Southern Italy’s Diverse Heritage (part III)

Apr 10, 2017 625


We made a brief stop at Grassano, one of the two small southern villages where Mussolini exiled Carlo Levi to silence him during the fascist’s ruinous reign.  But the real story of both Scotellaro and Levi is found in Matera. In Christ Stopped in Eboli Levi, a doctor and painter as well, also wrote briefly about the horrible conditions of Matera’s sassi-dwelling contadini.

Life in the warren of caves during the first half of the twentieth century was as miserable as it was in Cornelisen’s and Scotellaro’s Tricarico.  Living in their unhealthful sassi, peasants lived on the brink of starvation in a malaria infested environment. Levi wrote that when he visited Matera in the 1940s, upon learning that he was a doctor, children would chase him through the streets, not asking for food or money, but for quinine to help alleviate the symptoms of the malaria that ravaged their frail bodies. 

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