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Aliano, when a place meets the soul of the writer...

Wednesday 01 april 2020

A landscape of inspiration for one of the most significant and important figures of the fascist period: Carlo Levi.

Aliano, when a place meets the soul of the writer...

Born perched on one of the most beautiful and charming clay hills of Basilicata, more precisely between the cities of Matera and Potenza, the village of Aliano is certainly one of the most fascinating Italian villages. From its imposing position it dominates undisputed Val D'Agri, and the territory that characterizes it is rich in natural architectural beauties created by wind and rain that, with their erosive action, have shaped the clay rocks as if they were works of art. Since time immemorial, this ancient village has been an important reference point for the commercial exchanges of different civilizations, facilitated by the proximity of the rivers Sinni and Agri: although there are official documents, dating back to about 1000, of the existence of the village of Aliano, it can be seen with certainty that it was a living and active village already around 250 BC.


Its importance and knowledge was, however, certainly increased in recent history by the presence of one of the most significant and important figures of the Fascist period: the writer Carlo Levi. He, confined in exile in Lucania, more precisely in Aliano, because of his various activities against the fascist regime, will use this period to write several works that tell, in a perfect and detailed way, the nature of the region that is hosting him. There are several references to the country that can be found in his works, so precise and full of meaning that they can still be, even today, a reference, as if the years had not passed: the description of the places he told is so corresponding that, reading them, it is hard to believe that so much time has passed. In his works you can find the facets, the description of its inhabitants, the colours of the landscapes and even the smells of a land that, even today, can still give the same sensations.

Carlo Levi StatuaCarlo Levi Statue Photos of

Aliano is described as a small isolated village, with a junction of paths that, probably, today we would find asphalted: however, it continues to be absolutely mysterious and intriguing in the eyes of anyone who visits it. Built in stone, it has a small historical centre that winds its way along several streets, overlooked by small curious windows, until it reaches some set and austere staircases: the landscape described by Levi seems to evoke a fixed moment in time and epochs, so much so that it looks like a "lunar" landscape, as he describes it. "White clay, without trees or grass [...] was a succession of natural caves, of plains, as if the whole earth had died", as Levi describes part of the old town, but it is not only this that will strike him. In fact, it is the hilly landscape itself that captures, several times, his impressions and thoughts, "the infinite expanse of arid clays, undulating in the sun as far as the eye can see, as far away as they seemed to melt in the white sky".

Undoubtedly, Aliano was an important and fundamental source of inspiration for Carlo Levi, determining the creation of literary works that have reached the present day of fundamental importance: for example, among the most important writings we find, in fact, the creation of his masterpiece "Christ stopped at Eboli". Even today, in the village of Aliano, it is still possible to take part in visits to the places described in his novels, especially the streets, smells, buildings and squares described by him with great devotion and admiration. There are also many places dedicated to the memory of the writer, where documents, drawings and drafts dating back to the period of the writer's stay at Aliano are kept: among them, it is possible to visit the house he lived in, which was opened after a long restoration. In this house, described by him as "composed of three rooms, one in a row with the other" - "one entered the kitchen in the second room, with five small windows, which was my living room and my painting studio" - we can still admire the white walls described by him, the horizons as far as the eye can see, and find various references impressed in the minds of visitors and passionate readers of his works.


There are also two other important places of Aliano, to visit, in memory of Carlo Levi: the Pinacoteca, where it will be possible to see some original paintings of the author, together with several documents and photographs of his life, but also the Literary Park named after him and built in 1998, to honour his memory and gratitude for having made this country famous in the eyes of all Italy. Inside this "park" it will be possible to admire exhibitions set up with objects dedicated to him, but also to attend various outdoor shows and visit the film set where the film "Cristo di è fermato ad Eboli" dedicated to his work was made.

Pinacoteca Carlo Levi

Carlo Levi Art Gallery

Aliano can be considered a country rich in culture and art, a heritage of historical and artistic memory, but above all an important witness of an era and of an unforgettable character who has been able to make it more alive than ever.


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La Locanda con gli Occhi
Piazza Garibaldi 11 - 75010 , Aliano
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