Living Histories – An Unconventional Tourism Experience in Matera

On Wednesday 8 May, 2024, a first test of ‘Living Histories’ took place.

What is ‘Living Histories’?

‘Living Histories’ is a new tourism experience in the city of Matera, in the region of Basilicata (Southern Italy). It was born from the idea of Raffaele Giannella, a young tourism entrepreneur graduated in political sciences with a thesis on sustainable tourism, who had in mind an ‘open-air museumin the historical neighbourhoods of Matera where the former inhabitants of Sassi were given the ‘choice-not-choice’ to move due to the De Gasperi law, which imposed the evacuation of the Sassi on 17 May 1952.

How did the idea sprout and evolve?

Raffaele’s idea was based, first of all, on the urgency of relieving the historic centre of the massive tourism flows, favouring both tourism dispersal towards lesser known parts of the city of Matera, and more interactive, transformative, unconventional experiences.

The idea also benefited from benchmarking regarding similar experiments done in the past, for example:

During Grassroots’ 3-days hackathon in Matera, in October 2023, the teamwork with international entrepreneurs and the mentors’ feedback provided food for thought for Raffaele from October until May.

The first test in May 2024

The beta testers (to use startup world’s vocabulary) were 20 women from UISP Matera.

The partners were Luca Pisciotta a tourism guide, and Sara Simeone from Materahub, partner organisation of Grassroots project, who mentored the idea from the very beginning.

The tour included 9 stops, corresponding to architectural, sociological, cultural and natural points of interest of the neighbourhood Serra Venerdì. The guide also provided pictures from the 50s to compare the former status with the actual status of some buildings.

At the intermediary and final stops, there was a quiz testing if participants, divided into teams, had retained the key info of the tour. There was also a small prize for the winning team!

Once the tour was over, participants field in some feedback forms with open questions, to improve the experience in the future.

And now?

While the first test was free of charge, there is the idea to turn this into a properly running business, but in order to proceed there is the need to:

  • test and iterate the experience until it is ‘sellable’;
  • do some due diligence;
  • involve local people to tell their stories, recalling the open-air museum or case studies of reference such as the Human Library;
  • potentially, create an alternative to the guided tour by using Thinglink.

Stay tuned on Grassroots channels to keep updated on future developments of Living Histories, one of the incubated experiences of this Erasmus+ project!

Written by: Sara Simone

Project Designer and Manager
Consorzio materahub_Industrie Culturali e Creative