When Matera was elected european cultural Capital in 2019, its inhabitants are descended many on the place Veneto full of joy. Humble candidate in the face of rival powerful (Venice and Florence), the small town with a historic centre millennium of 65 000 inhabitants was able to show its determination to win this challenge. Founded on a principle of collective participation, the project led by the Turin Paolo canopy has a different (in charge of promoting the olympics in 2006, in particular) was able to convince by playing the card of culture in symbiosis with the landscape.

The hotel the Sextentio Grotte Della Civita, Matera. SDP

Land poor and barren, with the only tourist asset of the Sassi, the amazing cave dwellings decorated centuries ago in the limestone rock, Matera placed on its image of terra incognita of the South of Italy. Even if Greeks, Romans, Saracens, and Arabs are spent in Lucania (roman name of Basilicata), they have left few remains.

In these burroni (canyons) located about two hours drive from the beaches of the ionian Coast, we grow olives and pagan legends. This is where Carlo Levi, a doctor and intellectual anti-fascist Turin was exiled by the regime of Mussolini in 1935. There he discovered the misery deep of the many families of farmers and living with their ass in the caves narrow, where there is unhealthy and life-threatening diseases.

Very attached to this population, Levi, published in 1945 his famous story Christ stopped at Eboli, describes this hell dante without electricity or sewer, which will trigger a political awareness. De Gasperi, the president of the Council referred to this area of the “shame of Italy” and re-houses residents in smaller buildings, workers, in the high part of the city. When you discover the caves of Matera, you feel the weight of History. Qualified of Jerusalem, of cinema, of Bethlehem to the big screen, this “biblical land” served as the backdrop to The Passion of the Christ (2003) Mel Gibson. Before him, Pasolini had turned his Gospel according to st. Matthew (1964).

A natural setting, and grandiose Matera, a tangle of houses carved in the rock. Luca Lancieri

In 1993, Unesco, in fact, the first cultural landscape inscribed on the world Heritage of humanity. Matera is reborn. Some, among the 2 000 income in the Sassi, enlarged and brought up to standard, develop a new type of accommodation and also cultivate an art of living eco-friendly as the Sextantio, a hotel of 18 rooms, beautifully appointed in a style rock (room from € 150 ; Sextantio.it). Even so, Arturo (room 80 € ; Larturo.com), a guest house very well kept by the owner of the wine bar of the same name.

over The alleys, we stop at Il Buongustaio (Ilbuongustaiomatera.it), the grocery store where you will find the best peperoni cruschi (peppers dried) and the authentic cheese caciocavallo. And then we have dinner at Area 8, a bar-restaurant very arty (Area8.it). In addition to the famous cuccú, a rooster terracotta supposed to ward off the evil eye, is reported in his luggage, figurines, painted ceramics, and objects out of papier-mache hand-made by Mario Daddiego to It Bottegaccio (Ilbottegaccio.it). It is in this natural setting grandiose that the programme Matera 2019, led by the French Ariane Bieou, which offers a series of events throughout the year.


Air France (36.54 ; Airfrance.com) operates a flight from Paris to Bari from 208 € (with correspondence to Rome more often), and then a 50-minute drive. More direct flights from the spring. Matera 2019 (Matera-basilicata2019.it): on 19 January, the opening ceremony with 2 019 european musicians ; “The Renaissance view from the South” (from 19 April to 19 August), an exhibition showing the links between the artists of the quattrocento and the Mediterranean.

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