12 things to do and see in Matera

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Valery Aloyants

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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12 things to do and see in Matera

When it comes to the south, unifying readings almost always prevail. Both when it is spoken well and, on the contrary, when the delays with respect to the rest of the country are highlighted. Those who want to go beyond clichés and overly simplistic readings will do well to visit Matera, the city of the Sassi. Not only the old part but also the one resulting from the 1956 Master Plan, one of the most successful examples of urban planning in Italy. After the law for the displacement of the Sassi signed by Alcide de gasperi in 1954, the Italian state called upon to design the “new city” for sociologists, anthropologists, architects and urban planners. Thus the new residential districts of Matera were born. The town planner Luigi Piccinato, architect of the master plan, was inspired by the "Scandinavian" model by separating the new urban agglomerations with extensive green areas in order to reverse what had been the trend of the city for centuries: that is to live in the Sassi, moreover many kilometers away from the fields to be cultivated. Briefly said of the genesis of the new Matera, it must be added that in the last twenty years we are also witnessing the "rebirth" of its old part. Rebirth began in 1993 with the inscription of the city among the sites protected by Unesco and continued, ten years later, with the film "The Passion" (English title) by Mel Gibson. Cinema, therefore, as a vehicle for the tourist promotion of the territory, favoring, among other things, the deepening of everything that had been done and written previously: the reference is to "The Gospel according to Matthew", another film discussed in 1964 by Pier Paolo Pasolini and, above all, to the sad pages of "Christ stopped at Eboli" the novel by Carlo Levi. A new ferment, therefore, which led to the designation of the city as "European Capital of Culture" in 2019. Happy reading.

1 Casa Noha

Transformed by FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) into multimedia information center, Casa Noha is the very first thing to visit in Matera. Inside this noble palace, half excavated in the tuff, since March 2014 it is possible to find all information necessary for an informed tour of the city. On the walls of the house a documentary which traces the different historical phases through which Matera also clarifies some aspects that are sometimes not sufficiently detailed in the tourist guides and information available on the market. The complex relationship of man with the surrounding environment; the choice to live in the stones; the historical-cultural influences that have settled over the millennia: these are the topics that are explored here, providing a first outline for the tourists who increasingly come to the city. For information on timetables, ticket prices and promoted events: www.visitfai.it/casanoha/la-tua-visita/info-e-orari

2 Sasso Caveoso

It is one of the two "Sassi di Matera" (the other is Sasso Barisano). The origin of the name is uncertain: some say it is in relation to the high number of cavities; some, instead, to the particular amphitheater shape, similar, in fact, to the "Roman cavea". Compared to Sasso Barisano, this district extends south of the "Civita", the third district which together with the two aforementioned forms the historic center of Matera, since 1993 under UNESCO protection. To see in this Sasso, the church of San Pietro Caveoso, built at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and, above all, the "House-Cave" perfect example of the ancient rock architecture of the city, still furnished with furniture and tools of the peasant world to promote understanding of the frugal lifestyle that has always distinguished the labor class of Matera.

3 Sasso Barisano

Like Sasso Caveoso, here too the origin of the name is uncertain: there are those who support "Barisano" both in reference to the fact that the district "looks" at the city of Bari; others, on the other hand, support both the subsequent adjustment of the surname "Varisius", a Roman family formerly present in the city. Sasso Barisano is more built than Sasso Caveoso. At least as regards the facades of churches and houses, while the interior spaces continue to be mainly dug into the tuff. It must be said that of the three districts that make up the historic center of Matera it was the first to be restored, and this is the reason why there are more shops, restaurants and accommodation facilities. To see the three churches of San Pietro Barisano, Sant'Agostino e Madonna of Virtue and St. Nicholas of the Greeks.

4 The Cave-House of Vico Solitario

The House-Cave of Vico Solitario is the perfect compendium of the lifestyle of the laborers and shepherds who lived in the Sassi. A unique environment, only partially excavated, inhabited by families of up to 10 people, plus of course the mulo and hens. The first was for reaching the fields; the hens, on the other hand, to lay eggs which, together with legumes, guaranteed the right protein intake to a diet very poor in meat, at least compared to current standards. In the center the table for eating, while on the side was the bed with a large mattress stuffed with corn. A little further on, a cistern for collecting rainwater and another cavity that served as accommodation for the mule (the hens, on the other hand, were under the bed). These, more or less, the living conditions of thousands of Matera until the end of the 50s of the last century, when it was finally realized the need to free the people from a similar context. A lifestyle which, however, half a century later, was re-evaluated frugality compared to the exaggerations of the modern civilization of consumption. This, in the vast majority of cases, is the effect that the visit of this house in Sasso Caveoso, not far from the rock church of San Pietro. The Casa Cave is open all year round, including Sundays and public holidays. Open all day from 9:30 to 20.30. The ticket costs € 3,00.

5 The Cathedral of the Madonna della Bruna and Sant'Eustachio

Overlooking the "Sasso Barisano", the Matera Cathedral it rises in the highest part of the city. It is a majestic temple in Apulian-Romanesque style built between 1230 and 1270. Over the centuries it has undergone various transformations, especially inside, while the outside has remained almost intact. In 2003, following a series of collapses in the two side naves (the church has three naves and a Latin cross), a new and complex period of restoration was necessary. Season that lasted for over 10 years and which brought to light, among other things, two frescoed crypts of the twelfth century that are part of the original structure. The entrance portal surmounted by the statue of the Madonna della Bruna, protector of Matera; as well as very beautiful is the central rose window dominated by San Michele Arcangelo intent on crushing the dragon. There are two monumental doors on the side facade of the church: “Porta di piazza”, with a bas-relief of the prophet Abraham; and “Porta dei leoni” so called for the statues of the two lions that adorn it. Inside, however, there is to see the "Last Judgment", a cycle of frescoes on Paradise, Purgatory and Hell also this one that came to light as a result of restoration work, and this too can be placed between the 200th and 300th centuries. Not only. Woe to forget the beautiful stone nativity scene made by the Persio, an artistically very active family of Matera in the 500s, to whom we also owe the bas-reliefs St. Eustace e San Theopista in the lateral niches the entrance portal.

6 Il Palombaro Lungo

Bottom Vittorio Veneto square, in the heart of Matera, there is a huge cistern (over 15 meters deep for a collection of about 5000 cubic meters of water) built in the first half of the 800th century by the then Bishop Mons. Antonio di Macco. The well, through a dense system of canals, collected water from a natural source located at the foot of the Tramontano Castle in order to satisfy the growing demand from the city. A complex work of hydraulic engineering, not surprisingly, by someone renamed the “Duomo d'Acqua”, to compare it with the stupendous Cathedral on the top of the Civita. The visit of "Palombaro Lungo", this is the name of this cistern (from the Latin "Plumbarius" term used to indicate those who lined the pipes of the aqueducts with lead) is important for understanding the "genius loci”Of Matera, a proud people of farmers and shepherds who have been able to adapt perfectly to a difficult, stony and impervious nature.

Working Time:
>> every day 10: 00/13: 00 and 15: 00/18: 50
Ticket: 3,00 € uro
Free admission: Children under 18

7 Park of the Murgia Materana

Il "Park of the Murgia Materana" covers a huge area between the state road 7, the provincial road Matera – Ginosa – Montescaglioso and the state road 175. We are in the presence of one of the most beautiful rock landscapes in the world (which also includes the "Sassi") rightly famous for the numerous churches and their set of frescoes dating back to the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. Not surprisingly, the full name of the area is "Regional Archaeological Historical Natural Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Materano". That said, without detracting from these extraordinary religious testimonies, the Murgia Materana Park is also something else. For example, i villages of San Nicola all'Ofra and Cristo La Selva, or even more famous belvedere of Murgia Timone, from which most of the photos available online are taken with the Sassi illuminated in the evening. But that's not all, because there are there to see plant species fauna, the waterways, the variety of rocks and many other details for each of which there is an excursion complete with an authorized guide. To find out more about the history of the Park, the current activities and the excursions that can be practiced, visit: www.parcomurgia.it

8 Crypt of Original Sin

The Crypt of Original Sin is one of the most evocative places in Southern Italy, a fundamental testimony of early medieval painting. Not surprisingly, the town, which is located about 10 kilometers from Matera, is also called the “Sistine Chapel” of wall painting. Along the walls of this one cave church in fact, hundreds of frescoes have been painted with scenes depicting the Old and New Testament. The works, all located around the 1963th century, were discovered in XNUMX by a group of Matera lovers of their land, after the cavity had been used for centuries by the shepherds of the plateau to shelter their livestock. Thanks to the excellent restoration wanted by Zétema Foundation of Matera in concert with theHigher Institute for Conservation and Restoration, the Crypt is now fully usable and it is therefore an unforgivable sin not to visit it for those who happen to be near Matera. To visit the Crypt of the Original Sin is reservation required. For more information on visiting hours and prices: www.criptadelpeccatooriginale.it

9 Domenico Ridola National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Matera is the oldest of Basilicata. It was established in 1911, with a national law (9 of 1911 February 100) after the previous year, to be precise June 21, 1910, the Doctor Domenico Ridola (1841-1932) he had donated his collection of prehistoric relics to the state. All artifacts found in the vast area of ​​Matera ranging from the Neolithic to the VI, V and IV centuries BC Ridola, a doctor with a passion for archeology, in 1913, with the legislature in progress, also became Senator of the Republic after having been twenty years ago mayor of Matera.

Working Time
>> Monday 14: 00/20: 00
>> Tuesday-Sunday 9: 00/20: 00

Closure: Monday morning, December 25th and January 1st

Ticket: 2,50 € uro; reduced 1,25 € uro; free for children under 18 and over 65.

10 The Passion Tour in the Sassi

The "film tourism"Or, as the British and Americans say, the"movie-induced torurism“, Is a rapidly growing segment, especially in a country like Italy that has given so much - and continues to give - to the film market. In the case of Matera, then, it was important for the definitive revitalization of the city which began in 1993 with UNESCO protection. The reference is to "The Passion of the Christ”The beautiful and controversial film by Mel Gibson that traces the last hours of the life of Jesus from the arrest in the garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion on Golgotha. Much of the film was shot in the Sassi di Matera which - it is said - Mel Gibson fell in love at first sight. After all, forty years before him, to be precise in 1964, in these same places Pierpaolo Pasolini had shot "The Gospel according to Matthew", another controversial film for critics and audiences. In the wake of Gibson's work, packages with a lot of guided tour of the film locations. An unusual and, above all, different way of visiting the Sassi which, however, has the indisputable advantage of attracting people from all over the world. Just search a bit on the net to get a more detailed idea and decide who to rely on.

11 The Matera cuisine

The gastronomic tradition of Matera is linked to agriculture and pastoralism. A earth cuisine, therefore, where they are the masters vegetable, vegetables e cheese. Particular mention for the bread of Matera, towards which the local population has always had an attitude of true worship, accustomed, rightly, to considering bread the most important dish on the table. Not surprisingly, the bread of Matera has the IGP mark (Protected Geographical Indication) to underline the indissoluble link with the territory of origin. This bond, in addition to passing through the flours used and the related manufacturing process, is also explained by the habit of the Materan families of marking the dough to be baked with a wooden stamp. Imprinting the family crest on the bread was important, since in the vast majority of cases the bread was homemade and the oven was used only for cooking. Hence the need to distinguish one loaf from the other and at the same time emphasize the uniqueness, strength and dignity of each family unit. A collection of these wooden stamps can be found inside the Domenico Ridola Museum. Absolutely to try it Ciallèdd, stale bread soup with potatoes, onions, eggs, turnips and other vegetables.

12 The surroundings of Matera

The surroundings of Matera are no less suggestive than the city. Earlier we mentioned the big one Park of the Murgia Materana, located on the border with Puglia. And it is in this region that I recommend you to go to deepen the culture and traditions of the area, regardless of geographical boundaries. For example, just 20 kilometers from Matera there is Altamura, a city in the province of Bari which, however, from an environmental and also a historical-cultural point of view, has many things in common with city ​​of the Sassi. Starting with bread, DOP brand, passing through thearchitecture (to see the Cathedral) until karst cavities present. Celebrate the Altamura Caves, rich in stalactites and stalagmites.

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