Matera, the European Capital of Culture 2019, has been representing Basilicata in the world for a few years now. Basilicata remained unknown to many for a long time, in fact a local director, Rocco Papaleo, in his film Basilicata coast to coast says: “Basilicata does exist! It is almost like the concept of God, you believe it or not”.
Anyway, thanks to the increasing importance of Matera, Basilicata has been saved from oblivion. Even if the increase of tourism in Basilicata concerns especially the city of Matera, it is positive for the entire Region.
Before being designated as European Capital of Culture 2019, Matera had already increased its importance thanks to Mel Gibson, who chose to set The Passion there, in the Città dei Sassi, in 2004.
It is enough to look at the Sassi sparkling when the sun hits them to understand Mel Gibson’s choice. They look like a small Jerusalem, when in the sunlight the stones turn golden. So, what about spending Christmastime in Mel Gibson’s Palestine?
It will be easy to feel that magical Christmas atmosphere while you stand in front of the stunning image of the lit Sassi at night. It seems like a crib, quiet and silent, waiting for the coming of the Lord.
In that wonderful frame, every year a Living Crib is set up with hundreds of actors. This year they will reproduce six scenes: the Annunciation, the Sanhedrin, the Market, the Historic Crafts, the Court of King Herod and the Nativity. The upcoming dates to visit the Living Crib are 29 and 30 December and 6 and 7 January, the walk is 1 km long, from the old town to the Sasso Barisano, and lasts 1 hour. A unique and evocative experience, it may seem to go back in time.
Besides evoking the solemnity of Christmas, Matera will host many other initiatives. For Christmastime, Matera fills up with lights and magic. Do not miss the events organised for the project Il Quartiere Ri-Luce, whose aim is to redevelop San Pardo neighbourhood, especially the switching-on of the Christmas lights and the pettolata (pettola is a kind of finger food very common in Southern Italy…delicious!) on 22 December.
For all people who like tasting local food, they will enjoy the Christmas markets that will take place in the weekends. The markets will be set up in Piazzetta Pascoli, from where the stunning view of the Sassi can be appreciated.
And what about Christmas Carols? You will find them, too. If you like traditions, do not miss the Christmas concert “Puer natus est” by the Polifonica Materana Chorus at the San Francesco’s Church on 21 December. If you prefer originality, you will like MiFaJazz’s exhibitions at Osteria Malatesta on 21 December and at Gervasio’s Auditorium on 22 December.
For the children it will be created the Ice Christmas Village with an ice rink where both children and adults can enjoy themselves. So, there is something for all tastes! Are you ready to enjoy the magic?
Copyright photos: www.italoamericano.org; www.evolutiontravel.eu; www.dltviaggi.it
Article written by: M. T. Belsanti