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Matera, 2019 European Capital of Culture

"The Sassi and Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera represent an outstanding example of a rock-cut settlement, adapted perfectly to its geomorphological setting and ecosystem and exhibiting continuity over more than two millenia." UNESCO World Heritage Site Criterion (iii)
Matera was once called "the shame of Italy". This city in the Basilicata region in Southern Italy is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the world. It was depopulated in the 1950s due to the wretched and unhealthy living conditions of its residents. It continues to be rehabilitated today and has been named one of two European Capital of Culture for 2019, an honor it received over other finalists like Perugia, Ravenna and Siena. 
San Pietro Barisano is the largest rupestrian church in Matera. It's possible to see the 12-13th century rupestrian structure under the church floor where the extensive passageways are extremely narrow and feels claustrophobic. 
The altars above ground were s…

Paris in Winter

If winter is about grey skies, showers and chilling temperatures, then there's all that in Paris in January. So why go at such an inhospitable time? Because Paris in winter is moody (great for photo ops), less frantic, the bi-annual store sales are irresistible, and you don't have to fight with the swarm of selfie indulgent tourists.

There is no absence of color beneath the threatening cloud cover.

These pastel painted houses were my neighbors during my stay in Paris. I counted five visitors here, myself included. 

I was at once elated, captivated and saddened to see Notre-Dame de Paris again. Elated that I could behold her in festive finery, captivated by her timeless beauty but saddened by the reality of the threat of terrorism.  For a moment I felt fear when I saw policemen dressed in combat gear with high powered rifles patrolling the cathedral. We shouldn't have to accept this as the new norm. But life must go on.

The sixth of January is the feast of the Three Kings. The …

Highlights of Puglia and Basilicata

Basilica di San Nicola Bari was my base of exploration for Puglia and Basilicata. Trains to all the places I wanted to explore departed from Bari several times a day. But Bari has also many attractions including the Basilica of San Nicola from the 12th century and is a place of pilgrimage for the relics of Saint Nicholas.

Ostuni This white washed, hilltop village was a bit of a challenge to photograph in its entirety but many surprises are to be found within its walls, like the door above. Knock, knock.