Aliano: Where Carlo Levi was exiled
Aliano is as off the beaten path as you can get in Italy. It is where he was"confined in isolation" by Mussolini in the mid 1930's for his anti-Fascist activities. His experiences and observations in the town led to his writing his great social work "Christ Stopped at Eboli" Aliano is called Gagliano in the book. If you have the resources , it makes Levi's report more alive and vital. We went. Our adventure is covered in pages and tips under Aliano, if you are interested. But read the book!. It is a masterpiece.
A Visit to the Sassi
"Down in the Sassi"
Led by an English-speaking guide provided by the tourist office, our group entered the Sassi in the Baresano section in lanes between deserted houses hewn from hollows and assembled cut blocks. We were shown channels and cisterns and other devices for collecting rain-water from roofs.(Of course there was no sewer system or electricity).
"A Ghost town"
There were tiers of carved stairs and ramps from one level to another and no roads for vehicles. We peered into cave-like structures, all was deserted, as was to be expected.
"An inhabited dwelling"
We visited a "3-room" home and adjacent shop of an artesan in papier-mache. As you can see he had some electricity. How they obtained water and sewage removal they did not tell us. (I think he was the father of the guide and that she was born there). The finish of his dwelling was a little smoother than the unoccupied ones and there were windows with wooden frames cut in the outside walls that provided some light. The guide stated that he was proud to be one of the few former residents who merited a return to the Sassi. Still he must have carried his boxed products on his back to a higher level to deliver them to a truck for shipping.
"A Rock Church"
Some distance off we visited a rock church, Santa Lucia alle Malve with internal rock carving that simulates niches, chapels and altarsof a built church. These are earler than the 10C and the mural paintings are of the 11 and 12C and of course are of religious figures such as Saint Gregory here.
"Another Part of the Sassi"
We were taken to another area where the street came into the edge of the Sassi. This gave access to small trucks and some parking. Better electrification (and other utilities) were visible. This is where the "modern" regentrification is occurring. We visited a bar and tea room sandwich shop. There were rest rooms so there must be a solution to sewage disposal and water supply that were not visible.
"Big Future Plans"
Next to the bar was a "conference center" and banquet (weddings?) rooms. They were of good size and decoratively carved from the warm stone,
"A New "Industry""
A strret away we visited a small factory employing several artesans who were working mines tufa to create furniture accessories such as lamps and end-tables. It was clear that the tufa handled like wood.The workman is cutting it here with a hand saw.
"Where is the Market?"
There is no doubt that tufa is a warm soft stone material or that the creations are pleasing. But shipping by the peice from Matera (the stone is not as sturdy as say marble) is not well established. Most of the tourists and mercantile buyers are Italian. Electricity powered the lighting, lathes and computers. Maybe Natuzzi with their strong finance and international marketing will take the tufa cutting industry on and we will see the products in Walmart. In the meantime they may not make it.