Oltre L’Arte is a cooperative founded in July 2008 as part of the Policoro Project promoted by the CEI (Italian Episcopalian Community). It started with a group of young adults who wanted to create a job opportunity for themselves and for others in their hometown by investing in their own creativity and skills.

The name Oltre L’Arte which means “beyond art” in Italian, underscores the principle and fundamental vocation of the cooperative:
To advance Matera’s religious historical artistic heritage, reopening to the public its ancient cave churches and monasteries which had remained abandoned for centuries, to give back to Matera its intrinsic spiritual significance (Matera’s prehistoric caves had been inhabited by monks on spiritual retreats) and lastly, to help our visitors appreciate the city’s rich intangible heritage of spirituality, emotions, beliefs, and traditions.

Going “Beyond Art” means to go beyond the material and focus on people and relations. That’s why our main objective is to welcome all of our guests and visitors in a warm, fraternal way and help them take back from Matera something that goes beyond art.

One of the main aims promoted by the Cooperative Society Oltrelarte, is being a reference point for the advertising of activities of social and cultural interest. Such activities would promote the peculiarities of a unique historic and artistic heritage, the Sassi of Matera, through itineraries revealing the deep sense of religiousness pervading the history of this town.

The Cooperativa Oltre l’Arte pays great attention to the realization of social and religious tourism. This way, the universal meaning of the Sassi of Matera can be enjoyed, socialized, known, lived, narrated to an audience of tourists which also includes those weaker social categories sometimes kept from enjoying the historical and natural beauties of a country.

For this reason, Oltre l’Arte created Community Laboratories (Laboratori di Comunità), specifically addressed to young students, who are offered the chance to have a sensory experience while knowing the locations of the rupestrian civilization in Matera.

In particular, the rupestrian church of San Pietro Barisano, thanks to its privileged location, pays specific attention to disabilities: the multimedia museum offers individuals with disabilities the chance to know the rupestrian churches

Visiting the path of the Rupestri Churches of the Sassi di Matera, Unesco world heritage, means immersing yourself along a thousand-year journey of history, art, civilization and faith.

The traces, so well preserved, of a profound religiosity that has inhabited these places over the centuries, offer tourists not only an extraordinary cultural experience, but also the opportunity to immerse themselves in an atmosphere of profound recollection, of prayer, of suspended ecstasy in time and space.

Churches and environment, piety and ecosystem, form a salient originality that in Matera is worthy of being welcomed, cultivated, recovered, promoted primarily for residents but also for tourists visitors, in the sign of their specific structure and message.

We will be happy to accompany you in these “Paths of Art and Faith” so unique and original, to appreciate the elements that inspired the artistic creation present in the Rupestrian Churches, expression of the happy relationship spirituality-nature, resolved in an exciting harmony.

If requested, we will make available to groups of tourists the presence of a priest, for a guided meditation in the places of rock civilization.

The tour itineraries proposed by Oltre l’Arte are entrusted to tourist guides specialized in cultural heritage, authorized by the Province of Matera and in possession of the Degree obtained at the Institute of Religious Sciences of Matera.

The tour itineraries have a duration of about 3 hours.

If necessary, we will be happy to plan visits that will be organized even over several days, according to a meditation scheme similar to a real spiritual retreat.

Community tourism is based on different touristic activities that satisfy the common need of social relations, involving the underprivileged categories of a community. Oltre l’Arte is committed to this type of tourisim, to give people the chance to enrich their culture and to promote and advertise the assets of the area.

In particular, Oltre l’Arte created a “Multimedia Museum” in the church San Pietro Barisano. This museum allows individuals with disabilities to know the beauties of the Sassi di Matera, through multimedia itineraries which show the characteristics of places otherwise inaccessible to them. Some sites, in fact, have architectural barriers that cannot be modified due to the morphological features of the Sassi.

The Multimedia Museum was created because the beauty belongs to everyone and no one should be prevented from enjoying it. Thanks to technology, individuals with disabilities will be able to discover our rupestrian churches: Madonna de Idris, San Giovanni in Monterrone, Santa Lucia alle Malve, San Pietro Barisano.

A welcoming city like Matera cannot ignore the importance of diversity. A high-quality social tourism represents an essential feature for a town elected European Capital of Culture 2019. In this sense, our Cooperative wanted to give its own contribution investing its own resources for the preparation of the Multimedia Museum.

On the occasion of the Museum opening, in July 2013, Oltre l’Arte organized a national conference about the topic “Sassi and Senses: knowing Matera beyond the barriers”. Important personalities took part to the convention, such as the President of the FISH (Federazione Italiana Superamento dell’Handicap) and the president of Unitalsi, an association involved in the services offered to people with disabilities.