by Mariangela Curci
If you pass by Matera you cannot leave before meeting Nando Irene. Lucanian from Sassi, of Salandrian origins, acting for years in numerous films and TV dramas, lately playing marshal “La Macchia” in the RAI fiction “Imma Tataranni” and creative director of the Matera Film Festival Nando is a convinced Lucanian. He decided to invest in his land, creating the first restaurant in the Sassi, the “Vicolo Cieco Salsamenteria”, when there was no one in the Sassi. And if you want to have a small talk and a glass of good wine, let us welcome you to his restaurant “Le Zite in Cucina”.
Describe the Lucanian.
Many Lucanians travel around the world, but no one sees them, they are not exhibitionists. A Lucanian, more than any other people, lives well in the shade. Where he arrives he makes his nest, he does not upset the neighborhood with threats and not even the “Municipiu” with claims. He is of few words. When he walks he prefers to take off his shoes, go barefoot. When he works he doesn’t speak, he doesn’t sing. It is not clear where he ever drew so much patience, so much endurance. Used to being satisfied with little, he will always marvel at the cheerfulness of his neighbors, the exuberance of his companions, the excitement of others. Lucanian is born and remains.
Is the text by Leonardo Sinisgalli you read always current?
Obviously not all of his words now reflect what Lucanity is and what a Lucanian is, because in any case times have changed. He certainly did not expect that Basilicata would become what it is now, a tourist destination, with its nerve center in Matera. Matera which in 1993 became a Unesco World Heritage Site, and in 2019 got the title of European Capital of Culture.
You have never abandoned Matera, why?
Matera is the city where I grew up and that I never abandoned, even if for a period of my life I lived in Rome for study reasons, to take up the profession of actor. But the moment I had the chance to go back, I returned, and now I live here, in this magnificent historical, cultural and magical place that is Matera.
What is your favorite place in Basilicata?
Obviously the Sassi of Matera is the place of my heart, it is the place where I grew up. My mother bought a house in the Sassi in 1989. We came from Salandra, a village in the Province of Matera, a beautiful village on the Matera hill. We moved here because her mother is from Matera, without any ambition for tourist speculation, she bought this little house in the Sassi where I grew up. There was no one, we were four families living there, in all the stones of Matera there was nothing. Think that I was the first to open a restaurant in the Sassi of Matera in 1999. Now the Sassi of Matera is a place of tourist attraction worldwide, tourists come here from all over the world. Now there are about 250 restaurants and accommodation facilities here, not counting hotels and bed & breakfasts. It has now become a tourist attraction with 100% services.
You shot a lot in Basilicata, are you excited about this?
As for my acting career, after 20 years of so many productions, fictions and films, I must say that the most important things I did I shot right here in Matera, which was the protagonist of the two leading fictions of RAI: “Sisters” under the direction of Cinzia TH Torrini and the latter “Imma Tataranni”, where I play a marshal from Matera. I must say that this thing excites me a lot. Some time ago we were shooting under the Madonna dell’Idris and I was the “protagonist” of a RAI series with two cameras focues on me, and I thought back to my adolescence spent in those places. I had a moment of pride, of satisfaction and I must say it was very touching. Being able to do my job, here in Basilicata, is one of the greatest satisfactions that I could ever imagine.
What would you recommend to a passing traveler?
I tell everyone “come to Basilicata, because Basilicata can offer you everything”. It can offer you mountains to ski, the plain, sustainable agriculture, the villages perched on the rock, the seaside, even the desert, the Calanchi di Pisticci, Aliano desert. It can offer you two seas, we have the Tyrrhenian Sea with the fantastic coast of Maratea and the white beach, with the Mediterranean scrub behind it, that of Metaponto, or of Policoro, the old Heraclea. I recommend everyone to come to spend moments of tranquility, relaxation in contact with nature, with us Lucanians who are still immature in the tourist reception, therefore, we even welcome you into our homes.
Come to Basilicata because visiting it is a truely unique experience.