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Montescaglioso, Jewel of Italy

Montescaglioso is one of the principal centers in the Province of Matera based on population, economic importance and historical and environmental heritage. The first activity here is documented beginning with the Bronze Age, while the first inhabited center was founded in the 9th-8th Centuries A.D., evidence of which is visible at Porta Schiavoni.MontescagliosoThe Normans dominated southern Italy from the mid-11th Century (including Montescaglioso). The first feudal lord here was Robert, descendant of the famous Guiscard, progenitor of the Hauteville Family. The Norman presence favored urban development and population increase for Montescaglioso, already a settlement for a large Benedictine monastic community: the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo marked the city’s history up until the 1800s. Other monastic communities would settle here between the 15th and 17th Centuries: the Augustinians, the Benedictine nuns of the Holy Conception, and the Capuchins. During this phase the city became the feudal property of the Genoese family, the Grillo-Cattaneos, who resided inside Montescaglioso’s Medieval castle. Transformed into a Palazzo, it later became an academic center and an important spot for writers and artists. Beginning with the 12th Century, the most well-off families in the city constructed their abode along the most important boulevard (today it is Corso Repubblica, where the most predominant activities are concentrated: commerce, artisanry, Government, and the most important churches and monasteries). 

At the same time, the inhabited areas began to extend outside the fortified center to the area surrounding Porta Maggiore and Piazza Roma, where stands the Church of Saint Roch of Montpelier (proclaimed Patron Saint of the city in 1684). Then, 19th-Century Italian Unification led to a mass migration to the Americas, and to the phenomenon of the Brigandage and rebellion of the south against the new Italian State. After the Second World War, the Agrarian Reform rearranged agricultural property plots, favoring the development of small and medium peasant property holdings, and thus forming a foundation for significant economic development in the years ahead.