The town of Matera is situated on the border between the regions of Puglia and Basilicata and is characterized by a deep canyon on the edges of which the oldest part of the town “the Sassi” has been built up over thousands of years. Who has never heard of the Sassi, described by Levi and Pasolini as the poverty of a timeless peasant world made into a town? Timeless! This is paradoxical for a town that had experienced complex tribulations and had witnessed the systematic attempt to eliminate all sings and structures of the original “rock-town” in favour of a more European “town culture”; its styles range from the Romanic, to the Renaissance, to the Baroque, up until the urban macrostructure, overcrowded with people and symbol of peasant poverty following the Second World War. The most recent development represents the modern-day challenge of sustainable recovery and the regaining the town’s lost identity. Today the ancient town of Matera and the high Murgia plain opposite represent an original piece in European city history, and it is fascinating to discover in the refined dialogue between rocks and architecture, canyons and bell-towers which symbolize the unparalleled beauty of this urban setting.
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