By Antonio Malara
On March 2015 I put together the same team of my trip in Assisi, formed by me, my sister and my cousin, the reason was still the same; a rhythm gymnastics tournament. Even this time the sport was more an excuse to visit some places which were more or less on the way to it. The tournament was in central Italy and I thought that it was a good idea to take a longer road and stop to visit Matera before to reach our destination. I think I was a kid when I last saw Matera and I was so motivated to visit it again. This city has been declared UNESCO heritage in 1993 because of its “Sassi” (which are two old neighborhoods with houses built inside the rocks) and its popularity is growing worldwide. Beyond this and because of its territory, Matera has been the set for many movies, like ‘Il Vangelo secondo Matteo” by Pier Paolo Pasolini, “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson and lately they shot here the last James Bond movie. The first two movies tell the story of Christ so in some way Matera it gave me also a spiritual meaning even if I’m an atheist.
Matera is only four hours away from my city, we left around eight in the morning and at noon we were up in the city. After we found a parking we went looking for a restaurant. To be honest this duty belonged to my sister and she decided for one of the first place we saw. We had a nice lunch eating local food which was so delicious and after that, full of energy we started our exploration. Just a few step away from our restaurant there was “Belvedere Piazzetta Pascoli”, it’s incredible how you walk beside regular buildings then you take a small entrance and you had a breathtaking view! From “Piazzeta Pascoli” you have all city in front and beneath you, with a stone color effect and and curved lines shape, it gave me the impression of a static and dynamic landscape at the same time. On the far left it was possible to see the Basilica Bell Tower while almost in front of the “Belvedere” there’s the Big rock of “San Pietro in Monte Errone” which is impressive for its shape and size.
We left the place and we walked down first through tiny alleys then we took a much large road which brought us till “Chiesa di San Pietro Caveoso”. This church it’s just beneath the the big rock of Monte Errone, when you watch the church from the square in front of it, the rocks it’s in the right while on the left there’s another breathtaking view. This landscape it opens over the canyon and the hills, with the river on the bottom. The singular thing of the hills is that they’re full of caves which are visible even from this side. Beside the right side of the church there’s an arch which brought us till the best part of the city or at least my favorite place. Here we found an entire series of ancient homes, most of them were built inside the rock, there was also a necropolis and all the area was perpendicular over the canyon. We had much fun here taking pics, the place was beautiful and full of different perspectives, looking at that unique architecture, there was really the feeling to be back in time.
From there we went up until we back to the “Belvedere”, then we went to the opposite side of the city. We saw the “Chiesa di San Francesco D’Assisi”, which is nice but surrounded by regular buildings so it wasn’t singular. After that we reached the “Basilica”, unfortunately the cathedral was under renovation and a big scaffold was covering the whole facade. We didn’t spend so much time here but even from the “Basilica” square there was another beautiful landscape over the rest of the city, another cool perspective.
When we left the “Basilica” we took other new tiny alleys to reach the "Convento di Sant’Agostino”, this a worship place, a big complex formed by a Church and a Convent. An entire side of the Convent, which is big, is just overhanging the canyon and makes it looking even more massive. Despite the place was impressive, it wasn’t the best thing there, at least in my opinion. The most beautiful thing there, was another cool different view over Matera. As I said the Convent was beside the canyon and another small part of it, a gorge separated part of the city center from the one where the Convent was. The funny thing was that we saw three different view of Matera, if it wasn’t for the Cathedral Bell Tower as point of recognition, we could think we had seen three different cities. That was was the last thing we saw, it was enough because our time was up. We needed to reach a town in mid Italy which was a couple of hours away so we decided to back to the car.
In the car, while I was driving to our destination, my sister pointed out to me that Matera was a wealthy city. She noticed this simply by looking at the style of the people and the typology of the shops. This made me happy because normally southern Italy is completely different in negative terms compared to the northern, for culture, economy, this is due to the bad Italian politics made since the post WWII period until today.
I honestly don't remember our trip to the destination, probably because I was satisfied with my visit and while driving I was still enjoying those places that I had seen in the afternoon.
Pictures: Antonio Malara
Camera: Nikon D3s