The sun had already set behind the olive tree fields by the time I arrived in Matera. Mael waited for me in a cold, strong, crispy wind to guide me from the bus station to the house that I’ll be calling home for the next year. He talked to me in some kind of English-Italian mix with a super strong French accent, but I didn’t understand much, except that he would prefer the top bunk. Fast forward couple of weeks later, we understand each other perfectly in all the languages, we are room mates, cooking and drinking mates, gym mates or just mates. Appunto!
The next sunrise brought a great, healthy, mediterranean meal and a trip plan to Parco della Murgia. I met Zoe, Kosiso, Pia, Ailen, Jolie, Mathieu, Sarah, Joseph and Naomi. After a classic italian coffee stop and a classic italian 5 minutes delay, perfect for a group photo, we jumped on the bus, full of energy, enthusiasm and great vibes.
The sight over the valley and the Sassi was stunning, breath taking. All the laughs and rumour of the 15 minutes ride suddenly petrified in a deep silence broke by a couple of wows. Slowly we spread over the edge and started to take the first photos out of a lot more to come.
The legend of Mathieu always singing was real. With his voice on the background and the excitement in the air we started to move down, some on the path, some straight down the rocks. We stopped in the caves following the road, taking photos and imagining living there having no idea that once those were churches. Between the halts, lots of jokes, small talk on interests, passions and interculturality topics. Clear, usual and obvious for one was mysterious, crazy and never heard for the other. Great fun emerged out of this.
We arrived at the bottom of the valley where we had to cross a bridge that was now closed. The naughty child in every of us came out and decided we should jump over the fence. More or less nervous, we crossed the river and followed what we thought it was the right path and was obviously not. In a silly trailblazing attempt I crossed the river barefoot in order to get another perspective only to find out that innocent Pia together with the wacky tandem Mael and Kosiso discovered the right track. Crossing twice a river with sloppy rocks and a frosty, mid February water was anything but not pleasant. The wide, contagious smile of Ailen backed up by her scarf warmed me up and we continued our road.
At the end of the journey, another tall barricade was waiting for us only to make us appreciate more the reward behind it. We were right in the middle of the Sassi, the old town.
Like in a good book, we started from new town of Matera and instead of taking the easy, 5 minutes road to the Sassi, we spent half a day going all around that way only to look at the big picture before revealing and living the details.
I was in one of the oldest human settlements in Italy, wearing lots of years and stories on it’s shoulders, and while drinking a beer and eating il classico panino al prosciutto, I looked back to this day, the experience I had, the friends I gained and I realised that it really is about the journey and not the destination.
Serban Turda, 28 February 2019