The Italian Mint IPZS (Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca Dello Stato) continues their series of sterling silver coins peeking at the ancient and medieval culture of Italy. Called Italia delle Arte (Art of Italy), the series debuted in 2010 and has seen two coins are released annually; an 18g €5 coin and a 22g €10 one. We’re looking at the bigger of the two coins here and it shines a spotlight on a fascinating and often overlooked part of Italy.
One of the first places to be settled in Italy and dating back to around 7,000 BC, Sassi di Matera are two districts of the city of Matera that are replete with ancient cave dwellings. Carved into the sedimentary rock, the houses are actually dug into the rockface itself, often having roads running above them. From a prehistoric troglodyte settlement to today, Matera is the only place on earth where people still live in the same houses as their 9,000 year old ancestors.
The coin is very much in keeping with this mints output. The reverse, like the previous coin, was designed by Maria Angela Cassol and features a close-up scene of the architecture in Matera. It’s attractive, although would benefit greatly from a higher level of relief to the strike. The obverse carries the bulk of the inscriptions, although none of them infringe on the design of the coin – a great touch. A fragment from a fresco in the rock-church of Santa Lucia alle Malve is the focus here and looks great.
This has always been an attractive series of coins with a very cool theme, so it’s good to see another successful addition. The mintage is set at 4,000 pieces and the coin comes with a certificate of authenticity. Available now for €60.00. Previous coins we’ve covered include Recanati and Sardegna, Perugia, Fenis Castle and Selinunte.