Matera, from Slum to Capital of Culture

1 minutes to read

In 2019 Matera (Basilicata, Central Italy) will be, along with Plovdiv in Bulgaria, the European Capital of Culture, an outcome that adds up to the reasons why this rocky and bright village should enter everybody’s “to go list”.

This town, though, haven’t always been what is now, a well-known wonderful location, it was just in the early 50s, in fact, that two thirds of the population moved from the cave dwellings carved into the mountainside (Sassi) where they lived to new State-founded project houses. This was possible because the conditions of extreme poverty and neglect were brought to light by Italian writer Primo Levi, who was writing in these terms about Matera in 1945:

On the floor dogs, sheeps, pigs, and goats were laying down. Each family has just one of those caves as a home, and they sleep altogether there, men, women, children, animals.

These words shocked the public and were important to start a process of change and development that saw other significant steps happening in 1983, when the locals were allowed to re-enter their homes in the old neighbourhoods, and in 1993, when it was named a UNESCOs Heritage Site. The transformation, the stories, the struggles, and the lives this place experienced have given a special atmosphere to this town and its people.

Surely worth the visit!


The author

Federico Spadoni

Federico Spadoni

I am Federico, I was born and raised in Italy. Sport and news fanatic and active volunteer. I am currently living in Athens, Greece. I write about the central parts of Italy.

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