Dwellings Of The Myth | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

My trip in the South of Italy finished before I could visit the opening of “Dwellings Of The Myth” an historical personal contemporary art exhibition by the sculptor Girolamo Ciulla, a Sicilian artist transplanted in Tuscany. His art composed of travertine, bronze, iron, ceramic, wood and marble sculptures has been placed in the Sassi, caves of Matera, between rocks and ancient churches, in a mystical land, where earth’s vibrations are high and can be felt on the skin. This exhibition is a modern reinterpretation of classic divinities in the Mediterranean culture. He sees Demetra, a goddess of harvest with flowing hair and the Aurigae, the charioteer constellation as modern, poetic interpretation of today’s life.

I remember when going to Matera was almost an impossible task on impervious winding roads, especially in the winter with snow on the ground.  People who didn’t own a car, couldn’t even find a convenient train to reach the town. Usually, in the largest cities nearby, private car owners organized themselves as taxi services, collected people at a conventional corner, that they established as their stop and took people to Matera back and forth.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

Today, Matera is a modern town, bustling with new ideas, energized by Hollywood producers who chose this site to film many famous productions, the European commission has declared the town the European cultural centre for 2019, and despite the rolling events and happenings, Matera so far has managed to preserve the ancient look of that town I used to know.


(Photo Above: Source Google Search)

(Photo: Girolamo Ciulla – http://www.sassilive.it)

Sculptor Girolamo Ciulla has dedicated a stone to Matera as a symbol of distance between his native town of Caltanissetta, Sicily and Matera. In his imagination distances do not keep people apart but make them closer. Girolamo Ciulla’s exhibition will be open until October 14, 2018 and I missed it. I am wondering, other than local Italians, how many travelers will visit the Sassi just to enjoy this exhibition.

Photos Source: https://www.arte.go.it)

In my mind, there are two kinds of people trotting the world: the tourist and the traveler.
The tourist roams aimlessly the streets of foreign countries, takes meaningless pictures and eats tourist food. The traveler wants to learn, enquires, listens to local sounds, appreciates local folklore, ventures in unusual places, tries out new things, writes notes, talks to people and eats local food.

Next year will be fun to be in Matera again, a lot will happen due to nomination of the town as cultural centre for 2019, and I want to be part of that fun. Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Through The Grid | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Lunch is just over, fish was so fresh it was still moving in the basket when we ordered it for our afternoon repast. The Verdeca white wine typical of Puglia, served very chilled and smooth was delicious, we could have drunk many bottles if we didn’t have to be on the road continuing our trip. We should be heading towards Matera, but we are still lingering in the corner café between a coffee mousse and after dinner drinks. Life in these parts moves on slow motion, some of the people in my group are having a hard time adjusting to a quieter time of this region.

Traveling through the calm countryside of Puglia, a two-way provincial road, we occasional pass a three-wheeled Vespa truck or an agriculture horse and carriage, while almond and olive trees fill our view all the way there. The sun is lulling. Singing along with “Mimmo Lovely” and his music we finally reach Matera, about 50 km. away from Puglia. We park the car and adventure in a short walk to the nearby center town, through fancy boutiques and utilitarian shops. (Click on each photo to view it larger)

Prefettura-A
The historic Piazza Vittorio Veneto was built between the 1600 and 1700 in a mixture of Romanesque and Baroque architectural styles that was literally propped on a flat surface over the “Sassi”, the ancient stone residences of Matera. The new bourgeoisie buildings, churches, and monasteries built on a flat surface above buried the caves houses, shops, wine cellars, and cisterns underground. Looking down through the grid in Piazza Vittorio Veneto near the fountain it is not so clear that underneath a modern center town pavement there is a huge ancient city of more than 5400 sq. feet, which extends all the way to the convent of the Annunziata and its foundations include a tower once part of the Castello Tramontano. The ancient underground town hides residences in the caves, shops, warehouses, snow storage and a huge water cistern 49 feet tall with a capacity of containing over 132,000 gallons of water.

Campanile-P.zzaV.Veneto-a
Restoration began in early 1990 bringing to light the ancient underground town, part of which we can visit now. Above the underground town a road has been opened to allow visitors to be taken by the view of original homes of the 1700s built in a highly refined style with the purpose of hiding and contrast the cave residences once only considered a disgrace to the town of Matera and now winding below our feet with its maze of neighborhoods, streets, and stairways, asking to be protected.

Piazza V.Veneto -Fontana

Don’t wait too long to see Matera, Puglia, and surrounding areas. Major publications in the world are writing about the area and tourists are flocking along with Hollywood actors who are filming and purchasing properties for their originality and the mystical energy those dwellings emanate. You will feel being pulled towards to earth.

If you are thinking of venturing in Puglia check out my Puglia page – https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/. Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

This post is in response to this week WP photo challenge – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/grid/

 


Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Val:FarfalleStampI am writing a travel diary of my last trip to Puglia with an American group and sharing with all of you my notes of feelings, observations, food-wine tasting and experiences that have changed the lives of people traveling with me. The trips I organize are made for people who want to live it up in Puglia! In my books about Puglia cuisine, readers will find many easy recipes to follow at home. Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Living In The Womb Of The Earth | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Last time I took a group of American travelers to Italy we visited Matera, a medium size town in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. Matera is the largest town in this region and has been the capital town of Basilicata since 1806. The town lies in a small canyon, which has been eroded in the course of years by a small stream of water and that Canyon is called the Gravina. Matera is also known as the Subterranean City, due to its infamous homes created in the caves inside of the rocks of that canyon.

However, a few years ago, Hollywood and Italian Cinecitta’ chose Matera as the set for filming in 1964 of the The Gospel According to St Matthew  by Italian produce Pier Paolo Pasolini, and in 2004 for Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ.  Presently, another film is in production, the remake of historic 1959 blockbuster film Ben Hur, in which are now starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Huston.
In 1993 UNESCO declared Matera a World Heritage Site and last year it was nominated the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Due to all the new interests in the area, many activities and cultural initiatives have sprung up, like the World Book Fair of women writers from all over the world.

What really makes this area so distinctively interesting is not the formal Italian architecture found in Italy, in fact the historic center of the town does not have examples of buildings or palazzi of particular value or refinement, the interests lies in the homes made for poor people inside of caves in the canyon (Gravina), or else known as Sassi.  Those homes are examples of spontaneous architecture created out of necessity, where poor people were destined to live. Not having any place to go they excavated their homes inside of the womb of the earth. Visiting these ancient cave homes, one feels enveloped, embraced and a closed relationship with the womb of the earth. The original homes are made with local tufa stone, which is a particular calcareous limestone, malleable that gives out a feeling of warmth when is left exposed and not covered with other materials on top. Tufa stone gives out a feeling of authenticity and natural as nature created. It is not uncommon to find rock fossils of seashells in the tufa stones, which makes these homes so authentic.

As I said, poor people lived there, but during the ’60s and ‘70s the government offered them low-income housing arrangement with running water and electricity and little by little they vacated the caves for a better and more modern living in the town. Today, after Hollywood filming and Unesco recognition as World Heritage, local people are returning to cave living, making some big improvements with modern amenities. Now we see elegant hotels and restaurants being propped in there that are maintaining the characteristic of the caves.

If I were the designer remaking these cave homes, I would work with a warm palette that agrees with the warm tones of the tufa stone, using oxidized or etched copper as fixtures to recreate the patina of a corroding water stream. I would use opaque resins with oxides coating, type of Venetian style and for the floor, I would use the typical street pavement of the area called chianche, very beautiful stones or handmade ancient terracotta without cooked waked on top. For the furniture, I would choose the shabby chic style. Although in general I do not much like it, especially when it is very distressed, I believe it would be the most compatible with the type of environments we are confronted in the “Sassi”.

The air in the “SAssi” area is mystical, it is impossible not to feel a strong attraction and bewitched by the surroundings. The energy that comes up from the earth is truly magical, especially at night. Some of the visitors during my last trip to the area suggested that the Italian government should build a theatre in the canyon for aspiring actors from all over the world where they can practice their theatre plays. The mystical atmosphere is already there, they need to create the rest. Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Val Admiring World As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism.  Through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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