Matera Città Narrata – Tales of a City

General information

Domain: World heritage towns (cultural landscape, memories and visions)
Title: Matera - Tales of a City
Launch: 2012
Country: Italy

Project focus

Matera Città Narrata is a digital media platform that presents the City of Matera, which is located in the Basilicata region in southern Italy. The Sassi di Matera, the ancient urban centre, is the most complete surviving rock-cut settlement in the Mediterranean region (inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993). The Matera - Tales of a City platform has been developed in the context of the city’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture 2019 title. The platform provides information for preparing a visit and to find one’s way in the Sassi and the surroundings. The most appealing content for online visitors probably are the contributions of local people who tell their stories about what it means to grow up and live in this unique settlement.



Matera Città Narrata has been developed in a cooperation of institutes of the National Research Council (co-ordinated by the Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage) and creative Web and multimedia businesses: Imagimotion, Net Agency / Netway, HSH Informatica e Cultura and Dinamo Italia. The Guiseppe Buonsanti Archive provided historical photographs and artists and residents of Matera stories and views about the Sassi.

Financing / funding

The project has been supported by the Regional Promotion Agency (APT Basilicata) and the Basilicata Regional Government / Department for Production Activities, in view of Matera’s candidacy as a European Capital of Culture 2019. In November 2013, the city was short-listed by the selection panel appointed to evaluate applications from Italian cities, along with five other cities.

Content & IPR / licensing

The online platform contains a large amount of content in different formats, for example, 84 videos, 67 sound tracks, 30 slide-shows and various other multimedia content, as well as itineraries‎ and excursion plans. There are also six interactive virtual reality panoramas for “flying” over the Matera area, based on 3D reconstructions of development stages of the area (e.g. Neolithic age, classical period, late 19th century).
The platform also strives to present the authentic, living heritage of Matera by presenting specific highlights, stories and visions of residents in their own words (videos of 2-3 minutes). Historical photographs on the website add much to the understanding of the context.
While free web and mobile access to a wealth of information is offered, the website states “all rights reserved”. It does not invite contributions by tourists or other people not involved in the project (e.g. tourists). For institutions, businesses and other residents (e.g. school classes) it offers a section where they can share own content.

Technologies used / innovative features

The content of Matera Città Narrata can be accessed in different ways and formats, according to the device and preference of the user. The multimedia and other advanced content can be explored on the website as well as downloaded by iPad users. Furthermore various applications for mobile devices with different operating systems (iOS, Android) are offered. For example, itineraries, excursion plans and multimedia content on particular places can be downloaded.
Free Wifi access has been implemented in the Sassi neighbourhood, so visitors with smartphones can access the website or another interactive application. But visitors without smartphones or connection can also call a mobile service that sends multimedia messages or allows listening to audio-guide content about sites and monuments in Matera (where a sign with an ID number has been placed).

Target users

Matera Città Narrata addresses domestic and international tourists; texts are provided in Italian, English and German. For children also a treasure hunt application for iPhone is offered. The overall goal of the media-rich platform is to introduce tourists to the cultural landscape, history and intangible heritage of Matera. Furthermore it invites tourists to stay and experience the city for longer than just a few hours, thereby potentially increasing the tourism income.

Lessons learned

Cooperation: Key to the realization of Matera Città Narrata has been the cooperation of organizations of different sectors. The organizations include centers of the National Research Council (one responsible for the overall concept and co-ordination), the municipality, regional agencies, heritage institutions, and media companies. Particularly important has been the involvement of people living in Matera, which contributes much to the spirit and outcomes of the project.

Content: Matera Città Narrata has achieved a good balance of research-based content (e.g. virtual reconstructions) and the human side – voices, knowledge and authentic experiences of scholars, artists and children.

Technologies used / innovative features: The platform offers several ways of accessing a variety of content according to what kind of device is used (PC, iPad, smartphone or an older mobile phone). The focus is not on the new technologies but on access and storytelling. Yet, the more capability the user device has the richer are the forms and interactivity of the content that is provided.

Sources and links