It’s hard for me to judge what growing up in Matera was like, as I can’t imagine what it would be like growing up anywhere else. In fact, the idea of living anywhere else always played out like a real-life movie in my head, trying to fill it up with stories, trying to fully visualise how it would have been like — and usually ending up with aliens or superpowers. But I suppose that’s part of the answer. As an only child, and not having had that many friends, I spent the vast majority of my time either in school, or at home watching cartoons and movies. I also always felt like I was an outsider of sorts specifically because the simple life of a southern Italian felt too little and tight for me, and diving into fantastical fiction was the only place I could feel like myself. I had some friends, of course, and the ones I had usually tended to have at least some similar interests with me, but as I grew older I felt like others were starting to fade away from science-fiction and fantasy, whereas I was still stuck there, hungry for more. The greatest contrast, however, came in high school, where I was made fun of for still liking fantastical fiction “at my age”, but at the same time meeting my best friend Mario Pace (whom followed me through college and now works as a matte painter in Hollywood) who was the person who understood and shared the most interests, and with whom I could vent out the most. Matera is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it has most of my relatives and a huge chunk of my friends, I filled it up with countless memories and it will forever remain as the bedrock and foundation of who I am, for better or worse. If nothing else, it pushed me all the harder to find my true calling, and it tastes all the sweeter for it.