While flood-hit Venice made headlines around the world, with the Italian government declaring a state of emergency in Venice, the Italian city of Matera was also devastated by flash floods but received far less media attention.
Currently European Capital of Culture and best known for its Sassi or cave dwellings, Matera was battered by heavy rain which sent torrents of mud rushing through its streets, causing widespread destruction to businesses and homes.
The Matera council has now approved a resolution requesting the recognition of a state of emergency and natural disaster “due to the exceptional atmospheric events of November”, with the Sassi districts flooded with mud and debris.
The mayor, Raffaello De Ruggieri, estimated the financial cost of the damage at €8 million and stressed that “the situation in the city has returned to normal: the wave of bad weather has however created difficulties that are hard to overcome with the ordinary budget of Matera city council”.
The declaration of €20 million in state funding for Venice, coupled with global media coverage and international funding campaigns, has led to much discussion on social media of a “north-south divide” even in relation to Italy’s natural disasters.
The debate has drawn in Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, who posted on Facebook: “Other cities and regions have been overwhelmed by bad weather. I think of Basilicata with Matera, the European capital of culture, I think of Puglia, Calabria, Sicily. And nobody talks about it”.