Località Murgecchia, 75100 Matera MT.
From Matera take SS 7 towards Taranto. Brown signs for Chiese Rupestre.
All year daily 9-19 with reservation only.
We guess they tell you when you book.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Grotta di Chitaridd, Località Murgecchia, 75100 Matera MT, Tel: +39-320-423-1260, Tel: +39-320-423-1360. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1862||Eustachio Chita born in Matera.|
|26-APR-1896||Eustachio Chita, nickname Chitarridd, killed in this cave by an axe in his head.|
|1900||body taken to the Museum of Criminal Anthropology in Turin for scientific examination.|
Grotta di Chitaridd or Grotta del Brigante (The Brigant's Cave) is located on the eastern side of the Gravina gorge, opposite the city Matera. It is reached from the SS 7 from Matera towards Taranto. Then it's a little tricky to find the right turnoff. From the Roundabout it's 500 m, turn right then left and follow the parallel road. After 400 m there is a small parking lot, from here its 200 m walk.
Eustachio Chita was born 1862 into a family of landowning peasants in Matera. His childhood was definitely not happy, with a violent and aggressive father and an absent mother. He suffered violence and abuse, which formed his character negatively. He left his family when he was very young and started wandering between Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria. He had occasional jobs as a farmer, shepherd and worker, but as he was antisocial and violent, he frequently moved on. Finally, he returned to Matera, and lived rather hidden in this cave opposite the city across the Gravina di Matera. He lived from robbing people, and some hits too, but he was never caught. There were numerous accusations of various murders and other criminal offences, and he was persecuted by the police, but they were never able to prove that he had committed a crime. Finally, in 1896, three men from Matera, his family and acquaintances, caught him in his cave and killed him with an ax to the head.
This cave is called Grotta del Brigante, and as his nickname was Chitarridd, the cave is also called Grotta di Chitaridd. It is a small entrance leading into a rather spacious chamber, which has a fireplace on one side and a sort of bed dug into the wall on the opposite side. And there is a small opening towards the Gravina. Some think this was an escape route.
But the story is not over, In March 1900, four years after his death, Cesare Lombroso, an expert in physiognomy, asked to be allowed to take his body to the Museum of Criminal Anthropology in Turin. At that time, there was a scientific theory that somatic features and anomalies were typical imprints of criminal personalities. In other words, a statistical analysis of the form of one's head would give a percentage how likely this person would commit a murder. Such theories are easily extended to derive the morals of a person from its nationality or ethnicity, and actually such theories were widely used by Nazis to explain their believes. Such ideas are today frowned upon. However, this event caused the relocation of the body, which was actually sent to Turin. What happened with the body is unknown, all documentation is lost.
What remains is doubt. Independent of the form of his head, did he actually commit all those crimes? Did he just revel in the popularity or fame, and was then killed as a scapegoat by the actual perpetrators? We will never know. The Eustachio Chita case remains unsolved.
The site is gated, so it is necessary to make an appointment for the visit. It seems the local farmer who owns the site sells his products and offers tours online under the name La Grotta del Brigante. But the website is quite new and not fully functional, so it's probably better to send an email. As far as we could see they sell honey and other products of the farm too.