I had the most amazing time in Matera; it was so lively and colorful at night. We walked around the city and saw two outdoor theater shows and a live concert in one night. I had never in my life seen so many people out past 10pm during a weekday than in Matera. The streets were lit like a Christmas tree as the city was preparing for a summer festival. I could not believe my eyes. Despite the beauty, there was tragedy in this city as well. In order to become the city it was today Matera gave up something, its impoverished past. The Sassi, the actual stone part of the city, had been the area of the poor after they were pushed inward from the outskirts of the city. The Italian Government declared a state of emergency for Matera as the conditions became unlivable. The government stepped in to fix the city’s economics and living conditions but the results were the displacement of the poor in the Sassi of Matera. The only remnants of these people is a museum that gives a peek into what living conditions used to be and a painting dedicated to the previous tenants by medical doctor, author, and artist, Carlo Levi. A whole group of people disappeared with barely even a thought. Matera, a beautiful city with a tragic past.
Text & Photo by Kayla Johnson