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Matera, Italy

February 20th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

Matera is a town and a province in the region of Basilicata, sometimes referred to as Lucania, in the south of Italy.

Apart from an economy which has traditionally been based on agriculture, in the late 1990s the major economic base of Matera, and of surrounding cities, is the production of upholstered furniture.

The town lies athwart a small canyon, which has been eroded in the course of years by a small stream, the Gravina.

The area of what is now Matera has been settled since the Palaeolithic. The city was allegedly founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BCE, with the name of Metheola after the consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus.

In 664 CE Matera was conquered by the Lombards and became part of the Duchy of Benevento. In the 7th and 8th centuries the nearby grottos were colonized by both Benedictine and Greek-Orthodox monastic institutions.

The 9th and 10th centuries were characterized by the struggle between Saracens, Byzantines and the German emperors, including Louis II, who destroyed the city. After the settlement of the Normans in Apulia, Matera was ruled by William Iron-Arm from 1043.

After a short communal phase and a series of pestilences and earthquakes, the city in the fifteenth century became an Aragonese possession, and was given in fief to the Tramontano family. In 1514, however, the population, rebelled against the oppression and killed count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano. In the seventeenth century Matera was handed over to the Orsini and then became part of the Terre d'Otranto di Puglia. Later it was capital of Basilicata, a position it retained until 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte reassigned it to Potenza.

In 1927 it became capital of the Matera province. On September 21, 1943, the Materani rose against the German occupation, the first Italian city to fight against the Wehrmacht.

Parts of The Passion of the Christ by Mell Gibson where made in this city.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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