The natural beauty and cultural curiosity of Italy’s southern regions are about to be a secret no longer.
This year, Matera which lies in the poor region of Basilicata, the instep of Italy’s famed boot, is being celebrated as the European Capital of Culture 2019. Not that long ago, the sassi, cave dwellings which today attract artists and film-makers from around the world, were home to one of the poorest settlements in Italy. In 1947, Carlo Levi’s book Christ stopped at Eboli, brought to the public’s attention the extreme poverty in which people were living and the government was shamed into action. People were moved from the caves and rehoused nearby, and the old town was abandoned until the 1980s when people started to move back.
Tourism here has been developed slowly and carefully so you won’t find any hotel and restaurant chains here,rather locals who have turned the ‘national shame’ where their grandparents lived, into a hope for the region’s future.
To find out about the latest events, check out the official Matera 2019 website
Leonardo da Vinci
2019 celebrates 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci. The original Renaissance Man, da Vinci tried his hand at everything from military tactics to botany, though he is of course best known for his paintings. Born in Vinci, near Florence, Leonardo worked for the Medici Family in Florence, the Sforza in Milan and the Medici pope, Leo X, in Rome. In each of these cities, you can admire numerous works, as well as exhibitions dedicated to his engineering projects. To learn more about da Vinci’s life and work, take a tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Vatican Museums in Rome and make sure you book early to see The Last Supper in Milan.