26 Gen Matera: a lesson for all of us. From national shame to Unesco heritage
I had never visited it;
I was very curious about it;
it is part of Unesco world heritage;
it is the European capital of culture for 2019;
many movies have been filmed there: Il Vangelo secondo Mattia by Pier Paolo Pasolini, L’uomo delle Stelle by Giuseppe Tornatore, The Passion by Mel Gibson, and shortly, Ben Hur’s remake as well, just to cite some of them;
it is very old and yet so charming.
These are some of the reasons why I chose Matera as the place where to celebrate 2016, and such choice proved quite interesting.
The best way to visit Matera and its famous beautiful “Sassi” is losing yourself within its old stoned roads and be intrigued by what meets your eyes. Well, a great deal depends on how curious your eyes are, to the eyes of who is with you, but that’s another story…
Here you have a short list of things to do and to see there, in our opinion:
To visit the interior of the “Chiesa del Purgatorio” and the exterior of the “Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi”.
To have a dish of “orecchiette”, wherever you want, the food is great everywhere.
To buy a “cucù” and to learn playing it, I still can’t… it is a typical object from the local handicraft and, as the name says, it has the shape and the sound of a cuckoo.
Never ever go (even if you are dying from thirst, freezing or starving) to the Hemingway’s bistrot, one of the most impolite places I’ve ever visited.
To visit one of the cave houses, to realize how the life of the peasants was.
To go alongside Matera’s Canyon, better called the “Gravine”: they are erosions alongside the Sassi, take a picture of them, this is what I did, and then posted it on Instagram.
To visit the Cathedral, it just had a fresh “restyling”.
To lodge in the Sassi, if possible.
If, like me, you love handmade, visit “Crea che ricrea”, a shop within the Sasso Barisano. Beyond its gorgeous sign, it has stoles and hats handmade by the owner, her mother and her daughter, their creations are all handmade using precious yarns of wool and silk. Within the shop is a Filo-Cafè, a meeting place for the older and the younger to share ideas and secrets about yarning. I loved it!
Today, Matera is wonderful, but it hasn’t always been like that: right after the second world war, the Sassi were overpopulated and not equipped with the basic health conditions; men and animals lived together in the caves and this facilitated the spread of many diseases. Palmiro Togliatti even defined it a “National Shame”. Since 1952, renovation works have been started, until in 1993, the Sassi were declared part of the Unesco world heritage, the first place in Southern Italy.
The lesson I learned by this city is that, whatever we have been in the past, whatever our origins, our life path, we can still transform it, give value and new life to it, as Matera did.
Because in the end, if we are better persons today is also thanks to all those mistakes we made: to the wrong friends we chose, the sentences we’d better not told, the men we kissed then and we’d never kiss today, the jobs that didn’t fit for us, that picture where we’re not such a beauty, the exam we passed with the minimum, that meeting when we said the only thing that should not be said… Now maybe no one is going to call us “world heritage”, but someone is surely going to appreciate the naturalness that made us grow and become who we are today.
I was wearing:
– Bonsui dress
– Orion London coat
– Sermoneta Gloves
– Vintage clutch
– Aldo heels