Imagine Paleolithic people coming here to find these caves near fresh water, flowers, wild game,” he told me from the terrace of his gallery in the Sassi, which has a panoramic view. “You don’t think of a cave being complex architecturally,” says American architect Anne Toxey, author of Materan Contradictions, who has been studying the Sassi for over 20 years. “It became a city of ghosts.” Some Materan officials suggested that the whole district be walled up and forgotten. 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The first cave hotels opened soon after, and city authorities began offering 30-year leases at nominal cost to tenants who agreed to renovate the caves, under the supervision of conservation experts. Od roku 1993 je "Sassi di Matera", najstaršia časť mesta, zapísaná zozname svetového dedičstva UNESCO Dejiny. (Being a troglodyte, as locals cheerfully refer to themselves—the word’s literal meaning is “cave dweller”—evidently doesn’t preclude being stylish.) Here, they never had a golden age. This was 100% of all the recorded Matera's in Canada. “What you see on the surface is only 30 percent. In the icy interior, light filtering through a collapse in the ceiling revealed the faded remains of frescoes on the scarred walls. Instead, the ancient laneways became overgrown and decrepit, and the Sassi soon gained a reputation for crime, attracting drug dealers, thieves and smugglers. V jeho okolí sa nachádzajú najvýznamnejšie miesta pobytu jaskynného človeka v oblasti Stredomoria. After the settlement of the Normans in Apulia, Matera was ruled by William Iron-Arm from 1043. Though scholars continue to debate the date the dwellings were first occupied in Matera, and the continuity of their subsequent occupation, the area of what is now Matera is believed to have been settled since the Palaeolithic (10th millennium BC). In 1514, however, the population rebelled against the oppression and killed Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano. “Obviously, there was a truth there, the houses were unhealthy, conditions were terrible. With its solid pillars carved from the rock and a vault height of more than fifteen metres, it is a veritable water cathedral, which is navigable by boat. Like other cisterns in the town, it collected rainwater that was filtered and flowed in a controlled way to the Sassi. Ponte, who grew up in the modern part of Matera, which sprawls along the Piano (the “flat”) above the ravine, was one of the first to take advantage of this ready-made real estate. Even in the 19th century, few travelers ventured through its arid, desolate landscapes, which were known to be full of briganti, or brigands. It’s difficult to imagine that Matera’s ancient warren was known not too long ago as “the shame of Italy” for its dismal poverty. Introducing himself as Giovanni, he led me to a stone house, where one of his friends, a sun-parched farmer named Piero, was making cheese. Naturally, my cave was Wi-Fi enabled. “I ran up to hug him and nearly knocked him over!”), Later, as we dried out in a warm café, Signor Nicoletti said that he had been glad to see his old home again, but was in no hurry to go back. In the 17th century Matera was handed over to the Orsini and then became part of the Terra d'Otranto, in Apulia. Much of the unique architecture, the group discovered, could easily be saved. It felt like an Italian version of “This Is Your Life” as we gathered in a café at the top of the Sassi. Levi singled out the Sassi for their “tragic beauty” and hallucinogenic aura of decay—“like a schoolboy’s idea of Dante’s Inferno,” he wrote. “The Sassi are like a Swiss cheese, riddled with tunnels and caverns,” remarks Peppino Mitarotonda, an artist who works on renovations with a local cultural group, the Zétema Foundation. Some of these more recent facilities have the shape of houses submerged in the earth.[10]. "[7] In the 7th and 8th centuries the nearby grottos were colonised by both Benedictine and Basilian monastic institutions. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. He said, ‘They died from hunger, malaria, I don’t want to remember.’”, In the late 1950s, as the Sassi’s last inhabitants were being evacuated from their houses, about two dozen Materan students, who had grown up in the more modern, affluent world of the Piano, decided to rebel against their city’s notoriety. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. “The paradox is that ‘historical preservation’ can generate so much change,” says architect Toxey. Because the sheep weighed about 8–10 kg., when they cooked it they invited all the neighbours and they enjoyed dance, music and wine. After a visit in 1950, Italian Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi was so appalled that he set in motion a draconian plan to relocate the Sassi’s entire population to new housing developments. “Matera is one of the oldest living cities in the world in terms of continuity,” Antonio Nicoletti, an urban planner from Matera, told me. He suddenly stopped next to a fractured staircase: “There used to be a well here, where I’d get the water as a little boy,” he said, visibly shaken. So the statue of Madonna entered in the city on a triumphal wagon. As the ripe cloud of steam hung in the room, he scooped out a scalding sample and offered it to me. In the 1950s, the entire population of roughly 16,000 people, mostly peasants and farmers, were relocated from the Sassi to new housing projects in an ill-conceived government program, leaving it an empty shell. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Renewed vision and investment led to the cave dwellings becoming a noted historic tourism destination, with hotels, small museums and restaurants – and a vibrant arts community. There would be children playing, men gossiping, women shelling peas with their neighbors. “Then it’s just a museum.” Access to schools, hospitals and stores of the Piano remains difficult and there are bitter disputes over whether car traffic should be allowed on the Sassi’s only road. Matera is the terminal station of the Bari-Matera, a narrow gauge railroad managed by Ferrovie Appulo Lucane. “You can find older cities in Mesopotamia, but they have not been occupied in modern times. The first government archaeologists arrived in the early 1980s. When she arrived to the periphery of the city, she got off the wagon and asked farmer to take her message to the bishop. “We asked ourselves a simple question: Who are we?” recalls one of the leaders, Raffaello De Ruggieri, today. At the same time, the modern repurposing of the Sassi’s historic interiors has been endlessly inventive. “But now the circle is wider. A leather-skinned shepherd wielding a wooden crook was driving podolico cattle to pasture with a phalanx of dogs. There were also a large number of little superficial canals (rasole[what language is this?]) “But I was blown away by their intricate structures.” The most elaborate stonework dates from the Renaissance, when many caves were adorned with new facades, or had their ceilings extended to make vaulted rooms. Levi painted a vivid portrait of a forgotten rural world that had, since the unification of Italy in 1870, sunk into a desperate poverty. Matera’s real claim to fame, though, and the reason it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the extensive series of cave dwellings ("i sassi") southeast of town, first inhabited by Benedictine and Basilian monks. Whole house structures were discovered where one can see how the people of that era lived. The interior is on the Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles. It is also served by the SS407, SS665 and SS106 national road. Another legend talks about a destruction of the wagon: Saracens besiege Matera and the citizens, to protect the painting of Madonna, hid it on a little wagon. Things to do in Matera Gain an insight at Casa Noha. The crapiata is a simple dish of water, chickpeas, beans, wheat, lentils, potatoes and salt. Many relocated families pretended they came from other parts of southern Italy. Along with cave hotels, there are now cave restaurants, cave cafés, cave galleries and cave clubs. La Scaletta published its own book on the cave churches in 1966, and began lobbying for conservation funds, supported by the writer Carlo Levi, now a senator, who declared the Sassi to be an architectural treasure “on a par with the Grand Canal of Venice.” In the late 1970s, De Ruggieri purchased a ruined mansion on the fringe of the Sassi—“for the price of a cappuccino!” he jokes—and began restoring it, despite fears that it was dangerous. Matera preserves a large and diverse collection of buildings related to the Christian faith, including a large number of rupestrian churches carved from the calcarenite rock of the region. In this message she said she was Christ's mother. The largest cistern has been found under Piazza Vittorio Veneto. In the church of Madonna delle Tre Porte, images of the Virgin Mary date back to the 15th century A.D. and are executed in an informal style, Michele Zasa, a guide at the Murgia plateau, explained: “You can see that his Madonnas are not queen-like figures or remote, heavenly virgins typical in Byzantine art, but fresh-faced and open, like our own country girls.”. The pioneers of Circolo la Scaletta, now in their 70s, are handing over the reins to a younger generation of Italian preservationists. It dates back to the 13th century and it belongs to the Byzantine school.[15]. that fed pools and hanging gardens. So the name might mean Madonna of defense. The main altar and the interior frescoes were cleaned, and missing pieces of moldings, reliefs, and other adornments were reconstructed from photographic archives or surrounding fragments.[9]. Why Was Benjamin Franklin’s Basement Filled With Skeletons? “When there was a chance to escape, I took it.”, “My father didn’t tell me about his lost brothers until I was 18,” Antonio confided. “But when they moved, that community simply disintegrated.”, As we talked, a young woman peered at us through the small window of the cave house. Over the course of its history, Matera has been occupied by Greeks, Romans, Longobards, Byzantines, Saracens, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese, and Bourbons. “We had no idea these were here until we started,” he said, as we walked inside the now-immaculate cone-shaped spaces. Matera was built above a deep ravine called Gravina of Matera that divides the territory into two areas. The book’s title, referring to the town of Eboli near Naples, suggested that Christianity and civilization had never reached the deep south, leaving it a pagan, lawless land, riddled with ancient superstitions, where some shepherds were still believed to commune with wolves. ¡Cuba Libre! : Che, Fidel and the Improbable Revolution that Changed World History,The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games and Napoleon's Privates: 2500 Years of History Unzipped. Matera's bread is a local bread made with durum wheat, dating to the Kingdom of Naples, and typically featuring three incisions, symbolizing the Holy Trinity. Many of them are really little more than small caverns, and in some parts of the Sassi a street lies on top of another group of dwellings. [13], Different hypotheses are attributed to the name of Madonna della Bruna : the first says that the noun derives from the Lombard high-medieval term brùnja (armor/protection of knights). And the ancient rural culture is surprisingly resilient. Date: Recensăminte sau birourile de statistică - grafică realizată de Wikipedia. Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the "Sassi di Matera". The container was closed with a wheat dough before being placed on low fire powered with the charcoal. “Only 35 percent of the cave residences had been declared dangerous,” De Ruggieri says, “but 100 percent of them were evacuated.” The abandoned architectural treasures included many rupestrian, or rock-hewn, churches, covered with priceless Byzantine frescoes. “The only real problem of the Sassi was economic: It was poverty that was making the Sassi unhealthy.”. Visitors to Matera can follow metal walkways through an enormous 16th-century cistern complex under the main plaza, with chambers some 50 feet deep and 240 feet long, which were discovered in 1991 and explored by scuba divers. Ever since the excavation of Pompeii brought grand tours to Naples in the 18th century, historical sites have lured foreign travelers to impoverished outposts. Visits tend to be arranged by word of mouth. Despite Matera’s sudden upscale swing, the homespun eccentricity that marked the revival of the Sassi has persisted. Vote Now! It has three large towers, while twelve were probably included in the original design. Levi’s book caused an uproar in postwar Italy, and the Sassi became notorious as la vergogna nazionale, the disgrace of the nation. On 17 October 2014, Matera was declared European Capital of Culture for 2019, together with Bulgaria's second-largest city, Plovdiv. There is an underground swimming pool, evoking an ancient Roman thermae, with lights creating hypnotic water patterns on the ceiling, and a contemporary art museum, MUSMA, with its own underground network, highlighting—what else?—sculpture. He pretended to clean his glasses as tears welled up in his eyes. The ancient town grew up on one slope of the rocky ravine created by a river that is now a small stream, and this ravine is known locally as "la Gravina". This makes it potentially one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the world. Municipality: Matera", "Recasting Materan Identity: The Warring And Melding Of Political Ideologies Carved In Stone", World Monuments Fund – Rupestrian Churches of Puglia and the City of Matera, "Robin Schulz "Sun Goes Down" (Lilja, dir. “Matera is a model for making use of the past without being overwhelmed by it,” says American-born novelist Elizabeth Jennings, who has lived here for 15 years. Matera is not very well suited for wheelchairs or anything of the sort. Matera er ein by sør i Italia. Piero was boiling ricotta in a vat and stirring it with a cudgel the length of a gondola’s pole. Later the meat was cut and so ready to be cooked. “We all had different politics, but we shared the goal of restoring the Sassi.” They organized volunteer garbage collectors to shovel out cisterns filled with debris and churches scattered with used hypodermic needles. “I just wanted a place to sneak off for a cigarette with my friends,” he said. One afternoon, I followed a trail that left the Sassi into the wild ravine and connected to paths once used by pagan shepherds. Evacuated in 1952, the population was relocated to modern housing, and the Sassi (Italian for "stones") lay abandoned until the 1980s. Built in an Apulian Romanesque architectural style, the church has a 52 m tall bell tower, and next to the main gate is a statue of the Maria della Bruna, backed by those of Saints Peter and Paul. You know that travelers’ tastes have come full circle when hotel guests are clamoring to live like troglodytes. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs and hotels there, and the city is amongst the fastest growing in southern Italy. Územie Matery je osídlené už od paleolitu. Architectural historian Anne Parmly Toxey writes that "The date of Matera's founding is debated; however, the revered work of the city’s early chroniclers provides numerous, generally accepted accounts of Goth, Longobard, Byzantine, and Saracen sieges of the city beginning in the eighth century and accelerating through the ninth century AD.


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