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In a botched stunt, a parkour group damages a historic Italian building.

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One of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, Matera, in southern Italy, was the scene of a regrettable event lately involving a parkour group from London. Matera, which is recognized for its man-made structures situated on hills and its historic cave homes, which are part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site designation, has long drawn tourists and filmmakers. Its ancient charm is shown in scenes from Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman.” But the tranquil and historic environment of the city has been clouded by this recent incident.

A parkour team called Team Phat posted a video of themselves pulling off a maneuver that caused damage to a historic Matera structure. In order to do the trick, one of the traceurs—parkour practitioners—had to catapult himself to another rooftop using a stone that protruded from the building. Sadly, the traceur suffered self-inflicted injuries when he fell to the ground after the stone broke off. Significant criticism has been directed against the occurrence, which has reignited conversations about how human activity affects old cities and monuments.

Team Phat has posted a 23-minute film in which the members are shown exploring Matera’s architectural marvels. A team member once gives another traceur, Devon McIntosh, advice on the stability of a stone they intended to utilize for their trick. McIntosh and two other team members successfully accomplish the leap once, despite doubts about the stone’s integrity. But on McIntosh’s second try, the stone gave way, causing him to tumble. As shown in the video, McIntosh suffered injuries to his elbow, thigh, and ankle.

The video received a lot of backlash once it was posted on Instagram, where it has received 2.4 million views. The disregard for Matera’s ancient architecture infuriated a number of people. “Even though the spots are crazy, Matera should not be used as a parkour park,” observed one Italian parkour aficionado. That stone may have existed older than the discovery of America. A other commentator expressed regret about the disdain shown for the historical value of the structure and the pride of its original builders.

A Team Phat member comments on their ban from Venice in the Matera video, saying, “We’ve come to the closest thing to it.” This is not the first time the group has faced backlash for their stunts. Previously, the group performed a risky jump in Venice, which prompted the mayor of the city to call the stunt performer a “idiot” and threaten to arrest him. The group received a fine and a ban from Venice as a result of the incident.

The harm done by the parkour act in Matera is a subset of a larger problem including excessive tourism and careless conduct in historically significant areas. Cities all across the world are struggling to deal with how tourism is affecting their cultural heritage. Numerous occurrences in Italy alone serve as a reminder of this expanding issue. A 150-year-old monument was overturned by German visitors last year as they were trying to snap a picture in a property in northern Italy. A Saudi tourist seriously damaged Rome’s famous Spanish Steps in 2022 when he drove a Maserati down them. A few weeks later, an electric scooter that needed $27,000 in repairs was thrown down the same steps by an American visitor.

Italy is hardly the only country where historic sites are mishandled. A man was prosecuted in Singapore in 2021 for wakeboarding at a war memorial, illustrative of a widespread trend of disregard and carelessness. Cities have responded to these activities by enacting more stringent policies to safeguard their cultural assets. To stop these kinds of activities, several places have imposed fines, visitation bans, and other restrictions.

The sad event that occurred in Matera is a clear reminder of the need of raising public knowledge of and care for historic places. Although people are drawn to these places by the promise of adventure and social media stardom, cultural heritage preservation should come first. Given its lengthy history and UNESCO designation, Matera is a city that ought to be shielded from such careless behavior. It is critical that both tourists and residents promote responsible tourism and the preservation of our planet’s historical assets as travel becomes more widely available.

The Matera parkour stunt by Team Phat emphasizes how important it is to treat ancient places with respect and thoughtfulness. It is critical to promote a culture of preservation and respect for the past as the globe struggles with the effects of excessive tourism and careless behavior. We can only guarantee that cities like Matera are loved and protected for future generations by making such efforts.

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