MATERA! Located in Basilicata in southern Italy, Matera has been designated the 2019 European Capital of Culture. The city is most well known for its Sassi, the caves in the cliffside that were homes to people until 1952 when the government forced people to move out of the caves and into the town.
Mr. Slice and I have been several times when we lived in nearby Martina France, Puglia. We once spoke with a woman whose family stayed in the caves well into the 1970s. Into her late 80s now, she admitted she missed the caves and was still not used to living in the town.
Materia is unlike any other place I've been. Because of its uniqueness, it is often the set of movies. Twice on visits to Matera we've caught the filming of two difference major motion pictures. The town and caves are apparently a good substitute for Biblical locations stories.
Oh and obviously I found some great places to eat and drink ;)
Contact me to plan your trip to southern Italy and your stop in Matera.
Walking around my neighborhood is always an adventure. Santo Spirito is the artistic soul of Florence lying south of the Arno River across the Ponte Vecchio. It is considered one of the few neighborhoods in Florence's city center where the true "Florentines" live. It also has a high concentration of working studios where you can find blacksmiths and carpenters as well as glass specialists and modern artists.
I recently discovered a small studio around the corner from my house. I was walking by when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a man working amidst a sea of stark white books. He appeared to be creating a tower with the books and was using a vice to clamp them together. I immediately invited myself inside. I wanted to know everything about him and these gorgeous white books.
Lorenzo introduced himself and his lovely wife Simona who was assisting in the studio, and told me the story of his Libri Bianchi. He has been working in this Santo Spirito studio for 12 years taking books and expressing his interpretation of the story giving by life to the pages.
Lorenzo's books flip and fold, pages turn, and lay open in a precise manner which he creates using simple materials like plaster and glue. Sometimes in stacks or using small props to communicate his message, the books are visually stunning and convey something entirely new and different under Lorenzo's influence.
The books he uses are often about oppression or convey a profound truth, which he then takes and creates a visual representation of the truth, as he sees it, with his hands. His hands, he explained, are the most important part of his work - allowing him to exact his representation in the most meaningful way.