Matera, Italy, is known as the ‘Città dei Sassi’, the City of the Stones, one of the oldest conglomerates of dwellings in the world. The ‘Sassi di of Matera’ are homes carved out of the rock near the ‘Gravina’, a deep ravine that divides the territory in two. The geographical layout of the land has hidden the city from the rest of the world for thousands of years, preserving it for several centuries. The choice of this site has assured extreme security to the town, but it has also caused its citizens great difficulty in getting water. Since ancient times, the people of Matera concentrated their efforts not so much on building houses as on digging cisterns and the relative water distribution systems. From this standpoint, Matera is one of the oldest and best preserved examples of bio-architecture in the world. The health and social decline that lasted from the 19th century until the after the end of the Second World War finally came to an end in the 1950s after the book ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli’ by Carlo Levi was published, which included a description of the precarious hygienic conditions in the ‘Sassi’. Thanks to this novel, the Italian government, under Alcide De Gaspari, signed the first special law that allowed Matera citizens who lived in the ‘Sassi’ to move to healthier modern homes. The ‘Sassi’ were recognised in 1993 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first in southern Italy to receive this acknowledgement. In recent months, Matera has been named European City of Culture for 2019. Today, Matera is the focus of an extraordinary cultural and architectural recovery project that is progressively restoring value and prestige to the city on a global scale.
For many years, Neri has been working with Matera to provide suitable lighting and enhance its beauty. Different types lighting systems have been chosen for different areas of the city, to integrate better into the variedarchitectural contexts and enhance the lines and atmospheres with appropriate lighting. In via Domenico Ridola, in front of the Archaeological Museum, the Maia system has been installed with ‘Light 32’. Piazza San Francesco has been equipped with the Kuma system with ‘Light 801’. In front of Palazzo Lanfranchi, we decided to use the Heka system with ‘Light 22’. In Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Neri’s most historical project, the Kuma system with ‘Light 800’ was preferred. The new district of the Matera Municipal building is lit with the modern Mizar system with ‘Light 22’. Lighting in the ‘Sassi’, Matera’s great open air monument, is provided by a luminaire that is similar to the old ‘Enel piattello’: ‘Light 100’, mounted on brackets or posts. For streets in the centre with motorised traffic that are lit with various types of lamp posts with spherical lights, Neri has suggested the brand new Polaris with LEDs. A different light, a radical change compared to the previous lighting system.
Neri’s Salix series cast iron flower pots now furnish several points in the historical centre, and are a perfect match with the design of the lamp posts. Even the information points in via Emanuele Duni are a good example of choices that provide continuity in the street furnishings to produce an aesthetically harmonious general layout.