The unGuide started as an unMonastery Matera project: a response to one of the articulated persisting problems in Matera, namely that most visitors identify Matera with the Sassi, the cave city, which is now a UNESCO World heritage site. The rest of the various neighbourhoods of the city are not integrated in this marketable picture. Since the more recent parts of the city were built as a solution to the overcrowded, frankly primitive living conditions in the Sassi, their history is inextricably linked to the Sassi itself. Weaving them into the standard tourist routes by developing aspects of their individual histories seemed a straightforward solution to the task of integration. During the four months of running the unMon project, an ‘unGuided tour’ was developed, which connects Piccianello, the first neighbourhood to receive internal migrants, with the Sassi and the Baroque part of the city. The walking guide for unGuide Piccianello is available on Ramblr.
The major challenge is, of course, not answered by drawing colourful lines on a map. unGuide is based on the understanding that history is never objective, and that any place can be made enchanting by telling a fascinating story about it. By framing specific locations, and combining fiction and reality to fabricate a tale that captures the imagination, it can maybe start to focus attention on the place, on the people who live there, and open up ways to imagine a future.
unGuide became part of the Mapping the Commons project because of the approach it takes to solving problems in a community: instead of importing new tools, it is based on finding already existing assets and resources that can be channeled towards a solution. Integration is a long-term process, one short-term experiment will not change the minds of either inhabitants or visitors. However, the method of presenting culture as a playful, live and complex system rather than a static, picturesque, objectified, historical presentation can gradually stimulate an alternative perception of place, and with time, can result in an inclusive and holistic view of the city.