lunedì 21 novembre 2016

Christmas in Matera: emotion with its living nativity

I visited Matera the first time three years ago, as I spent the holidays on the Ionian coast of Basilicata.
I didn't realize, then, that the city was so close to Puglia; I have don it last year instead, when I reached Matera from Bari.
Bari is in fact the city with the nerest airport and most comfortable rail link to Matera, which is from there a bit more than an hour drive.
I also discovered, meanwhile, that the Basilicata region bagan independent in 1970 while until then Matera itself was part of the Puglia region.



The thrill of getting to Matera was tha same as meeting again a dear friend. I was in love at first sight in 2013 and the opportunity to return thanks to the project #365PugliaDays organized by Italica Tourism gave me excitement and emotion that few people can understand.
This time I had the privilege to look out from the opposite side of the "Sassi", the typical houses in Matera, from the Murgia, where you can go hiking, horseback riding and discovering the first Paleolithic churches. 
From here the view is breathtaking; on the right tands Sasso Barisano [which takes its name from the fact that it is the first coming from Bari], easy to be spotted,  the city center with the Civita where the Cathedral stands out, and the Sasso Caveoso, the left part of the city.


Stearing at it from this perspective, we can better understand the sentence of the writer Carlo Levi when, in Christ Stopped at Eboli, narrated "... Looking up I finally saw as an oblique wall, all Matera. It's really a beautiful, picturesque and impressive city... "

But Matera is not only to be admired from far, it worths living and visiting it, as a city that needs to be explored on foot through the streets of stones, including stairways and doors. Those doors sometimes still tell that this city, that slightly more than half century ago was mentioned as "Italy's shame", but that knew how to react to this gratuitous insult and soon will be the European Capital of Culture in 2019.


You cannot miss a visit to a Casa Grotta, to understand how the inhabitants lived here with all their belongings, without wasting nothing and protecting the animals owned as family members.
And it is entering a home or a shop which includes the conformation of these homes, which from the outside seem like normal buildings, that you can understand the work of man to dig the home and protect it.


The most impressive visit, however, was the one to Palombaro, the large cistern under Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which was discovered a few decades ago when it became necessary to repave the square. Here rainwater were used by the population, which collected it from the outside with buckets through special wells.


But the best time to visit Matera is  December, during Christmas time. This year on the 3rd of December the seventh edition of the Living Nativity among the stones will start. This year the main theme is "Laudato Sii" (you are praised).
In the long weekend starting from December the 8th the event will be enriched by a spectacular animated path from Gruppo Storico Romano in the Sasso Barisano, and throughout the Christmas period, ending January the 8th 2017, the nativity will walk among the houses and  through the streets in Sasso Caveoso.



31 commenti:

  1. Such a nice article Paola. I have been wanting to visit Matera for such a long time. It's been on my wish list for ages. Every time I find an article about it, it definitely catches my attention... The pictures are amazing, and the little town seems full of magic. I'd really love to see Matera next year, I can't postpone such a wonderful destination much longer.

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. It's such a charming city! I felt in love the exact moment I saw it for the first time. I am sure you will like it too

      Elimina
  2. I think you gain such a unique perspective when you visit a city for a second time. Love your reflection!

    RispondiElimina
  3. Your pictures are so expressive! I didn't know about this city, but I've wanted to get to Bari for a while now. Now they're noth on my list. Also, did you go to Matera by train? And how far is it from Bari?

    Elena | www.inspiredtoexplore.com

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. There is no train between the two cities, but a bus service instead. It's about 1,5 hr drive

      Elimina
  4. What a quaint stone city...it certainly has a lot of character. So many places in Italy! I've already been twice and covered over 20 places...but the list seems to be unending.

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. There's someting to see everywhere, I agree. Being one of the most ancient country in the world leads to this ;)

      Elimina
  5. Amazing the lifestyle preserved and displayed so well. I like places filled with so much history. Great captures particularly the first one with white facades and little windows.

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. Those are the classic Matera's houses, built in stone.

      Elimina
  6. I am going to assume that this town is in Italy... and I have never heard about it before! It's curious that they have a theme for christmas, dont' you think! Anyway, thanks for discover this little beauty to us

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. It is in Italy and (pity) it's not that known abroad.mIt will be thoug since it will be the European Culture Capital in 2019

      Elimina
  7. That first picture of Matera panorama is mind boggling. Completely in awe of its rustic charm. Casa Grotta looks fascinating. Am intrigued by the way how the things were arranged and how the inhabitants lived there.

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. It's really fascinating. Thinking about a family of 4 or 5 peple living in one room, together with the animals, it's amazing

      Elimina
  8. Never heard of this place before, but the rustic charm certainly shows through in the photos. I like how the city is somewhat uni-color, and the structures then all run together.

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. It's a place to visit in Italy, definitely!

      Elimina
  9. So beautiful! Puglia has long been in my list of Italian cities to visit. I love how offbeat the region is. Looks like I will have to add Matera. :)

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. Do so, and you won't be disappointed.

      Elimina
  10. A nice and solemn place to celebrate Christmas. Ohh how exciting to see those shooting stars up above during night time 😊

    RispondiElimina
  11. Ah, wow. What a cute and meaningful town :) I love small towns with little details like collecting rainwater and using it for practical purposes :)

    RispondiElimina
  12. Matera looks absolutely gorgeous! I'd love to go there and the nativity scene sounds quite intriguing. I usually tend to avoid traveling around holidays, but I'd definitely make an exception for this destination!

    RispondiElimina
  13. Wow, Matera seems to be such a special place, and filled with history, too. I would love to go and explore one day!

    RispondiElimina
  14. What a lovely read Paola, I sincerely enjoyed learning about the history of this town. The Casa Grotta looks like an awesome place to perform a case study on the way in which people lived and utilised the best and most they could with earnest!

    RispondiElimina
  15. It looks like a very beautiful city, it deserves to be known (i had never heard about Matera before). I would love to discover it!

    Miriam Ernst - http://www.be-sparkling.com

    RispondiElimina
  16. Lovely Article Paola. You have just defined 'Romancing with a place'! There are some places that you just fall in love with due to so many reasons and Matera just seems like that kind of a place :)

    RispondiElimina
  17. I love the mix of new and old in that building! The new looking bridge/footpath and the older looking walls and arches. Very pretty! What a fun place to celebrate Christmas! It is quite charming :)

    RispondiElimina
  18. I didn't know that Matera is a tourist destination before reading your post. The architecture of Casa Grotta is just breathtaking! Adding it on my wishlist!

    RispondiElimina
  19. Never heard of Matera. Love discovering new spots through blogs <3 The pictures really shows us a place that we would want to add to our list when the travel to the country! Thanks for the inspo!

    RispondiElimina
  20. Oh this place is so lovely. The houses are simple yet so amazing. I love the first photo of the city. The architecture looks quite stunning. This is a new place for me.

    RispondiElimina
  21. Is the living nativity done every year or was Christmas 2016 a one off?

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. Hi, it's done every year! Follow the link you find in the post to get fresh info.

      Elimina

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