You look like a movie star!

By Peter Brooker, May 2024.

Matera, Italy - First day

"It's hard to live in the old town," the hop on hop off guide said. "Four thousand people live in Matera, it was once was coined the shame of Italy, la vergogna nazionale due to the living standards. Farmers would share accommodation with their livestock.”

"It's not too dissimilar in London," I tell her. "You can't move on our bed some nights. Our cockapoo sleeps perpendicular across our legs, and our two cats sleep on our backs."

sand-coloured thick-whaled corduroy suit

Above: Pete donning corduroy suit, admiring local art

I'm wearing my sand-coloured thick-whaled corduroy suit, burgundy knitted tie and blue cornflower cotton shirt, all from Grey Flannel on Chiltern Street. "You look like a movie star," the tour guide says and laughs down the microphone. Luckily I'm recording her for the podcast, so I have that on tape.

That evening

Anastasia and I order two '007 Jump Drinks' at a bar that overlooks the ravine. 'What are the ingredients of a 007 Jump Drink?' I ask the waiter. 'It's just an Aperol Spritz, but stronger.' He replied with a shrug. (Speaking of No Time To Die, in Matera you need to hold on to your hats because the wind will find you out, and hold on to your old lady 'cos it's slippery. The polished cobbled paths and roadways required a coating of 36 thousand euros worth of Coca Cola to ensure the Aston Martins could get some purchase).

007 Jump Drinks

Above: Venetian Panama and turbo-charged Aperol Spritz

Just then, a cat with a rat swinging from its mouth, scampers between the legs of the diners causing screams and laughter all at once. Behind a window in full view of a courtyard of the diners that remained, the restaurateur finishes off the rat off with a broom. The rat convulses to a standstill and the man scoops its lifeless body in a pan. Bruno watches on, feeling somewhat cheated no doubt. The restaurateur appears some five minutes later, dries his hands on his Aran sweater and lights a cigarette. Everyone in Matera smokes like it's the 50s. "Bruno is his very much his own cat," he says nonchalantly. We decided to eat elsewhere. The best fish in all of Matera is served at Alle Fornaci. There, the young waiter cracks open a bottle of sparkling vino like he's just won Monza and floods two flutes before directing the rest over my Venetian Panama. He screws the bottle back in the ice bucket and leaves without so much as an apology.

Osterley safety razor, Matera, italy

Above: Pete's Wilde & Harte Osterley safety razor

Next day

The taxi driver has lived in Matera all his life and never been to Gravina Bridge. He asks the locals for directions and ignores the Sat Nav. Gravina Bridge, also known as Ponte Madonna della Stella, is an 18th century bridge and aqueduct, which gets its name from the mediaeval church that overlooks the gorge. The church houses a replica painting of the now-lost fresco Madonna.

Ponte Madonna della Stella

Above: Replica Madonna fresco, Matera, Italy

"The original Mary painting used to dispense miracles," said the happy young man at the ticket booth. On the other side of the gorge a team of workers fired up a leaf blower each and made a din that ricocheted around the ravine.

"At least Mary didn't have to suffer this shit," I told him.

Back in the old town, across from Palazzi Lanfranchi, a young girl poses for a photo on a beautiful red vesper that's parked, one assumes, for just these kind of opportunities. Her boyfriend snaps diligently from every conceivable angle and hands the phone to her. After a quick scroll, cupping the phone from the sun, she fixes her skirt and hands the phone back and orders him to take more. He obeys her without protest. This charade is repeated for at least 20 minutes.

Last day

Before we catch the flight back from Bari, we sneak two drinks in at the Monkey Bar. A photo of Daniel Craig in a wooden frame, with cracked glass, hangs on the wall. Another photo of him atop a ladder signing the ceiling whilst a bearded man holds his legs is tacked on the wall without a frame. I give the waiter five bucks, he hands me a magic marker and I sign my name next to his.

Pete and Anastasia, Matera

Above: Pete & Anastasia (2024), the 'No Time To Die' cast members and Daniel Craig graffiti at the Monkey Bar, Matera (2019)

Brooker, Peter Brooker will return.


About the author

Peter Brooker is the co-author of From Tailors With Love an Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films and is also Editor-in-Chief of From Tailors With Love, a blog, vlog and podcast dedicated to men’s costumes and cinematic style.

Peter Brooker - From Tailors With Love

Follow Pete on Instagram: @fromtailorswithlove (over 22k followers)

Follow Wilde & Harte on Instagram: @wildeandharte (2k followers)

Above: Pete with his Osterley Safety Razor.

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