“It is a sign of civilization and redemption that from Matera and Southern Italy is sent to Europe.” This is the declaration of the Mayor of Matera, Salvatore Alleges, after the coronation of Matera as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, along with Plovdiv in Bulgaria. With seven votes out of 13, the city of the Sassi (City of Stones) defeated Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia, Siena, and Ravenna in competition for the prestigious recognition.
“It was not a foregone conclusion, but we have achieved it thanks to the work of a team,” said the mayor. Now it’s up to him and his staff to organize the city and make it receptive in time for 2019. The first test is the coming Christmas holiday season, when the number of tourists may already record an increase. And to improve the reception at such short notice it is not an easy task.
The “Open Future Plan” presented to the European Commission by the “Matera Basilicata – 2019” will be the starting point. On the agenda there are formal meetings, promotional activities, training of the local community, and a program for public works and services. The mayor will meet shortly in the Basilicata region, with the mayors of other cities’ finalists to create the network “Italy 2019” as well as the representatives of neighboring areas, who have always supported the election of Matera as the European Capital.
The paragraph “Culture” in the file “Open Future” indicates an investment of 50 million euros until 2022, of which 30 are available (25 in the region and 5 in the city). The section regards the investment in works (cultural infrastructure, urban regeneration, and accessibility), and is substantial and partially financed by Structural Funds or is to be financed with other resources for a total of 650 million euro.
On the subject of roads, the mayor claims that other entities, such as Anas (Authonomus, the national road company) “can make a real contribution in enhancing the access network to the city, for example, to link with the A14 junction Gioia del Colle and the adaptation of Matera-Ferrandina for connections to Potenza with the inland areas and the Metaponto.
The mayor confirmed that road works to reach the airport of Palese are speeding up. As for the shuttle services from Matera to Bari Airport, a proposal is under study to improve this service. Among other projects there is the regional theater for which funds the city can grant a contribution of 7 million available from the Pisu funds.
The mayor makes no estimates on the financial benefits that will trickle down from Matera 2019, however, this will stimulate the central government and the Basilicata region to participate with additional investments that will bring value to the culture and the tourism of the territory and of the country.