Among the many I welcome every day in Matera, this guest is the most special of all. And above all unexpected. A month ago, in fact, I get from a certain Melanie a request by email for an half a day guided tour in English for five people. Among them – she says – there is one particularly interested in history and archeology. Perfect – I answer – visiting Matera is like a long journey in the history of mankind from the Paleolithic to the present.
Comes the agreed day and after a few minutes of waiting at the meeting point, a super Mercedes van with tinted windows,stops in front of me, from which I see getting off first Melanie along with Giulia, an Italian girl. I’m a bit ‘confused, but the two of them, in a very discreet way, point me the other three people that are coming out from the van, two women with the typical Muslim dress and veil: they are the mother and grandmother of Khalifa, 10-year-old crown prince of Qatar! Melanie – I learn after during a break – is the German handyman secretary following for some months this small court around the world, instead Giulia is the Italian teacher hired especially for the holiday of the prince in our country: he is the person who has a passion for history and archeology! A little less his mom and grandmother that, with an authoritarian and arrogant behaviour, typical of the rich and spoiled people, order me to talk only with him. No problem, actually Khalifa immediately seems really interested and then he’s so lovely.
But after less than an hour the women claim to stop for a break … at the hotel! They ask me where is the nearest 5 stars: too far, then maybe a 4 star. They go and ask for a room. For 20 minutes! The girl at the reception remains dazed, but the director behind her understand the situation and without hesitation he has these very special guests accompanied to the room. Melanie, Julia and I wait outside and after 20 minutes, baby mother and grandmother are out. We continue our tour and the lady feels like to taste the local products, so we go into a typical shop of the Sassi, where in a quarter of an hour she spent 3-400 euro! More or less the same amount spent soon after in a workshop for the purchase of lots of cucù, the traditional terracotta whistles rapresenting a rooster; and then later in a toy store, where the little prince agerly and effortlessly grabs toys from the shelves and the window.
In short, Matera’s economy had a great boom that day … God save the prince Khalifa!
P.S. For reasons you can easily imagine I couldn’t take any picture of the prince, so I asked my friend and personal graphic designer Peppino Barberio to create a nice illustration for this post. Thanks Peppino!