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The city of stone

Matera: between lights and shadows

[Tripper: Paola]
ITImpara l’arteMatera, Basilicata

Retracing the history of Matera back in time, we discover a controversial narrative between lights and shadows, which gathers in itself such a quantity of historical events as to make it unique.
From Capital of Culture 2019 to a thriving nineteenth-century city, Matera's fortune began in the Renaissance when it became the capital of Basilicata and a crossroads of important trade.

Scorcio di Matera

Glimpse of Matera

Selfie a Matera

Selfie in Matera


In between, however, starting from when the capital was moved to Potenza in 1806, there was a progressive decline until reaching the darkest years, between the two world wars, where collective impoverishment led people to live inside the caves of calcarenite excavated in the Sassi. It was an unworthy way of life, where entire families shared very small spaces that also housed animals. The hygienic conditions were precarious, there was no running water, but only tanks that collected rainwater, there was no electricity, but only the little light that entered through the openings. Damp, dirty, but still a shelter for 16,000 people who no longer had anything. Matera fell into oblivion, until in 1950 Alcide De Gasperi visited the city and brought the shameful conditions in which it found itself to the attention of public opinion. He enacted a law for the evacuation of the caves and for the reallocation of the inhabitants in the new houses built in the suburbs.
The Matera that we appreciate today founds the origin of its rebirth in those years, but a series of interventions to re-brand the image of the city are also accomplices. In 1993, the Sassi were elected by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, the cinema finds a perfect film set here and the resurrection finds its completion when Minister Franceschini in 2014 names the capital city of Culture 2019.
The game is done, the light shines again and today we can tell this incredible story while the enchantment envelops us.

Matera rises in a spectacular natural context, close to the canyon carved by the Gravina stream. On one side stands the city with the Sasso Caveoso, the Sasso Barisano, and the new districts, on the other the Murgia of Matera stretches out with its ancient caves.
Getting lost in its alleys, entering a cave that has become a museum to imagine that poor life up close, are a must not to be missed.
We also highly recommend a dinner with a view of the Sassi to be actors in the evening scenography of the city, when the diffused lights transform it into an iconic postcard nativity scene.
But Matera on the surface is not the only wonder that this concentrated place of history can offer. There is an underground Matera where one of the largest cisterns in Europe is located: the Long Palombaro, which extends under the central Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
The cistern, completed in 1882, connects several pre-existing caves and was used to offer a greater reserve of water to the growing population. It was abandoned when the aqueduct was built after the First World War and was forgotten to be rediscovered only in the nineties.

The people of Matera, proud of their history of light and shadow, will certainly be able to tell you the most varied anecdotes and bring you inside the authenticity of this territory.
We are convinced that the 45 million euros spent to organize the events in Matera - Capital of Culture 2019, were a good investment to emphasize the unique history of this city.

Selfie a Matera

Dinner with a view (Regiacorte restaurant)

Dentro al Palombaro lungo

Inside the Palombaro Lungo