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The city of Matera

Matera has about 60,000 inhabitants, is located at 401 m above sea level and is only 45 kilometers from the beaches. Appreciated and visited for its stones, it also offers many other pearls of beauty and culture that our guides will be able to illustrate you with skill. We recommend a visit to the 13th century Cathedral, in Apulian Romanesque style, which stands imposingly on the Civita hill, the first human settlement in the city, dating back to the medieval period characterized by walls and fortifications. The Cathedral, internally renovated in the Baroque period, houses interesting wooden and pictorial works by local artists, among which the sixteenth-century nativity scene in Altobello Persio stone and the wooden choir of the ‘400 by Giovanni Tantino di Ariano Irpino stand out. The other Romanesque churches in the historic center, San Giovanni Battista and San Domenico are also very interesting.

Along the seventeenth-century backbone of the “Piano” you can admire the civil and religious buildings of the Baroque period including the churches of San Francesco d’Assisi, Purgatorio and Santa Chiara, until you reach Palazzo Lanfranchi, adjacent to the church of the Madonna del Carmine currently home to important art exhibitions. Built as a seminar at the end of the 1600s, it was formerly the Liceo gymnasium, where Giovanni Pascoli taught for a few years, Palazzo Lanfranchi was recently renovated and houses the Museum of medieval and modern art in Basilicata. Present, in its splendid setting, a large collection of paintings by Carlo Levi, numerous works of the Neapolitan school of the ‘600 and’ 700 and various wooden and pictorial works from different centers of the province, restored by the Superintendency, as well as periodic exhibitions of great value.

Important to reconstruct the origins of the city is a visit to the National Museum “Domenico Ridola” established in 1911 and dedicated to one of the most distinguished men of the city. The doctor and senator Ridola, fond of antiques, started various excavation campaigns at the end of the 19th century which led him to discover some of the most important Paleolithic and Neolithic settlements in the area and to constitute an interesting collection of archaeological finds, enriched and updated from the work of the museum technicians. Of great interest are also the collections that concern the settlements of Magna Graecia, which saw its blossoming on the Ionian coasts.

Among the buildings that stand out in the streets of the center, in addition to the many noble palaces such as the Firrao-Giudicepietro palace from the end of the 15th century or the Palazzo del Sedile from 1799, today the seat of the Music Conservatory, both splendid venues for conferences and congresses, c ‘is the Tramontano Castle, built in the sec. XVI, outside the city, at the behest of Count Giancarlo Tramontano. It has a central male and lateral towers but due to the premature death of the count – murdered – it has remained incomplete.

For those wishing to deepen the articulated story of the historical development of the city of Matera, it is possible to consult a rich bibliography of reference at the State Archive and the Provincial Library in Matera. Further insights through the notes of the numerous visitors of the past or the stories of some illustrious Matera, Also fascinating is the complex history of the Brigante Chitarridd.

*Photo by Marco De Lucia