Matera the European Capital of Culture 2019
Matera is a concrete example in Italy and Europe of how it is possible to take on the greatest challenges. Its archaeological, historical, anthropological, monumental, landscape and natural heritage has been the subject of study and research since the mid 1800s. The city has succeeded in transforming all the negatives of the past into positives rendering them opportunities for tourism and economic development. In the 1950s, the Sassi were declared a “national shame” due to the poor hygienic and sanitary conditions in which the inhabitants lived. The Sassi were singled out as one of the many examples of “troglodytism”. Today, however, scholars from all over the world consider the Sassi districts as the most outstanding and enviromentally-friendly example of rupestrian civilisation and culture. Just like the Gravina ravine in Matera it is a unique example in the world from a cultural point of view which testify to the continuity of cave-dwelling life from prehistoric times to the present day. Matera was one of the very first Italian cities and the first in southern Italy to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The city of Matera was awarded the First European Prize for Urban and Regional Planning when it was unknown both in Italy and abroad. Over the past few years, it has become a true city of art among the most important international tourist destinations in southern Italy. It won the candidacy as the European Capital of Culture in 2019, thanks to the professionalism of Paolo Verri and Joseph Grima, respectively the general manager and artistic director of Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation. Paolo Verri is from Turin and is specialised in the management of cultural events. He is one of Beniamino Placido’s student . Joseph Grima set up the Open Design School along with the other members of the Matera 2019 Foundation. The Open Design School is a laboratory capable of exporting a new model of cultural citizenship to Europe and to the world. It is a flat organisational structure which is made directly by the students. Joseph Grima also set up the Demo-ethno-anthropology Institute, which is a museum that is expected to be named after the Neapolitan anthropologist Ernesto De Martino. A city that is undergoing various changes thanks to the ideas of its citizens who supported the candidacy project of Matera as the European Capital of Culture in 2019 promoted by the Municipality of Matera.
In order to achieve the challenges of the future, the city wants to complete the restoration of the Sassi and increase the number of residents in its ancient districts; to be the ideal place to produce culture, innovation and good practices with the use of technology; to consolidate the role of Southern Italy in the Italian socio-economic and cultural scenario as an innovative area of the country; to attract new public and private investments; to consolidate itself as a city of art and an international tourist destination; and be the pride of the Italian and European tourism supply.