For 627 years, July 2nd has been the most important feast day for the city of Matera, Italy. Its traditional festival of the Patron Saint, Madonna della Bruna, attracts thousands of people of all ages every year, who follow the development of the different phases of the day, from dawn to late night.
The celebration starts in the city center, with the traditional parade of the shepherds, following a Mass in the open air; successively, it twists and turns through the Sassi, the ancient city of Matera.
The effigy of the Saint is carried by an endless procession of people through charges, jubilation, smoke bombs and explosions.
The celebration continues with a horse riding, which passes through the city center, decorated with sumptuous illuminations that come to life when the sun sets, giving a truly majestic view.
The main event of the celebration takes place in the evening, when a float carrying the Madonna is pulled through the whole city, until it is stormed and destroyed, following the tradition. In fact, every year the allegoric float is rebuilt by a master craftsman: according to the legend, the Madonna appeared to a farmer, asking him to give Her a ride on his wagon; when people found out Her identity, they rushed at the wagon to take a holy relic home.
This festivity allowed us to explore, investigate, walk through Matera and its inhabitants freely and without inhibitions. The resulting photography project is a mix of photo essay and street photography, which unites the willingness to tell a story to the search for the moment.
The light is particularly interesting in this area; the houses are short and clear, the shadows are fascinating, and there are suggestive plays of light and darkness. People are friendly and they don’t fear cameras or consider the issue of privacy.
Matera is historically one of the most important cities in the world. It is patrimony of Unesco, and it will be the European Capital of Culture in 2019. The media importance of this celebration made this city even more popular and full of events; the festivity of the 2nd of July represents the maximum cultural expression of its folk tradition.
Matera is also the city in which I grew up until my adulthood; therefore, it’s been a pleasure for me coordinating this photographic team to bring the beauty of this area to other people, and travel through places and events which I had treasured in my memories.
About Ugo Baldassarre
Ugo Baldassarre specializes in wedding photography, photo essay, portrait, and street photography. He lives and works in Parma, but grew up in Matera. His next photography and work projects include a desire to promote this area, its people, and its tradition.
About Michela Fauda
I was born in northern Italy, I’m in my thirties and I have been working as a freelance photographer and web designer since 2010. I am starting a travel photo essay project and I’m significantly changing my photo style lately; I’m learning to appreciate wide angles and I find street photography interesting. I love classic cars and I own a 1990 classic Mini.
About Massimo Pietralunga
Massimo Pietralunga is a street photographer from the province of Parma. He lives and works in Traversetolo, and he has made us all fall in love with his Leica Q.