Matera

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Matera About this sound listen is a town and a province in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Matera. The town lies athwart a small canyon, which has been eroded in the course of years by a small stream, the Gravina.

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History

The area of what is now Matera has been settled since the Palaeolithic. The city was allegedly founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, with the name of Matheola after the consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus. In AD 664 Matera was conquered by the Lombards and became part of the Duchy of Benevento. In the 7th and 8th centuries the nearby grottos were colonized by both Benedictine and Greek-Orthodox monastic institutions. The 9th and 10th centuries were characterized by the struggle between Saracens, Byzantines and the German emperors, including Louis II, who destroyed the city. After the settlement of the Normans in Apulia, Matera was ruled by William Iron-Arm from 1043. After a short communal phase and a series of pestilences and earthquakes, the city in the fifteenth century became an Aragonese possession, and was given in fief to the barons of the Tramontano family. In 1514, however, the population rebelled against the oppression and killed Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano. In the seventeenth century Matera was handed over to the Orsini and then became part of the Terre d'Otranto di Puglia. Later it was capital of Basilicata, a position it retained until 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte reassigned it to Potenza. In 1927 it became capital of the Matera province. On September 21, 1943, the Materani rose against the German occupation, the first Italian city to fight against the Wehrmacht.

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