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Claim a piece of Italian tradition

7th June 2013 Print

Take part in one of Italy’s most spectacular religious festivals, Matera’s 600 year old `Madonna della Bruna’, 2nd July 2013, and return home with a piece of the prized float (`Carro’) which can be found on the walls of many local homes in the town.

The town of Matera in Italy’s Basilicata region is the only place in the world where inhabitants can claim to be living in the same houses as their ancestors 9,000 years ago. The city, famous for the `Sassi di Materna’, caverns dug into the calcareous rock, is also renowned for its 600 year old festival `Madonna della Bruna’, dating back to 1380, when an effigy of the patron saint is paraded through the heavily decorated streets of Matera accompanied and protected by an entourage of armoured knights with torches, representing the Armigeri of Count Tramontano, one of the feudal lords of Matera.

The event culminates in the destruction of the `Carro’, the papier mache float which carries the Madonna through the town. The art of Carro making is an artisan tradition that has been practised for centuries and the float takes a full year to produce as it is adorned with rich and elaborate imagery from the bible. Souvenir pieces of the Carro are prized and tourists who are quick off their feet could take home a trophy piece of this ancient tradition.

Where to stay:-

Just 9km from Matera is a magnificent restored country house, Masseria Mimosa Gialla, available to rent for a week from 29th June through Europe’s leading luxury villa specialist, CV Travel (020 7401 1039, The house sleeps 6 guests and is built in magnificent fortified style, with a central courtyard and pool. A week's stay now costs £2680 (was £2980) for six sharing, saving £300.

For more information, visit