Only a visionary dreamer as Jules Verne could imagine an adventure like this. “Around the World in Eighty Days” – published in 1873 by the French writer – in fact tells the incredible journey of London gentleman Phileas Fogg with his French butler Passepartout. Undertaken simply for a bet, for a prize of £ 20,000. At the time the idea was only the result of the fertile imagination of Jules Verne, but today is an absolute reality. So much so that more and more it often happen to say: “But how small the world is!” As it happened to me when, for example, in the crowd of tourists to the Parthenon of Athens passed by me Vincenzo, an acquaintance of mine from Matera, or when in Paris, in Notre Dame, I saw myself to be siad hi from Massimo, an old friend of the times of the high scchool.

In the Sassi with two danish ladies

But  I have not completed yet the travel around the world, indeed. But I hope to be able to see many places as possible as long as God wills it. Meanwhile, I’m happy to go dozens of times from one end to the other of the planet … but stationary, or rather, going up and down the stones! As happened last week. Started with a group of American students at the University of Pittsburgh, on a study trip in Italy and one day in Matera: arrived on Saturday evening and immediately catapulted into the exciting atmosphere of a crowded Piazza San Giovanni for the amazing concert of the Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio at Materadio and then spent the entire next morning in my company in a long tour of the Sasso Barisano, the Caveoso and the Historic Centre. In the afternoon I was the one to be catapulted across the world, with a very nice family group from New Zealand, two young couples with three children (the youngest, Joshua, just 1 year) who eventually wanted to share with me a drink, toasting together in a downtown cafe with a bottle of sparkling wine: “This is our way of thanking you.”

They will toast instead the intimacy of their hotel room or maybe to dinner at a restaurant after the afternoon walk with me in the Sassi, the pair of Scots in Matera celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary: congratulations, really original choice! Were enjoyning instead simply theri pension the thirty elderly English coming from Trani irresistibly attracted to this place although they did not know anything: “What does it mean Sassi?“. And the Ancients Rioni have been a sensational discovery for the family of Singapore (!), father, mother and 14 year old son who had chosen this place so far from home (not just physically) to spend their holidays.

Yet in the Far East now Matera is well known: Wednesday in fact I welcomed and accompanied one trough the Sassi, the fourth group of Taiwan in the past two months: they were boys, some young some other bigger, all very friendly and nice, now completely Western appearance, clothing and accessories, hair and makeup. A mid-week I was”back” to Europe, with two Dutch ladies in the morning (in the picture), a German couple in the afternoon and a family from London on Thursday evening, Friday instead of “I went” to Scandinavia, first in Denmark with ten beautiful ranged from Copenhagen in the morning, then in Norway in the afternoon with two middle-aged couples.

Saturday and Sunday then an incredible planetary coast to coast: first two couples of Australians, one of Melboune and Sidney, then a group of about twenty Americans, some with Lucan blood (a man whose grandfather was from Grassano and its wife with relatives in Stigliano), then an Australian couple from Perth, three ladies from New Zealand, an Italian-American family from New York and a Californian lady with her daughter yoga experienced (which now plans to organize a session in the caves of Gravina!) and a Canadian friend …

Mr. Phileas Fogg in the end could not finish his tour of the world and thus lost the bet. But I hope to win mine: let Matera tbe well known and loved by as many people as possible and from all over the world. At stake, however, there is no money. But only the pride of belonging to this great city.