Matera, Italy: The City of Caves with Danielle Oteri
Matera, Italy is a charming city in Southern Italy, nestled in an ancient canyon that was carved by the Gravina River. The area is known as one of the oldest continually inhabited regions of continental Europe and is comprised of cave dwellings and churches which have stood the test of time.
Our conversation will examine the key chapters of this remarkable city's history, from its state of decline to its designation as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1993. Participants will learn about the ingenious system of channels and cisterns which connect the city, as well as the Crypt of the Original Sin–nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian Art.
Together we will also learn about how Matera's state of decline contributed to references in Carlo Levi's book Christ Stopped at Eboli. Because Matera's cave dwellings had become famous for poor sanitation and desolate working conditions, residents were evacuated in 1952 and relocated to modern housing. During the 1980s investors transformed the cave dwellings into a tourism destination, with hotels, small museums and restaurants – and a vibrant arts community.
Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants in this conversation will come away with an increased understanding of this remarkable, historic city – designated a European Cultural Capital in 2019.
Danielle Oteri is an expert on Roman, medieval and Renaissance art. She was a Lecturer at the Met Cloisters for fifteen years and has been Program Director of the International Center of Medieval Art since 2008. Danielle has written about art, history, food and travel for Conde Nast Traveler, Gothamist, NPR and Roads & Kingdoms. She is the founder of Feast on History and Arthur Avenue Food Tours.