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The restoration of Fontana Cilivestri (Matera)

Submitted by on March 15, 2009 – 5:22 pmNo Comment

Author: IPOGEA


The water collection and distribution system of the Cilivestri Fountain is very complex: a roof cistern collects karstic and rain water and directs it to a canal built with calcarenite blocks (tufa) and entirely coated with coccio-pesto plaster (plaster made of crushed cotto bricks and mortar) right up to the fountain. Two medium sized external basins that once served as animal trough receive water from the fountain.


The stone well

During the first phases of inspection and work on the site, an abandoned well of exquisite workmanship, dug into the clay and dry walled with calcarenite and stone blocks, was found and presents a system of spring water supply, coming from the bottom through small loopholes.

With an average supply of 15 mm every 20 minutes, the water fills the entire well, when it has reached the mouth it stops filling in automatically.


Interior of the stone well

The project

Ipogea proposed restoring the entire area, not only the fountain, in order to rebalance the systems that had been invaded by the exceeding water, and transforming the abandoned and marginal area around contrada Cilivestri into a cultural and historical landscape.


The restoration of the fountain and the creation of the garden were carried out in two phases:


– the creation of water drainage channels and planting vegetation;


– restoration of the water distribution system and of the fountain.

The realization of coccio-pesto plaster

For the internal lining of the basins coccio-pesto plaster was used. This is a plaster dating back to Medieval times, used in the Sassi and in the cisterns as a protective and isolating layer. Preparing the plaster for the basins inner layer was particularly interesting because Italcementi products were mixed with crushed cotto-bricks



Realization of coccio-pesto plaster


Coccio-pesto plaster used for internal lining of the basins

The Water Knowledge Garden of the Cilivestri Fountain

At the end of the works, that lasted more or less a year, the Garden was inaugurated. The realization of this garden and the restoration of the fountain are strong signals, acting on the landscape with traditional knowledge and techniques manages to earn back the landscape’s original functionality and beauty. A thematic park where each rock and each element witness the knowledge of human traditional techniques that is able to transform anonymous places into landscapes.



View of Fontana Cilivestri and Water Knowledge Garden

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