The southern Italian city of Matera in Basilicata has beaten a group of other Italian cities to win the award of European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Matera, known as the “City of Stone” for its UNESCO-listed historical center, won the prestigious title over Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia/Assisi, Ravenna and Siena.
The European Capitals of Culture initiative was developed in 1985 and has been awarded to more than 50 cities across the European Union as host to cultural activities for a calendar year. It celebrates the diversity of Europe and pushes cities to extend their cultural development, and aims to regenerate cities and raise the profile of lesser-known cities.
The title is a huge honor for Materna, which hopes that the title will boost its tourist industry.
“Matera’s designation is a sign of the civilisation and redemption that reaches Europe from Matera and the South,” said Salvadore Adduce, Mayor of Matera.
Matera’s win has been particularly disappointing for Siena, which until last month was a favorite for the nomination. Florence hosted the event in 1986, the year after it was inaugurated in Athens.