Matera: a view that kills

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There has always been a strong connection between James Bond and Italy. Valentino explores Matera.

Valentino Di Pietro

There has always been a strong connection between James Bond and Italy. From 1963 with the ending of From Russia with Love showcasing the iconic canals of Venezia, to 2021 with No Time to Die’s opening sequence taking place among the famous cobblestone streets of Matera. And it is there that I would like to take you today.

Located in Basilicata, a lovely region in the south of Italy, Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to at least three thousand years. The ancient part of the town is known as Sassi di Matera, which literally translates to “Matera’s rocks” referring to the habitations dug into the rock itself believed to be among the first ever human settlements. Needless to say, it is one of the most suggestive places you can visit and it’s no surprise that for the director Cary Joji Fukunaga it was love at first sight, and I dare anyone to not be captivated by this (not me of course, just focus on the stunning view behind):

It doesn’t even look real; there is a breath-taking scenery at every corner, the atmosphere is simply magical and you can feel it every time you stroll around the city. There isn’t just a particularly stand out iconic landmark to visit, but, if you are a Bond fan, the hunting of the various locations is exciting and it can easily take one full day or two if you want to take your time and immerse yourself in this surreal environment (which is what my wife and I did and what we would strongly recommend to anyone).

The first one we discovered was the view welcoming James and Madeleine to the city:

Luckily, because of the low season timing of our visit, not many people were around and I got the chance to practise my gun barrel pose!

After that, we visited what is now referred to as “doughnut square” where one of the most thrilling scenes of the film was shot:

The following day, we visited two locations which seem much closer in the movie, but are actually a relatively short drive away. First, we paid respects to “Vesper’s grave” (in reality the whole cemetery was built from scratch: this is just the top of the church Madonna delle Vergini which was unfortunately closed at the time of our visit):

The most attentive among you will have noticed that for this day I was borderline cosplaying the outfit Daniel Craig sports in the film, but I hope you can all understand that feeling of wanting to feel a bit like James Bond every once in a while and you’ll forgive this small excess.

Anyway, after taking some photos, we hopped back on our car with destination Gravina, where the amazing bridge jump stunt – which got us all hyped up when we saw the trailers – was shot:

I think you got the point… Matera is a fantastic destination for every Bond afficionado, whether you like No Time to Die or you just cannot accept its tragic ending. The food is amazing (especially the bread!), the wine is top notch, and the sceneries are unbelievable.

If you indeed decide to visit, do not hesitate to contact me so I can give you some useful tips on how to reach the locations shown or about the best restaurants we discovered.

Until then, salute!

Last modified: 1 February 2024