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©  Federico Scarchilli

From capital of shame to Capital of European Culture

When Togliatti, leader of the communist party arrived in Matera in 1948, he called it “national shame”. Matera, after the II world war became one of the places most affected by the post-war crisis: inside the traditional cave called “Sassi” the men were living together with animals, for this reason, diseases spread and the population started to be hit by malaria.

In 1950 prime minister Alcide De Gaspari issued the special law for the displacement of Sassi; by requiring the population to move into the new districts, thus favouring the emptying of the historic districts; “Caveoso and Sasso Barisano”. It is in these years that film production is interested in Matera as the perfect movie set. Directors such as Pasolini, Nanni Lory, Tornatore, Placido, Mel Gibson and the colossal “Ben Hur” filmed in Matera.

In 1993 Unesco declared Matera as World Heritage Site, the city became the first site in South Italy to receive this nomination, Sassi became repopulated: those environments that previously aroused discomfort to the Italians are now a symptom of renewed pride. In 2014 finally, Matera becomes “City of European Capital of Culture 2019”.

Matera must be an example because this city is the exact symbol of life: the initial difficulties, the nickname “City of Shame”, the desire to get up; the awareness of having strength, of rebelling and innovating by changing name in “European City of Culture 2019”

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