Readers of my previous blogs will recall that in 2017, a Connectitalia-NZ tour visited Aliano, a remote town in Basilicata, where Carlo Levi, a political activist from prosperous Turin, was exiled for two years by the Fascist Government in the 1930’s. This year, we returned to Aliano and were delighted to secure a private viewing of Carlo Levi’s house and his paintings in the little art gallery in the town. We subsequently visited the Palazzo Lanfranchi Art Gallery in Matera to view the stunning mural he created in 1961, together with some of his other paintings.
It is difficult to overstate the impact this young doctor and political dissident had on the lives of the residents of Aliano and in fact on the whole of Southern Italy. Levi’s paintings show the depth of his understanding of the desperate plight of the poor and sick. Levi’s book “Christ Stopped at Eboli” based on his time in Aliano (Gagliano in the book) eventually shamed the Italian Government into doing more for this forgotten area of the country. Now and not before time, Basilicata is opening up to tourism as people become aware of what this magnificent region has to offer. Matera is the European Capital of Culture for 2019 and it is a must-see destination for those interested in visiting the third oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
Levi clearly won the hearts and minds of the local people, who revere him to this day. We were pleased to visit his unpretentious resting place in a peaceful spot in the local cemetery in Aliano. He wanted to be buried here and after his death his body was transported here in accordance with his wishes.