Matera in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, once made famous by Carlo Levis book "Christ stopped at Eboli", is fast becoming a celebrity-city thanks to Mel Gibsons film "The Passion". Fans of "The Passion" are now booking tours of Matera where they will be able to follow in the footsteps of the stars who filmed on location in the ancient Sassi.
According to an article in Italys main daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, which described the film as the "bloodiest in the history of the cinema", tours can now be booked for 385 euros for two nights in a small hotel in the Sassi or 600 euros for a four-star hotel where the film crews stayed. A room in the hotel that housed Gibson only costs 410 euros because he opted for a three-star lodging, according to the article,
Most of "The Passion" tourists come from the United States and Australia but British enthusiasts are also soon expected to make for this town that they had never heard of before now that the film is on release in the United Kingdom.
The Sassi, perched on the side of steep gorge in Matera, was once such a fetid and unsanitary part of the town that it had to be cleared in the early 1950s and its inhabitants relocated in other neighbourhoods. Much of the housing and many of the churches in the picturesque streets were then restored, and in 1993 the Sassi was designated a world heritage site by Unesco.