Da L’Espresso
Settimanale di politica n. 50 del 19 dicembre 1993
(pag. 112, 113,115)


UNESCO has defined them as a “heritage of humanity”. And he launched the proposal of an Italian architect. To transform
The ancient complex in a large museum of man and rock cultures. Starting from prehistoric caves …

By Alberto Dentice

From his study on the Barisano, one of the two canes that open to amphitheater on the canyon of Gravina, Pietro Laureano looks out to contemplate the majestic spectacle of that incredible city carved in the tuff: “The show of shame,” the writer Carlo Levi. It was post-war. It has been little more than forty years and here is UNESCO, the United Nations for
Education and culture, is preparing to proclaim the Sassi of Matera “Heritage of Humanity”.

“Of course, it’s not a recent jump,” says Laureano, author of the report
Which allowed the Lucan city to be included among the 379 wonders
“To be handed down at all costs to future generations,” together, so much for
Say, at the Acropolis of Athens and the Valley of the Kings. The announcement was given during the UNESCO World Heritage Day plenary session, which was held in Cartagena, Colombia, in recent days. But conquering the “nomination” was not easy. It was first necessary to convince Paris (UNESCO headquarters) that Matera’s candidacy was meritorious. And here is Laurean. Years of research, study, travel: the Sahara, Petra, Yemen, have made this lucano grown in Matera one of the most
UNESCO’s prestigious urban planners for desertified areas and Islamic civilization.
But what are the Sassi with the desert? Graduates explain it with the help of the book, “Stone Gardens”, (200 pages and 148 between photos and drawings) edited by Bollati Boringhieri, who publishes the report on Matera presented to UNESCO.

The “Palombaro lungo”, the spectacular cistern discovered under the main square of Matera.

“The origin and the primordial charm of this city dug into the tufa and built on the degrading terraces of two great riverbed,” he says, “come from water condensation and water collecting systems similar to those made by the Saharians since the Neolithic; In Matera we find the same hydraulic works dating to the Bronze Age, underground canals, wells, and large tanks existing in Petra, Matmatà in Tunisia and Cappadocia.

Laurean has no doubt: at the origin of Matera there is a seminomade civilization, already able, since the Neolithic, to build complex hydraulic works for the collection of the water necessary for survival: “What makes the Sassi unique is a use Of houses that have been perpetuated, and has remained intact, from the Neolithic to the eighteenth century. “

The trouble for the Sassi begins with the industrial revolution. In the 18th century, the city was built on the plan, along the edge of Gravina. The granaries, the tanks, the sophisticated water channeling system, are buried, obscured by streets and palaces. In 1936, with the projects he wanted from
Fascist regime, the two streams (grabiglioni) of the Sassi are submerged, become two rolling roads connected together to form a ring road connecting the Sasso barisano with the caveous Sasso. So the Sassi are definitely separate. For the millennial ecological balance of the Sassi is a deadly blow. The City Sails become an unhealthy neighborhood. With the
Time also loses the memory of their form and becomes unreadable the wonderful resource management system on which the urban plot was founded. Finally, in the 1950s, with the expulsion of
Forces of the inhabitants, the Sassi become the largest abandoned historical center known to them.


Faced with such a plague civil society reacts. Multiple appeals for Sassi rescue. Pier Paolo Pasolini turns to Matera “The Gospel according to Matthew”. Indeed, in ’77 the Sassi are the subject of an international contest of recovery ideas. In 1986 they even benefited from a special allocation of 100 billion for restoration and valorisation of ancient quarters, but until now this money, spent only in the least, was served above all
To arrange river conventions. Nobody, until now, had taken into consideration the close interdependence between the upper and lower part of this city. The set of architectures that overlook the terraces and alleys, the crossing of the arches and the stairs between the rosy-colored rooftops, and the hidden dark side of the city, consisting of the cisterns, tunnels and wells excavated in the ground. Cesare Brandi himself, in “Pellegrino di Puglia”, while on the one hand denounced the need for an “urgent restoration of the Sassi” so that people could return to live, on the other, he suggested “to wall the part of houses that are in the cave … so make it an apartment
Without distorting its external appearance. ” Now Laureano discovered a treasure where others, before him, had seen only misery and degradation.

Pietro Laureano

“In a poor way,” explains, “in Matera we find the history of the evolution of architectural and urban types from the Neolithic to the modern era.” Hence the proposal by Laureano, made by Unesco, of a restructuring of the Sassi, which, on the part of the Sasso caveoso, creates a “Museum of Man and Rock Cultures”. In short, a kind of “Neolitic Park” that also takes into account the underground cavities, not just the surface and allows the same mattresses to re-occupy what was a completely original housing conception and
Great value. The recent excavations of Piazza Vittorio Veneto have highlighted some splendid complexes that show the quality and functionality of this type of rock: wide and deep open shaft shafts, from which they spread like rays from a wheel hub, caves Which give rise to a complex plot of galleries, cellars, snowploughs, bell cisterns. Under the ground there is even a medieval tower and a huge, silent tank as a “cathedral of water”. For architect Mattia Acito, who is responsible for the project, this is the “true authentic historical city museum”, a real terminal from which, at the upcoming festivities, you can go for excursions targeted in the bowels of the Sassi. Meanwhile, the fever of celebrations seems to have shaken definite-
The mattresses. Along the whole Sasso barisano fervo the works, restore the ancient houses excavated in the tufa, clean up grottoes and cisterns from rubble. Until a few months ago nobody wanted to return to the Sassi, now an apartment costs as much as in Manhattan. And new activities for the valorisation of rock are blooming. The same Laureano in collaboration with a cooperative, Ipogea, and with the patronage of the commune, has created a center of rock and water civilizations. It will be a sort of archive-multimedia lab on civilizations, restoration techniques, environmental enhancement projects of international rocky sites. In short, Matera intends to resuscitate on his Sassi by merging the myth of caves and that of the computer. It will take months, maybe years. But Laureate the greatest satisfaction has it already
Obtained: to see Matera beat the Unesco flag.


“on line Troglodytes

Underground and computer museums: here is the Loire model

“Troglo c’est chic”, the troglodytes of fashion. This is the new password that goes from this year to the tourist agencies of Loire, one of the most renowned holidaymakers in France. And it is understood: last year, in the area of ​​Saumurois (300 km of underground galleries and of
Caves inhabited since the Middle Ages) for the first time the rock tourism has exceeded the number of visitors of the Castelli. The rock of these parts does not possess the cultural richness of the Sassi of Matera. But in the face of the abandonment of the French heritage
Show that around the rock can develop a flourishing eco-tourism that blends technology and imaginary pre-historic, enterteinment and culture imagery. Take a high-speed train and from Paris, in just over an hour, you are among the new troglodies. People courteous, industrious, from the managerial point of view. No wet and dark caves. We start off with a chain of troglodian restaurants, of about 200 hotels, motels and residences built in cozy and cave-like caves. To the visitors of Dénezé-sous Doué, a spectacular tufa quarry today,
Terranea dating to the Middle Ages, is also a touch of Spielberg, with multicasting on the most spectacular rock caves in the world, live music and concerts. At the conference on the rock that took place last month at Saumour, there were talk of underground eco-museums, underground tourism exploitation and even a computer network. Eureka, who co-operates in real time all the European rock sites: Matera and Cappadocia, Petra and Paterna (Spain), Dénezés-sous Doué and Vateamontea. There was some euphoria among the participants: “We are
Convinced that the Troglodyte Europe of that Politics will be built first “.