hills of Matera and the neighbor Apulia to see the landscape slowly sloping down in the plain of Metaponto, diving into the Ionian Sea.

A few steps from Montescaglioso lies the small but surpricing small village of Miglionico with less than di 3.000 inhabitants on 461 meters above sea level. Like Montescaglioso Miglionico is very rich in history.

The small village is famous for the Castello del Malconsiglio (literally translated Castle of the bad advice), which takes its name from the conspiracy of the Barons, held in 1485, who plotted against Frederick I of Aragon, King of Naples. The plot was discovered and the plotters were brutally murdered. Nowadays in the summer, it is possible to attend the historical re-enactment with many extras; on the contrary, by visiting the castle, it is possible to assist to it thanks to a very realistic multimedial show with a great scenografy.

The tour goes on by visiting the tangle of narrow streets, medieval buildings, great panoramic views on the surrounding valleys, until to reach the cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Maggiore, hosting the XV century polyptych by Cima da Conegliano, a splendid work dating back to 1499 that consists of 18 tables of four orders, many valuable paintings and a wood crucifixes dating from 1629 made by Frà Umile da Pietralia. The crucifix has undergone no renovations and can still be seen in the original colors and perfect anatomy that inspired the actor and film director Mel Gibson for  the realization of his “The Passion” in 2003.

Miglionico is also famous for his long gastronomy tradition of the dried figs, absolutely not to be missed, celebrated every year with a special festival in september and during the tour you will be able to taste them in all their varieties.

 Days available: Every day. Possibilities of pick-up in Matera or accomodations in the surrounding area according to your needs.
 Time Length:
6 hours plus the transfer times from/to Matera or surrounding areas. 
 Difficulty: Easy. 
 Don’t forget: Comfy shoes, camera and during summer water, cap and sun cream.

Price and Notes:

The tour is private but, upon request and according to availability, it is possible to make a Tour Sharing with other guests in order to reduce the costs. 

This Tour can be comined with other tours of Matera and of surrounding area, as well as wine & food tours. Please contact me for more information and price.