2021 turned out to be the year of the paths. Probably also because of the Covid-19 pandemic: we realized, in fact, that the experience of taking a walk allows people to travel and discover hidden landscapes and charming villages, while maintaining interpersonal distances and avoiding the crowded means of transport. In this way you spend time outdoors doing movement, which is useful for activating body and mind, thus improving the quality of life :)
Why choose the Cammino Materano?
Walking or cycling along the Cammino Materano means exploring fascinating and hidden areas of the Heel of Italy with the splendid backdrop of the maquis scrubland, and admiring the beauty that makes it so unique.
The itinerary follows the ancient Via Peuceta used in a past without trains or cars, by pilgrims, traders, shepherds and brigands.
The Cammino Materano is about 169 km long and touches 7 stages consisting of large cities such as Bari and Matera, but also small towns nestled in the Murgia, such as Santeramo in Colle or Cassano Murge.
By walking along Roman secondary roads, old cart roads, medieval streets and hidden paths, just to you will enjoy the most internal and unknown areas of the fascinating south Italy and the true essence of its ancient history.
All the stages of the Cammino Materano
Along the Via Peuceta following 5 daily itineraries, you will meet small villages and larger centers that will leave you speechless. Let's discover them now!
The Cammino Materano starts from the most important city of the region of Puglia: Bari. Famous especially in the Eastern and Orthodox world, Bari represents the centre of communication between different religions. Walking through this wonderful city you will have the opportunity to admire numerous architectural works in the Romanesque style, such as the Basilica of San Nicola containing the relics of the saint, and the Cathedral of San Sabino, the historic cathedral of the city. You will also see monuments with a more modern architecture as the Norman-Swabian castle, surrounded by a moat and overlooking the sea, the Teatro Petruzzelli, one of the largest theatres in Italy and the Piazza del Ferrarese, the heart of the city.
→ You cannot leave Bari without having tried its culinary delights such as the famous orecchiette with turnip tops, focaccia barese, panzerotti and raw seafood.
Continuing your journey on the Cammino Materano you will arrive in Bitetto. This is an ancient city in the heart of Puglia famous for its olives Termite, a delicious and juicy variety typical of the area.
In this town you can walk through the old town and admire the beauty of the cathedral of San Michele Arcangelo, in perfect Romanesque style dating back to 1335, but also the church of Santa Maria Veterana, the oldest of the city, built in 959. If, on the other hand, you feel like visiting a museum, you cannot miss the "Museum of the Devotion of Work" in which you can admire the arts, works and traditional crafts of the people of Bitetto and its surroundings.
Still not too far from Bari, there is Cassano Murge, the highest town in Puglia known for its proximity to the forest of Mercadante, a beautiful pine forest created in 1928.
Walking around Cassano you will also have the chance to admire the simple but wonderful Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which rises on the ruins of a much older Romanesque church, and the marquis palace, a baroque building which represents the symbol of the local culture. If, instead, you move just outside the city you can admire the Sanctuary-Convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli, a small but wonderful convent among the caves managed by the Augustinian Friars.
→ As far as the typical food is concerned, you cannot absolutely miss the famous "smooth black chickpea" of Cassano.
Santeramo in colle
The third stop of the Cammino Materano on foot is the town of Santeramo in Colle. Here you can admire several architectural works such as the parish of Santissimo Crocifisso, one of the religious buildings symbols of the country that stands on the highest point of the city, but also the Palazzo Marchesale Caracciolo-Carafa, dating back to 1586 and particularly important for its 16th-century structure wonderfully preserved.
As for the beautiful landscape, in Santeramo you can visit the Cave of Sant'Angelo, a natural cave in which you can find some human references, and the Park of Briganti, an oasis of fun for young and old people hidden in the woods.
A mandatory stop will be Altamura, a small town in the province of Bari known throughout the country thanks to its bread Altamura PDO, IGP lentils, and the discovery of Homo neanderthalensis occurred in these areas.
In this town you can admire the Altamura Cathedral, built in 1232 in Gothic style, and the Baldassarre Palace, built between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century.
→ Just outside Altamura, instead, you can visit the Pulo, that is one of the biggest closed basins of karstic origin present in the Murge area at 477 m above sea level.
Gravina in Puglia
For your penultimate stage of this adventurous journey you will reach Gravina di Puglia, a small town known mainly for being the headquarters of the Alta Murgia National Park.
In this area you can see many ancient churches and buildings, such as the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, which was built in 1092 in Romanesque style and then almost completely rebuilt in 1508 and the rock Church of San Michele delle Grotte, where you can still see the remains of skulls and bones that according to legend belong to the martyrs of the massacre of Gravina. Another ancient and majestic place is the viaduct bridge-aqueduct Madonna della Stella that, in ancient times, allowed the crossing of the Gravina torrent.
Among the natural beauties of Gravina you cannot miss the wood of Difesa Grande, a wonderful protected natural area, perfect for the local conservation of flora and fauna.
The final destination of this great adventure is the wonderful city of Matera, known mainly for the extraordinary nature of its Sassi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, but also for being the European Capital of Culture in 2019.
Within the magnificence of the Sassi, the two districts of the old city, you can see some rare beauties. Such as the Cathedral of Matera, built in the 13th century in Apulian Romanesque style, and the Crypt of Original Sin, a rock church with a unique and very special appearance, so as to be often dubbed "the Sistine Chapel of the rock". It is also strongly recommended to visit Casa Noha, the perfect example of private architecture in the Sassi, made of tuff and with high vaulted ceilings.
If, instead, you are a nature lover, you can visit the Park of the Murgia Materana, a protected natural area where you can admire many rock churches of the area.
Paths as an ideal destination
A slow-paced journey represents a unique and exciting way to travel and discover different places ever more closely, remaining in contact with nature.
It's a safe and fun experience that will give you the chance to challenge yourself while meeting many new people with the same passions as you.
If you are looking for this kind of adventure, you cannot miss our travel proposals along the Cammino Materano.
For lovers of MTB trails or for those who prefer to explore new trails on a Gravel bike, we have thought of the Puglia on Gravel bike: from Bari to Matera tour.
So what are you waiting for? Backpack, or bike bags, and go!