Matera 2019

Three hundred volunteers, male and female, an important part of the city’s population, who wanted to add their contribution to the realisation of not just an event, but the first stretch of an itinerary that will last the whole year. Three hundred people, all different, who by participating unveiled the meaning of the word community. It is their faces, their words, their looks, all different and unique, that tell in the best way how 19 January represented the important confirmation of new community bonds, a new way of living and crossing through the area.

It is an identity that was built through the sharing of spaces and actions, that integrates without absorbing, not flaunted but serene. There is a retired woman who found it natural to work hard for her city, after having seen it change over the past fifty years. There is a man who smiles and talks about how his first thought when waking up was to put on his volunteer’s sweatshirt and welcome his Dutch guests so they could feel at home. And there is also a boy who, in collective participation, glimpses the possibility of a rebirth that involves everyone, none excluded.

The bet on involvement was the most difficult to win. The volunteers, all of them, showed that collectivity can move together, can find, not in one day but along a road, a common land of exchange and enthusiasm and so become a community.

This was the positive power that invaded the city, from Cava del Sole to the food-laden tables in the neighbourhoods, from the information points to the roads animated by musical bands. Each and every volunteer took part in the successful conclusion of a moment that they could feel as their own, a collective rite created by many different individualities and many different histories.

The enthusiasm and power of this new open and evolving community represent one of the fundamental resources, precious blood, needed to complete the itinerary that has only just begun.

And if pride is to be highlighted, is to tell about what kind of air was breathed in by the volunteers, it has to be taken at its most joyous meaning. No retreat into themselves, but an extraordinary desire to open and welcome. An enthusiasm highlighted by the continual reference to Europe, a concept that returned constantly in the words of those who worked hard so that this day could be successful. “Matera embraces Europe,” said a moved, tired but happy volunteer before the curtain fell on the opening ceremony. Then again, Matera is Europe, and will be so a bit more from now on. Matera is the European Capital of Culture, also thanks to these wonderful three hundred people.