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Italy is teeming with places that make you feel like you are on a movie set – the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the Amalfi coast near Naples and Venice's lagoons come to mind.But there is one place in particular that for filmmakers and visitors alike evokes early Christian and even prehistoric times and that is Matera, off the usual tourist map in the southern region of Basilicata, part of "the boot" of Italy. Men are seen outside Matera's Sassi limestone cave dwellings in southern Italy April 30, 2015 . Bypassed by development in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and described by Carlo Levi as one of the most backward places in Italy in his famous 1945 book "Christ Stopped at Eboli," Matera remained so primitive until recent decades that it made the perfect stand-in for ancient Jerusalem.Matera is really two places in one – a thriving, modern city with restaurants, hotels, shops, museums, churches and the usual amenities tucked higher up the plateau from the ancient Sassi caves, which have been inhabited since prehistoric times – by some accounts for 9,000 years.
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