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The Crypt of Original Sin

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Not far from the Appian way, through the quiet path Pietrapenta, vineyards and wheat fields, you arrive at the crypt, a natural cave overlooking the"Gravina di Picciano." This exceptional rupestrian oratory represents one of the oldest examples of the rupestrian art of Southern Italy. Its extraordinary cycle of frescoes, made five hundred years before Giotto, shows the typical features of Benedictine beneventan art and is stylistically summarized by the cultural climate of Lombard (VIII and IX centuries).


The humble fresco painter, remembered as thePainter of Flowers of Matera”, illustrated on the back wall the biblical account of the early chapters of Genesis: God the Father Creator, the Light, the Darkness, the creation of Adam, the birth of Eve, the Original Sin and temptation. Under the panel's creation, in the three apse basins, great patriarchs are depicted: the Apostles (Peter, Andrew and John), the archangels (Michael, Gabriel and Raphael) and the veneration of the Virgin Queen by two saints.


The precious cycle of frescoes, for years attacked by mosses, lichens and cyan bacteria, was recovered by a Zètema Foundation projectin consultation with the Central Institute of Restoration and the participation of committed experts. The restoration was made possible thanks to fundings from the Cariplo Foundation of Milan, CARISBO of Bologna and Cassa di Risparmio di Piacenza e Vigevano under the project “Sviluppo Sud” - "Development of the South" by ACRI (Association of Italian Savings Banks) which is a model of scientific reference, a code of practice for future work on the world rupestrian heritage.




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