“are We not as people, not as Christians, we are animals, because Christ stopped at Eboli, but not to us.” Hear phrases like these writer Carlo Levi often in Basilicata, a seemingly God-forsaken spots on the map, all the way down in the South, in the Shoe sole of the Italian boot. Here, in the mountain village of Aliano, the anti-Levi fascist lived from 1935 to 1936 in exile. In 1945, the car appeared in the biographical novel “Christ stopped at Eboli” that made him world-famous.

Almost 20 years later, Jesus is suddenly standing to the South of Eboli: in the cave city of Matera. “Jerusalem, you still steinigst my Ambassador. But see, no stone will be left upon another, this place will be deserted and uninhabited”, he speaks of the roofs to the disciples, the Romans and the Pharisees – and in film cameras.


The Jesus in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s famous Bible-movie epic, “The 1. The gospel according to Matthew” was played in 1964, the Catalan actor Enrique Irazoqui. Secret main actor but the city of Matera, with their walls, their stones, the hot Italian for sassi . According to them, the old quarter is named with the ancient cave dwellings, in which, in 1950, lived about 15,000 people.

Matera, for Pasolini, is the perfect filming location

the mid-sixties, after the forced Exodus uninhabited, was gone the life out of the caves and the black holes gave off an eerie Aura. Director Pier Paolo Pasolini realized the strong Suction of the scenario, he had previously sought in Palestine in vain for suitable locations for his biblical film.

“Pasolini chose Matera because it was a timeless stage, the existentialist, and a place of the soul, a state of mind,” says Peppe notary Angelo. “He turned up here in a suit and tie. Out of respect for the history of the town, and quite against his habit.”

Pier Paolo Pasolini in Matera

notary Angelo sitting in front of the screen of his Studios in Matera’s new town and clicks through film archives. His father, Domenico Notarangelo, photo journalist of the left newspaper “UNITA”, started out in 1960 as one of the First, the city of Matera and its inhabitants. In Thousands of Black-and-White photos, he showed the poverty and the hard, barren life, in the wrinkles around the eyes and mouths of the people dug. Faces, which were also Pasolini and so he decided to Materaner as Amateur actors in his Film.

notary Angelo senior, the 2016 died, had a self as a speaking extra in the case of Pasolini’s film and played the role of a Roman centurion. “Because Photography was forbidden during the shoot, he hid tutu, the camera, under the Romans, and shot secretly,” says his son. The images went around the world and are now part of the archive, these are the sons of Peppe, Mario and Toni digitizing currently.

Over 50 movie productions were created since 1950, in Matera. To get the locations it is best with a tour guide like Dora Cappiello. You will begin your Tour at the Church of San Pietro Caveoso, which is perched spectacularly above the abyss of Gravina. “Here, on the wide square in front of the Church, a number of movie scenes,” says Cappiello, whose members were also cave-dwellers. “Up there on the Murgia plateau, Pasolini turned the crucifixion scenes of Golgotha rises.”

“very Touching, sad beauty of the city”

for The first 30 years of the most famous were the Italian Directors in Matera, the film flap is in the Hand of Neorealisten such as Carlo Lizzani and Roberto Rossellini, the “touching sad beauty of the city” (Carlo Levi) praised, to Dino Risi, Lina wertmuller and Francesco Rosi, who took advantage of the atmosphere of the cave city for Bible movies. Later, the Taviani brothers, Michele Placido and Giuseppe Tornatore followed.

Then Hollywood came. “In 1983, Bruce Beresford turned Gere in the Bible drama ‘king David’ with Richard,” says Cappiello. “Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the production of an old Church.” The Film was a Flop. Gere earned a Golden raspberry for his Part, the cave city cemented their reputation as the “second Bethlehem”.

Europe’s capital of culture 2019: Matera, the impossible city

“In the Sassi, the people still lived like in the middle ages, that was good for the cameras,” says Cappiello and ascends a steep stone staircase. Capers plants and cactus green between the cracks in the Walls. “There, at the bottom of the Porta Pistola the Remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ was shot with the Morning Freeman, and Pasolini filmed there, the entry into Jerusalem.”

Dora Cappiello comes from here, but studied in Rome. When she left in 2002 to return to Matera, declared you crazy. However, the Süditalienerin wanted to build in something to their home. “Initially, it was just a Hobby, to work as a Guide.” Today, your Agency Ferulaviaggi has at least five employees.

Mel Gibson and “the Passion of The Christ”

“the architecture of The city, the rocks – when I saw Matera for the first Time, I lost almost the head,” said Mel Gibson, who finished 2004 with “the Passion of The Christ” is a brutal and radical staging of the last twelve hours in the life of Christ.

The Australians had studied the crucifixion scenes of local churches and to prepare for fairs in Latin to read. Then nature played: During filming of the crucifixion flashed a flash of lightning over the great karst of the Murgia Timone back and reinforced the already gloomy scene.

Andrea David / Filmtourismus.de movies and series 2018: Thus, rotation of places to see really made of

How important is the cinema tourism to Matera? “2017 and 400,000 visited the city, in 2019, we expect twice as many, because Matera is the European capital of culture. But the forecast is probably too low,” says Cappiello. Then, it controls the historical Museum “Casa Noha”, where the permanent video installation “I sassi invisibili” shows historical insights into the history of the city, which was once considered the shame of Italy and of great backwardness was marked.

that’s Exactly why, because Matera seems to have fallen out of the time, likes the cinema-the-Scenes of today’s 60,000 residents, the city. “Unfortunately, many films have left a little bit,” regrets Peppe notary Angelo. “There is no film industry, no film Museum, not a Festival.” After all, the city has three cinemas, and who visited in the evening, the Ristorante “La Lopa” in Via Bruno Buozzi, can be seen in the former wine cellar of the most beautiful clips of all in Matera films.

Franziska Horn is a freelance writer from SPIEGEL ONLINE. The trip was supported in part by ENIT and APT Basilicata.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.