We're pleased to continue presenting Exposures: An Aperture Blog, where fine-art photography enthusiasts around the world can interact with some of the most engaged professionals in the field. We welcome your comments.

19 September 2007


We visited Matera.

Matera is a very old town where the people used to live in caves. Matera is built on top of the ridge now, but in the old days the people lived below the city inside the mountain. They had a complete city including churches, shops, houses and water containers, all dug out of the rocks.We went in with someone who was involved with the restoration of the caves.

Years ago a politician came by to visit the place and he was shocked by the sight of people still living there. He passed a law that forbade people to live in the caves any longer. Soon the caves were abandoned. They even disposed of the water that had filled the containers for centuries.

After they realized that they also had something very valuable in their midst, they went back to restore the caves. When they tried to fill up the fresh water containers again, they found out that the water was disappearing into the stone as quickly as it was poured in. After a study they found out that the people who had built the caves used some kind of egg-white with which they treated the walls of the water containers, so they would be watertight. Now they are trying to restore even that.

Some people even went back into the caves because they didn’t like living in houses on top of the ridge.

During the period in which the caves were abandoned, thieves came along to chop out the faces of centuries-old frescos. Now they are behind bars.In the lower picture you can see how they have been carving off the surface in order to take out the entire face of this fresco.

This place was also the setting for the last scene of the Mel Gibson movie The Passion Of The Christ.

No comments: