In Conversation with Gian Paolo Buziol of Enoteca dai Tosi
Originally from the Veneto region, Gian Paolo Buziol fell for Matera in the early 2010s. Today he has successfully married his passion for wine with his entrepreneurial sense and nurtured a labour of love: the Enoteca dai Tosi, an upscale wine bar set in a historic cave. The project was originally launched as a design contest curated by PS, and five architecture firms participated with their contributions on how to convert the space into a modern gathering venue. Best referencing its Paleolithic roots, Belgian firm architecten de vylder vinck tailleu won, making this bar one of the must-sees of Matera for both its interior and its offerings in food and wine. Gian Paolo shares with us his suggestions for Basilicata from the perspective of a transplant, including the best vantage point for observing the city, and the most unassuming place to get an ice cream and a wonderful view.
Address: Via Bruno Buozzi, 12, Matera, 75100 (MT)
You mentioned you’re from Treviso originally. Could you tell us a little bit about how you got to Basilicata?
It started thanks to my mother, who’s from my hometown. She is 100% Venetian, as I am, but she fell in love with Basilicata a little before myself. She opened a small bed & breakfast in the province of Matera, near the seaside, but of course the headquarters for the restoration project had to be in the city. So the first time I went down for the restoration, about six-seven years ago, I fell in love with the place, literally walking through it.
How did you get started with an enoteca?
Because I love wine. It’s my passion, and I think there’s nothing as emotional and significant in terms of story and history as wine. Wine is not a simple recipe – wine is savoir-faire, it is the territory, the ground where the vine grows, the exposure, the weather, the year, the handler: you can actually taste it in the wine, you can feel when one has changed during the years. I think nothing else can recount the emotion and story that a simple glass of wine can. And so it’s a bit of a tandem between a story and the history of a city, together with the story and the history of a wine itself, that works very well together.
"I think nothing else can recount the emotion and story that a simple glass of wine can."
If friends from abroad were visiting Matera, what would you suggest for a morning café ritual?
For coffee, I would say Caffè Tripoli (Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 17, Matera). It’s a very historic shop in Matera, and it’s nice for coffee and a little croissant in the morning – a brioche, as we call it in Italian. There is also Ridola Caffè (Via Ridola, 19), and you can have different kinds of coffees from around the world: some more roasted, some more fruity, etc.
According to you, what dish captures the soul of Matera best?
La crapiata used to be the dish to celebrate the end of the harvest at the beginning of August: chickpeas, grains and beans, whatever. Everything was put in the same pot and stewed. It’s amazing. A soup, really. It gives a taste of what Matera used to be, because it was very rural.
… for an evening drink?
It’s kind of a hard topic in Matera, because there’s not as much [as in other cities]... A place called Birrificio 79 makes their own beer, and it is very good (Via delle Beccherie, 54). With Enoteca dai Tosi, however, we tried to bring our Venetian culture of the aperitivo to Matera because we believe in it. In our wine selection, we covered more than 24,000 kilometers around Italy: we met more than 300 producers, and we were finally able to have these 260 wines that represent the whole country, from our point of view. There is a taste from every single region.
Where would you go for a quiet, rejuvenating escapade?
Outside of Matera there is a little town on a hill called Craco that had to be evacuated in the 60s – you can visit it with your little yellow helmet, and they give you a tour of the abandoned city. Basilicata is not only Matera, it’s everything that is around, from the seaside to the inner side: there is almost no civilization from a modern point of view, so no big cities, almost no industry, as you can see, almost an untapped landscape, with amazing hills, mountains and badlands...
Is there a local tip you can share?
Visit Matera from the other side of the canyon, from the Belvedere viewing point. Matera looks beautiful from the outside, but in reality the houses only make up about 20% of the city. So you’re missing the other 80%, approximately, which is an intricate labyrinth of caves dug into the side of the canyon, into the mountain. Churches were also built in this way: dug out, with frescoes from the Byzantine time.
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