An Ancient Corner of Italy Finds the World on Its Doorstep

We had met Ms. De Filippo in the Cinecittà Bar at the Margherita. I’ve hung out in Puglia, Calabria and Sicily — however Basilicata is totally different, calmer. I requested Ms. De Filippo, who grew up close by, why Basilicata is quieter than the surrounding areas.

“We like say that we are so poor that even the mafia isn’t interested in us,” she stated, wryly. You can solely be in southern Italy for thus lengthy earlier than the topic comes up — the oppressiveness that hangs over all the things like a low cloud cowl that by no means burns off. Sicily and the Cosa Nostra. Calabria, which shares a border with Basilicata, and the ’ndrangheta, arguably the most violent organized crime group in Italy. But Basilicata, smack in the center of southern Italy, has no main prison aspect.

“The real Lucani are poor, naïve maybe, but they are kind,” stated Ms. De Filippo, utilizing the area’s alternate title. “Farmers, shepherds, they are not people that the mafia is interested in. They are simple, but incredibly generous.”

They have been prescient phrases.

When we acquired again in the Legomobile, we referred to as a person named Daniele Kihlgren, the proprietor of Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, simply the most luxurious lodge in Matera. Mr. Kihlgren is essentially credited with advancing the albergo diffuso motion in Italy. It champions the concept that disparate buildings, versus a single, monolithic constructing, can comprise a lodge. Albergo diffuso, subtle lodge, has performed an enormous function in preserving historic cities and buildings. By all accounts, Mr. Kihlgren is a conservationist, a person of impeccable style, and one thing of a personality.

We reached him as he was driving north by bike to his different lodge in Abruzzo. (We had scheduled an interview a couple of days earlier, however issues come up, particularly in Italy.) No worries, he would completely happy to show round, he stated. What about the storm coming in? We requested. He wasn’t anxious.

By night, torrential rain had turned biblical, as Mr. Kihlgren drove his bike to fulfill us for dinner. Rivers of rainwater coursed down the steps and streets of Matera, power-washing the metropolis, cleaning it of something that wasn’t millennia-old.

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