The Piano and the “Sasso Barisano” District

Departing from the Late Baroque-Church of San Francesco da Paola on Via XX settembre, you reach Piazza Vittorio Veneto, where you can visit the Convent of Santa Lucia alla Fontana, and the Annunziata and San Domenico Convents, as well as the Church of the Knights of Malta. Here, in the underground chambers which lie beneath the square you can visit the cistern known as the Palombaro Lungo, the rock-hewn church of Santo Spirito, the area known as “Fondaco di Mezzo” (in other words the ancient city market square) and an Aragonese tower which had previously protected the city walls. From here you can walk down into the Sasso Barisano district to visit a few medieval rock-hewn churches, the Parish Church of San Pietro Barisano, the Monastery of Sant’Agostino, and what is known locally by the name of Casa Cava, a unique theatre dug out of a large quarry. You can then return to the Piano and visit the Church of San Biagio and the Romanesque Church of San Giovanni Battista located in the square of the same name.

What you will see

San Francesco da Paola

Tipologia:
Church




The works for the construction of the church, financed by the confraternity of Saint Francis of Paola, started in 1772 and lasted for more than twenty years. The church was consecrated in 1795 in late Baroque style, which recalls the features of the church of Purgatory and of Santa Lucia alla Fontana. Its interior has a single nave with narrow side chapels. In the first chapel on the right there is the wooden statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, while in the second chapel there is a painting of the Immaculate Conception signed and dated by local painter Nunzio Nicola Bonamassa in 1776. In the first chapel on the left there is a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, while in the second chapel there is the canvas of St. Teresa of Ávila from 1813, painted and signed by Saverio Calò, as well as the urn of the holy martyr St. Restitutus. There is also an Annunciation and a Nativity scene by an unknown artist, painted on the right wall of the transept. The vault of the apse, decorated in 1894, is by Francesco Saverio D’Antona. In the chapel next to the church there is a terracotta statue of Saint Francis of Paola made by local artist Pasquale Calabrese in 1886.






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Casa Cava

Tipologia:
Conference hall, Event space, Exhibition space, and Site of interest




The Casa Cava is a disused quarry in the heart of the Sasso Barisano district. It was discovered underneath a house and behind a one-room apartment used as a kitchen, living room and bedroom, and the stable for the animals. Restored in 2011 by the technicians of the Ufficio Sassi of the Municipality of Matera, with the collaboration of the Matera architect Renato Lamacchia, an acoustic expert. Casa Cava received special mention in the context of the prestigious international stone architecture award in Verona during the “Marmomacc 2013”, the most important European fair for marble and stone masonry. This ex-quarry has become an important space for cultural events. It is capable of comfortably accommodating one hundred and forty people and is fully equipped to host a variety of events.

 


https://www.casacava.it/





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This site is property of the city and is managed by the Consorzio Casa Cava.




Titolarità:

Palombaro lungo

Tipologia:
Site of interest




The Palombaro lungo is the largest public cistern in the city which was brought to light during the construction of Piazza Vittorio Veneto in 1991. Being roughly fourteen metres deep and fifty meters long, this cistern had a capacity of over five million litres of water. It collected both spring and rain water and was used as a water reserve for citizens during summer. It originally had a bell-shaped spring water well dug into the rock, but in 1893, as the population’s demand for water increased, it was decided to dig further, while enlarging it and annexing four pre-existing caves and another cistern to it. The works were supervised by an architect from Naples and was in use until the 1930s when the Apulian Aqueduct brought water to the city. The Palombaro lungo was then closed and abandoned.






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This site is managed by the Association – GTA Basilicata




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San Pietro Barisano

Tipologia:
Archaeological site and Rock church




Archaeological excavations carried out inside of this church have revealed medieval structures below the floor, at a depth of one metre. In the Middle Ages the church was called San Pietro de Veteribus. It became an abbey in 1467 and was managed by Abbot Matteo Ciminelli, who obtained the right of patronage for his family from Pope Paul II. When the Ciminelli family line died out, the abbey was taken over two centuries later by the Venusio and Gattini families. In 1903 the church was abandoned due to excessive dampness, and its furnishings were moved to the Church of Sant’Agostino. Its 1755 façade has a four-lobed rose window. Its interior preserves an altar dedicated to Our Lady of Consolation, crowned by angels in high relief, attributed to Stefano da Putignano, and a chapel with 16th-century frescoes. The 18th-century catacombs used for the burial of monks and priests are accessible from the sacristy.






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This rock church is also known as the church of San Pietro de Veteribus and is managed by the Oltre l’Arte Association.




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San Giovanni Battista

Tipologia:
Church




The church of San Giovanni Battista is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the area. Quadri-lobed columns, ogival arches, ribbed cross vaults, faux women’s galleries, splendid Byzantine capitals, adorned with zoomorphic figures and floral motifs, make the church one of the most important monuments in the city and beyond. The church belonged to the convent of the Penitents of Saint Mary and all the Saints of Accon. Bishop Andrea established the convent and obliged the nuns to pay a bezant each year as a tribute for the feast of Saint Canius, the patron saint of Acerenza. At that time, the church was called Santa Maria Nova and only in 1695 did it become the parish of Saint John the Baptist, housing the baptistery for the Sasso Barisano district. It is accessible from a side door, decorated with floral motifs and curly haired heads on the architrave, that recall the stone lions next to one of the doors of the Cathedral.


Via San Biagio (Piazza San giovanni) 75100 Matera





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Santo Spirito della Grancia dei Cavalieri di Malta

Tipologia:
Rock church




The 13th-century rock church of Santo Spirito belonged to the grange of the Order of the Knights of Malta, run by the church chaplain. The three steps of the main door and the remains of its 17th-century façade are located outside the rupestrian part of the church. Its interior has three aisles with apses embellished by quadrangular pillars that support round arches and a ribbed cross vault. On the right wall, near the apse, an arcosolium decorated in relief with floral motifs, marked the grave of an important person. A 13th-century fresco of a martyr holding a cross in her hand is observable, as well as the palimpsest (layered) fresco of St. Vitus, with his name inscribed in the clypeus, which is one of Matera’s earliest Byzantine paintings. In addition, there is a Christ in Majesty in the apse of the main nave from the same period, as well as some scenes from the life of an unknown saint, together with fragments of various frescos on the other walls.


Piazza Vittorio Veneto 75100 Matera





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This church is unattended.




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