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Fifty years after Italy's Matera was a national embarrassment because of its extreme poverty, the city is rescuing its dignity, Baroque palaces and cave churches to become a European capital of culture.Now, the city in the Basilicata region on the instep of Italy's boot, is hoping to draw thousands of visitors for cultural and heritage events, many inside the same caves, now renovated.Visitors pay 19 euros (around $22) to become "temporary citizens" of Matera, around 400 kilometers south of Rome, for a year.Ariane Bieou, a Frenchwoman who helped Marseille put some of its more gangsterish stereotypes behind it when it was cultural capital in 2013, admits her job in Matera will be "a challenge".Lower Matera, where you can visit an incredible 150 rock churches, is a hive of activity, with workers climbing up and down the steps, busy turning ancient buildings and caves into boutique hotels.
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