The renowned bread from Matera is made from local semolina flour “Senatore Cappelli”, sourdough, salt, and water. The dough is left to rise for several hours, then shaped into loaves and baked in a wood-fired oven. It has a firm, hard crust, while the crumb is golden in color, full of large bubbles that formed during the rising process.
It differs from other Italian breads, among other things, by its unique shape, which is dominated by a “crown” with three peaks. You can recognize it reliably by this shape. Locals say that this shape resembles the rugged Murgia mountains.
Even today, this bread is still a popular part of the local Italian cuisine. You can even buy small loaves, and some sellers sell it already sliced, as the hard crust, which protected the freshness of the crumb centuries ago, can be problematic for cutting nowadays.
Matera has a long history of bread production, and this bread is so famous that it has been granted the protected designation IGP. Interestingly, the protected designation DOP is also granted to bread from the nearby town of Altamura.
Difference between DOP and IGP labels
Both trademarks are assigned by the EU to food ingredients or products that are inextricably linked to a specific geographical area and its natural factors (climate, raw materials, production method, and traditions). The DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta – protected designation of origin) label guarantees that the production process from the first to the last stage takes place in a specific territory, making it the highest and strictest form of protection. The IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta – protected geographical indication) label requires that at least one of the production stages be carried out in a specific geographical area.
Accommodation in Matera
I recommend trying out the accommodation in a traditional Sassi cave style. You will be right in the historic center, everything is new and clean, it's pleasantly cool here in the summer and the spaces are heated for the winter months. It's possible that you'll be hosted by a talkative bartender from a nearby establishment, who prepared mixed drinks directly for James Bond. The last time I stayed here was in January 2022 and I would love to return again.