Matera 2019

Roots and routes

Grottole is a Genuine Old Town near Matera. It has an ancient story, and gets its name from the natural grottoes - prehistoric homes turned into ceramics workshops. Grottole is full of treasures, hidden in the churches, in the ruins of the Lombard castle, and in the beautiful landscape that surrounds it. Despite this, the village is emptying, as many other small Italian villages are, losing their inhabitants and sealing their fate. This is where Tony comes in.  

On the night of 21st September 2019, eight beams of light will shine down from the sky. Under every beam, like a treasure at the end of a rainbow, there will be eight cave churches. Visitors will have to just follow the path indicated by the light.

The eight churches on this itinerary are: Santa Margherita, Santa Lucia dei Giaconelli, Spirito Santo and Madonna delle Spinelle in Melfi, and Crocifisso, Santa Barbara, Sant’Elia and Santa Maria della Stella in Rapolla. The churches were built between the 10th and 13th centuries, and link the two towns which already share much history.

There is a tradition at the Madonna del Pollino Sanctuary in San Severino: walk three times around the temple, on the summit of a cliff, before entering the church on your knees. In the past, the faithful also used to beat their chest, cross the nearby river barefoot as a symbol of purification, touch a holy image with flowers gathered in the woods, or organise nightly wakes.