Matera: European capital of culture for 2019

Millions of reasons for this award.

A piece of very good news has recently concerned Italy. Matera, a city in Basilicata region, has been awarded “European capital of culture” for 2019 by a selection panel of experts. Lots of reasons for this award can be mentioned that we’ll condense all along this article. 

Matera

Matera

Stones of Matera

Matera’s peculiarity is in the site itself. The first urban unit, called “Sassi”, was created and still lies on the slope of a canyon eroded by what was once a river, the “Gravina”, that is now a torrent. These “Sassi” were basically dwellings carved into the calcareous rock of the slope, which protected their inhabitants from enemies’ attacks just because they were invisible. This is the reason why Matera is also called the “subterranean city”, and when night comes and lights are on, a big Nativity scene-like comes alive and amazed expressions are unavoidable! 

Over the centuries, various rulers left a good quantity of monuments as well as Matera’s Christian faith. Tramontano Castle, many palaces, and countless churches among which the famous small Rupestrian churches dug into the rock. For these reasons, for one of the most ancient and efficacious systems of water collection, for its ancient and stony landscapes, such to be Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” set, Matera belongs to UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993.

Matera - Sassi

Matera, chiese rupestri nella Gravina

Let's eat in Matera!

Another great part of its cultural aspects is gastronomy. If you want to dive into a typical ancient cuisine, here you are! A poor food cuisine holding all the genuine flavours of Matera’s earth.

Vegetables like wild chicory, sivoni, cimalaponi, broccoli rabe, asparagus, eggplants, potatoes, artichokes and sweet peppers are the ingredients of many typical dishes as well as the different kinds of legumes such as beans, fava beans, lentils, chickpeas.

The “Ciallèdd”, for example, combines stale bread, onions, potatoes, some herbs of the nearby Murgia park, eggs sometimes and rapini.

The “Crapiata” is a real celebration of the fruit of Matera’s earth. A soup of wheat, spelt, fava beans, onions, peas, chickpeas, potatoes, lentils, celery, cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. 

Going on, we have homemade pasta, often made with the traditional burned wheat; focaccia (flat baked pizza-like dough) with cherry tomatoes or olives or sweet peppers on it; fried peperoni cruschi, that’s sun-dried sweet peppers then fried. They also represent a good ingredient to add to baked potatoes, simply being crumbled over them or over pasta along with fried breadcrumbs. 

All these specialties find in the Primitivo and Aglianico red wines their perfect companions. Yet, white wines like Greco di Matera, Moscato and Malvasia are equally remarkable.

What are you waiting for? Organize your next trip to Matera!  

Sources

it.wikipedia.org - Matera
isassidimatera.com - Piatti Tipici
sassiweb.it - Visite guidate ai Sassi di Matera
sassiweb.it - Le focacce di Matera
sassiweb.it - Le verdure
sassiweb.it - Gli ortaggi
All images released under Creative Commons license.

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