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The cave dwellings in the Sassi - Interiors

Bed typical of cave dwellings of Matera

The cave dwelling is the’typical house Sassi dug into the tufa rock. Much of Matera peasants lived there with the whole family and the animals, by mule to the pigs.
The cave dwellings were located on the ground floor and consist of a single compartment, lighted and ventilated from the front door and a window placed on the top of the door.
The stable It was one with the human habitation: Sometimes the manger was so close to the beds that, overnight, it was not unusual that the mules posassero the muzzle on the bed of the master.
In a corner of the room, He was the bed with stuffed mattress Corn leaves, placed on two feet tall to outdistance much from the floor, It is to use the space as a warehouse and for isolating the bed of the floor from moisture, It is seen that there was the water tank the post office 5-6 m below the decking; In fact, in the absence of running water the water collection system was the only way to deal with all the daily needs and the periods of greatest adversity.
Next to the bed was a dresser to more pull tabs that, for larger families, They acted as cradle for young children. Above the dresser were arranged one or more glass bells, containing the patron saints, and many photographs of relatives, living and dead.
At the center of the room was a small table, on which it was placed the only dish used to the frugal meals of the family.
The terminal part of the house was occupied by letamaio, the stock of straw and a small quarry tuff from which were obtained the tuff blocks to beautify the entrance door or to the finishing elements.
In a house like that could live up to 10 people, although it must be said that to live means eating and sleeping, since life took place in neighborhood for women, children and elderly and camps for men.

The cave dwellings in the Sassi - The bio-architecture

Rain made up of pork bones

Rainwater harvesting, the use of animals as a natural heat source, the reuse of materials and manufacturing techniques is aimed at the exploitation of the sun make the cave houses an outstanding example of sustainable architecture. The peculiarity of these houses lies in the wisdom of a peasant culture that, without any kind of theoretical knowledge, He has managed to strive to make the most of few resources that the nature proposed. Of particular and curious interest is the technique that was used to support the downpipes for the channeling of rainwater. As you can see from the photos, the pork bones They had a shape such as to mate perfectly with the terracotta tiles.

The cave dwellings in the Sassi - displacement

set of cave dwellings of Matera

The perfect ecosystem of Sassi, that he had persisted for many years, with the efficient system of water collection and a good level of life began to decline from 1800.
The crisis of pastoralism has led thousands of farmers to leave the outermost campaigns to land in the Sassi. Where previously lived one family now they crowding three or four, causing a rapid increase in population density and, the inevitable deterioration of quality of life.
Furthermore, the new inhabitants of ricavavano Sassi makeshift homes even in water tanks that were vital to the water supply of the Sassi. With a little water and three times more inhabitants the collapsed Sassi bringing misery and death. The situation worsened until the forties, when the Sassi in this sorry state were visited by Carlo Levi, who described them in "Christ Stopped at Eboli".
The clamor of the book Carlo Levi He pushed many men of culture and politicians to act quickly for that “shame of Italy". Alcide de Gasperi in 1954 He signed the first Special Law for the evacuation of the Sassi.
All the inhabitants of the city were obliged to abandon their homes and move into new quarters for the decision of the State. It was the first time in the world that what happened. The largest employers, sociology, anthropology, architects and planners of the time, including Adriano Olivetti, Piccinato, Quaroni and Aymonino, were called upon to design the new districts of the city that would have welcomed the 15.000 displaced persons
three rural villages were built (La Martella, Venusio e Picciano) in full respect of the Plan. Matera was one of the first Italian city to adopt a master plan, which was surprisingly followed to the letter.
The new quarters were built according to the Scandinavian model, ie providing large green areas both internal and external to separate neighborhoods with broad sliding roads.
Matera was such a lively city with an old town quite dead, and the Stones were defined as the largest historic center completely abandoned the world. Their fate was not entirely discount: continue to be abandoned, demolish and then rebuild new homes or recover the old houses to make the biggest open-air museum. The path taken is before our eyes, and the first to notice the beauty of Matera were many international directors and essayists.