Around 1000 a.C. the church of San Pietro Barisano was excavated in a rocky ridge, in the valley of the Sasso “Barisan”. In 1467, Pope Paul II gave the right of patronage of the church and its assets to Matthew Ciminelli: St. Peter Barisano became an “independent church” provided of the Chapter Ciminelli for the administration and it acquired the title of “Abbot”. The churches were a typical figure of Southern Italy : they used to have the task of managing substantial real estate assets and production, were provided with a board of directors ( Chapter ) appointed by noble families (not by Curia) with rights of patronage, and the head of the chapter was placed the figure of the Abbot . It was a sort of joint-stock company : the rents were in fact divided in proportion to the participants. The family Ciminelli has managed the church for over two centuries with many Abbots, followed by the noble family Venusio .
In 1755 the appointment of the Abbot and the management of the church passed to the higher noble family in the city of Matera: the counts Gattini. These implemented a major renovation of the church , reconstructing the entire face , placing the elegant rose window and giving it a bell tower. Next to the church and in communication with this , the Palace of the Abbots was built by the counts Gattini with lavish environments for the Abbot of the Chapter and practical service areas (kitchens , stables , cisterns , tanks).
In 1867 the law n.3848 of the young Italian Government decreed the abolition of the accommodated churches and the confiscation of their assets. The church of St. Peter Barisan is stripped of 48 homes, 5 mills, 27 plots, 13 vineyards, 2 caves for the production of honey and wax, and the Palace of the Abbots. Here lived the last Abbot : Rev. Nicola Scivizzero . The Palace , together with all the goods of the church , was auctioned by the State. The Abbot Don Scivizzero attended the Auction and managed to win it : he bought at auction the same building where he lived.
Of course, as abbot , he could not have children, so the whole structure was inherited by his sister Grazia Scivizzero . It was the year 1883. Since then, generation by generation, the Palace has been handed down as a legacy to the current owners . But his life hadn’t been not always easy. At every transfer of property, the Palace was divided among the heirs, so in the twentieth century appeared to be inhabited by 10 families, one for each room of the hotel, including the rooms initially born as deposits , tanks and cellars. It was the time of the poorest old history of Matera, when the peasants used to live in the Sassi, and were forced to march for hours to get to the fields, owned by large landowners , and this caused a high population density and often cohabitation with the mule, also useful for the trips to the fields.
In 1952 the ten families who lived there were easily marked with nicknames, as it was common at that time: Cudd’ngsset , Quaparraun , Bamm’n , Senza Nidd , Ui Momm , Martnas , Zannaun , Maiustr, Iongiacit , Czzlaun. In that year, the Parliament issued the law 619, decreeing the coercive evacuation of the Sassi . The ten families who lived in the palace , like all the others who lived in the Sassi , had to leave their houses. All the people that used to live in the Sassi, they could have a new popular house for free if they gave up the property to the State, otherwise they had to buy a new house with their money if they wanted to keep the property of the house in the Sassi. The 80% of the inhabitants of the Sassi decided to give up the property to the State even because they could not afford the purchase of a new house. In the ex Palace of the abbots, among the ten families , only one did not accept a popular house and kept the property: the family Cudd’ngsset .
For 60 years, the palace has been abandoned , such as all the Sassi area. It had been partially occupied by squatters , making it stores and warehouses . Furniture and furnishings are subject to theft and two environments suffered a devastating fire in 1983 , when a group of young people used them as a meeting place. Finally, with the special law for the Sassi 771 of 1986, it decreed the national significance of the Sassi and promotes the repopulation of the districts . Nowadays the State may grant the state property at no charge to those who restructures.
In 2007, Vita Maria Andrulli , grandson of Cudd ‘ ngsset family requested the State the permission to begin the work of restoration and the granting of state property neighbors, and the reconstruction of the Palace took place. The entire main floor , consisting of six rooms , is granted for 35 years in exchange for the restoration, which began in 2011. During the summer of 2013, the building went back to its former glory . The careful restoration has left unchanged the signs of aging, and has returned many times decorated , the original floor tiles and health environments excavated. The structure now consists of five spacious suites and reception desk – Breakfast Room, opened to the public in the month of August 2013, ready to take on new chapters in its history.