Monday, December 17, 2007


From time to time I happen to read the newspapers or watch the television news. I am struck by the news of violence on a regular base. The world is only violence. It gives the impression you should lock yourself inside your house and never come out, because it seems the violence is at your front door. However, I stop and think how maturity and convictions are stronger then feelings.
I’ve lived in a community where violence was always present: poverty, crime etc.Our small hometown had a territorial limit, people and communication. 4000 souls confined to the secluded mountains. The few contacts were with our neighboring hometowns, Scido, Cosoleto, Santa Giorgia and Lubrichi. Gioia Tauro, Palmi and Reggio Calabria were far and very important cities. Like in every community you encounter the defects and virtues, from miniature, some humanity. Therefore the few disturbing news were limited to a few thousand people and fewer events.For months these last ones were materialistic discussions, research and reflections, in anticipation they would not diminish completely.Another important element was the control of territory. Activities carried out by all the population. Parents controlled the household, whereby relatives and others controlled the remaining territory.
The security of the children and all the others was delegated to the hometown. This activity was carried out in an impeccable way. Naturally it wasn’t all sparkling gold, deviance existed, but it represented a warning to us all, what was forbidden. The house and road was our physical and spiritual arena. The inflexible rules were to respect the property of others and the municipality.
Children and teenagers all attempt to break the rules, but it was known for every cause was a punishment, an inner and civil equilibrium life. Facing the church square of Paracorio was a small garden, blooming with roses and azaleas. There, nobody observed us teenagers and we never thought of exceeding the boundaries’ established by the community. They were there and respected. The permanent guards were the many elderly seated on the garden benches, observing what was forbidden. This analysis makes me understand many things. Where there is mankind, violence has always existed. At one time news of violence was where you lived or in the surrounding hometowns. You metabolized the acquired news because it was carried out during a slow period. The people lived in a traumatic phenomenon and isolated. Serious fact but innate
within a mature humanity. Enemies were not seen everywhere, you emerged from shock and life continued. A reactive and social agreement existed that gave strength and certainty. Now we delegate our daily living to a great monster that directs us, raises our children, informs and cures us: the television. Long ago a typical expression was said about the television “it was absolute truth”, and in the last few years’ sort of psychological dictatorship. Our existence of a dominant strength has been delegated to an instrument, the television.Every talk show scares us with a good twist, afterwards reassures us with the best psychologist and his experience, or the great criminologist or the great strategist of war. They provide us with countless news on violence happening thousand of kilometers away but making it seem it’s occurring beside our house. By chance I watch stories of poor fleeting psychos, but strangely common people, but never someone at the top. Always scrutinizing and within the people’s social misery but never the influential people, it’s a strange combination.People are locking themselves between their domestic walls because of fear due to trash programs and television news transmitted daily. No social net and often isolated. To others the strongest voice is the television. It cannot be culture if there is no dialogue. Culture is not learned through lessons alone, but determined through your contacts, experience and respect of the rules.Our roads are always emptier; our children more insecure and unfortunately no longer trained by us. Perhaps it is time to retrieve the territory, not delegate our security to others, but forward the experiences transmitted for centuries by our community.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Culture of Survival

In a world where “winners” are the masters of our destiny and our lives, similarly are the "losers".

I left Delianuova twenty years ago, not with a cardboard suitcase but with cultural baggage and the intention of never looking back.I saw my defeat in that town. For me, that place and those people were the ugliness of my life. Every memory, every place and every gesture were my defeat. Twenty years lost, this is the way one feels when they have to leave, leaving everything behind. I arrived in Pavia as a young, enthusiastic university student. A wonderful place made up of young people and culture.
A world I had always wished for, where you could discuss anything you wanted without fears. I thought “this is my world.”
I was young, full of life and prospects.Graciously they called me the shepherd. Where did you leave your sheep? Life is difficult for the shepherds in Aspromonte”.
An enlightened and heterogeneous world full of culture and history.
Nevertheless the burdens of the Aspromonte never leave, not even in a world diverse from mine, where intelligence is prince. I have learned it is not like this, I made the mistake of being born. All that remained from my previous life was a shepherd from Aspromonte. My previous life was swept away. I began to remove the pieces.
These are the moments where you can breakdown or react.The latter solution was the most appealing. Obviously I had to think of a way to leave. A thing remained and still remains, a phrase deposited in the meander of my brain” vai chi meiju i tia e fanci a spisa” (go with those better than yourself and provide for them). A nauseating phrase repeated by my parents. A ringing phrase, that seems to try to improve life. Never feel discouraged “jiu scuru da menzanotti no veni” (it can’t get darker than midnight)
Of course there was no lack of courage or life’s baggage. More so was the humility and dignity of the poor people. In order to construct a house you need an excellent foundation. Years later I think of those moments. It has not been a discontinuation of my previous life but a continuation. To emigrate, even if for me it was a luxurious emigration is to lose part of oneself, loved ones and stories, in a world that is not ours.
A world where, an immigrant lady once said to me, “you must work twice as hard as someone who is native of the place.” Once so you will be accepted and the other to carry out your normal functions. Therefore, in these situations lower your head and move ahead.The dignity of the conquered has always been the motivating force to overcome any obstacle.
My culture, which at one time I had turned away from, is returning in full force.
A while ago I examined an old women from Delianuova who said to me” nui ndi ndi jimmu I ja e trovammi bentu” (we left there and we found peace). Yes, we found peace but the price was high in order to integrate into a culture diverse from ours.I reflect on when I left and have finally made peace with my past.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

To a great person, the most humble amongst the humble.

Don Gaetano Villivà, born in Terranova (Reggio Calabria).
He came to the parish of S.M.Assunta, from Santa Giorgia, on May 5, 1946, as a church steward.
On November 20, 1952 he became the vicar of the church.
He died on April 2, 1981, at Delianuova.

A short biographical history of a great man.

``You became a communist``, he said to me, when as a university student I found him, one day, on the top steps in front of the church. It was his usual place to be before mass.
A surly man, with businesslike manners, but always with a smile on his face. With a historical memory of our town and secrets of the confessional.
Always wearing a black tunic, with white collar. An infinite number of buttons that, for me, still remain a mystery as to how long it took him to button in the mornings.
He saw to the upbringing of many generations, including mine, with reprimands, sometimes a snap of the fingers, but always happy to have us with him. He was the most honest and earnest man I ever met. I was very lucky.
Always a handkerchief in hand to dry the sweat from his forehead that was always plentiful, especially during processions.
On most winter evenings, and in other seasons as well, we found ourselves in the oratory, a large hall with a ping-pong table and soccer game. His lodgings were next to the hall.
In our exuberance, typical of children, we produced a deafening chaos.
But only on rare occasions did he enter to silence us. He understood our desire to have a good time. When he came, it was because we had exceeded the tolerable limit.
He always came, wearing his black tunic, speaking few words, but his presence was enough, and we all became quiet.
We had enormous respect for him.
His masses were the mirror image of himself, frank, of little words and great humanity, without ever being redundant. Their brevity was a pleasure and filled with great intensity.
His car, a FIAT ``500``, was always clean, used only to go to school, or to run errands in other towns. It saddens me that I never had him as a teacher.
I remember, as an altar boy, the interminable hours of the processions, in particular of the feast of the Madonna Assunta, on August 15. Us children were lined up in rows of two, there were many of us, and with him behind us, watching and at the same time performing his tasks of clergyman. Some of us would hide food in our pockets, due to the length and slowness of the procession. He would smile and pretend not to notice.
We had nothing, but it was a pleasure having him as our Priest.
Easter was a wonderful time for us altar boys. He would give us the Easter lamb, made of marzipan. A delicacy that many of us could not afford, it was ``the gift``. The only one that we would get. To carry that lamb into the house was like having a trophy.

He was not flashy, he never went overboard, and he was one of those people who commanded respect with his single presence. Our church group was composed of many people, and behind the scenes our Don Villivà supervised, like he did our daily lives.
As altar boys, in the vestry, there was always a fight to see who would control the bell. Arguments between children. He was calm, never taking sides. There did not exist rich or poor for him, only people.
There are no words to describe a man, who was for us, and our parents, a moral guide. Large in his simplicity, kind in his surliness and generous with those who had nothing.
He helped so many of the poor, with discretion and in silence, as great men do.
He was a part of our lives and our secrets.A man who will never be forgotten, and who remains within us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

To my mother and all women

"Cu di speranza campa disparatu mori" (those with hope live, those in despair die)
Prophetic Proverb in a land where "non ci sunnu occhji pe ciangiri" (there are no eyes to cry).
A land where, in the early 1940’s, roads did not exist, only mule tracks, reaching it depended on the weather, which determined whether it could open itself up to the outside world, or remain isolated for long periods of time.
The wind, snow, rivers hindered the evolution of an area like ours. "'Mbasciti juncu ca a fiumara passa" (Bend over, the river flows here).
The people, and in particular the women, were the last ones to succumb to the various impositions of nature, the wealthy bosses, 'ndrangheta (Calabria Mafia) etc.
"Na fimmana e na sumera fannu na fera" (a woman and a donkey make a party).
Poor, unfortunate and always submissive. "Cu ndavi fimmani no ndavi unuri" (he who does not have a woman has no honor).
The winners always write history, the losers have always been relegated to a minor role.
"I fimmini sbajiunu e i masculi trascuranu" (women make mistakes and men neglect).
The lives of our women have always been relegated to minor roles, the patriarchal system has prevailed. Beyond the daily duties, they had to submit to sexual desires.
To submit, a frequent significant term in our poor population.
To submit in games, to the wealthy, the strong, the more delinquent etc.
A life of submission. A life governed by the pack, were the weakest succumb.
I read Schidon’s chronicles and customs of 1870-1930, describing the lifestyle of our area. In my experience it did not stop in 1930, instead up until the 80’s not much had changed. "A great part of women’s work was in the fields, gathering olives, chestnuts and acorns. They helped men in the fields, plowing, watering and planting, even transporting sticks and branches of wood, on their heads (these were stuffed in a basket made from twisted cane rods)". It seems like a romantic and fascinating story.
"U cani du patrons muzzica sempre u sciancatu" (The boss’s dog always bites the poor man).
The women who picked the olives were slaves, without rights, but many duties. They awoke at dawn and traveled to where they were to pick the olives. In modern times automobiles or trucks would allow them the luxury of sleeping in their own houses. Instead, in the past, they slept in small dormitory rooms close to the grounds, crowded together with their children, like animals.
With there damp or worse wet aprons. They always began their day in the same position, their backs bent forward, heads lowered, facing the ground, legs spread apart.
Because of the nature of the work, their nails did not grow, due to the fact that they were constantly in contact with, and scraping, the earth. But, not only did they not grow during the gathering period, not even years after this infamous job.
The gathering periods was from November to April and for those who know the climate also know how clement it is.
They began at 7:00 – 7:30am and continued until 12:00, when they had their lunch. Each one would take out what little they had, wrapped in a napkin, eggplants in oil, dried tomatoes, bacon and bread. It was their moment of rest when they could chat. They were given only one hour by the owners, so as not to waste time, because "a cira squajia e a processione no camina" (the wax is melting and the procession is not moving).
They resumed at around 1:00pm and worked until 5:00pm. But it did not end then; they had to transport the sacks filled with olives which weighed approximately 3 kg., on their heads to the awaiting trucks, which would take them to the olive press.
"U citrolo va sempre 'nculo all’ortolanu" (the cucumber is always in the gardener’s ass). They then returned home to resume the job of mother and wife.
The gathering of the chestnuts was a similar job. They would carry, for kilometers, up to 50 kilograms of wood on their head, it was not amusing. When it came to the fields, men would do the plowing, but then the women would take over. Even during the Holidays there was no rest.
I hope only one thing, that this story should give credit to these women who in the end always have been and always will be the back of humanity. I think their wisdom would have helped many of us avoid searching, in other places our future and freedom.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Coalmen (producers of coal)

By Mimma Papalia

I come from a family of coal producers, a trade handed down from generation to generation; I recall my grandfather Nino (Antonino), my uncles (Ciccio, Peppe and Saru, who all later emigrated) and naturally my father (Natu).
A trade that has since vanished.
At one time a trade, an economic resource of my country and of my region.The instruments used were a pruning knife and axe, the electric saw was used later on, but only by those who could afford it. It reduced some of the hard work and eased certain jobs.
The coalman was considered the cleaner of the forest, because he was the last link in a controlled deforestation.
First the lumberjacks cut the logs, which were then transported by oxen and mules.
The pieces of lumber which were not used for industrial wood were used by coalmen to make coal.
The first thing the coalmen had to determine was the location where the wood would be transformed into coal. The plot had to be situated adjacent to the wind, which was the coalman’s worst enemy, and therefore seldom located at the bottom of a valley.
They would search for an area located at the bottom of a mountain or hill with water nearby for three reasons:
1. The wood was launched or transported by hand therefore descending was easier,
2. It was a shelter against the wind
3. Water was an important element for the transformation of coal.
They would dig the plot with a pick and shovel making it a perfectly horizontal level. The diameter of the plot varied and depended on the amount of wood used which was from 5 to 10 meters long.
Basically whatever wood was left behind by the lumberjacks was used by the coalmen. The wood would be cut into 1 m long pieces, sections varied from 2 to 12 cm. The wood was transported or thrown to the bottom of the pit, and here women would play a fundamental role.
Once the wood was in the pit, it was placed in a circular (rotating) pattern, starting from the outside going towards the center, rising as it got closer to the center.
The preparation of the pit had begun an example of fine craftsmanship.
At the base of the pit they placed branches and over it they organized the pit. The branches were used because
The wood could not be in contact with the earth
They formed a net that did not hinder the passage of the smoke
Therefore, giving a greater yield from the wood in the transformation into coal. If the wood came into contact with the earth it could not be transformed and would become smoked wood. The smoked wood was very good for the cooking of pork meat, specifically parts such as the mouth, feet, ears, etc, parts that were not used in the production of cured meats.
The smoked wood had various qualities, among them that it did not produce flames and therefore burned slowly.
As one sees in these two examples in a poor society everything was used, scarcity did not exist.
At the center of the pit they placed a smoke stack which was composed of large logs approximately 50 cm long, placed one over the other, leaving the center empty. This was a real and authentic smoke stack, as seen on the roofs of our houses.
The pipe had to resist the force created when other pieces of wood were placed on it.
This was one of the skills of the coalmen. The smoke stack was not fully constructed; it reached its height by being place on a base made of wood. The wood was placed vertically slanted from the outside to the inside. Once the wood inside the pit reached its ideal level they proceeded in completing the smoke stack. The wood stacked, placed in a decreasing diameter from the inside to the outside, until all the wood was used. An important factor was to leave space between the pieces of wood.
Then they proceeded in creating the roof. The base was covered using available materials, depending on the location and time of year. During the summer the pits were placed more often in the mountains, therefore ferns were often used. If ferns weren’t available, the foliage from the underbrush of beech trees, which were abundant, was used.
During the winter they moved to milder areas where clumps of earth were used along with green grass or moss.
This created a gap between the wood and the earth. The earth was placed from bottom to top and pounded with a spade. Once the pit was covered the earth was dampened and pounded with a typical tool which was a wooden shovel. This was a piece of log skillfully carved by the coalmen forming the shape of an oar, but thicker.
Once the earth was pounded and compacted they proceeded to light the fire. The top part of the smoke stack was left open, and from here the fire was lit. A piece of the pine wood that contained resin was often used and once ignited lasted a long time, over it they placed dry branches. The top part was covered with large logs then the gap with earth.
Holes were made on the top of the pit, approximately 60-70 cm apart, in order to let the smoke out. The moment the smoke became white they covered it and made holes in the lower levels of the pit, in the same manner, until they reached the bottom of the pit.
The pit was always watched; to make sure pockets of air would not form and catch fire.
Very often concaves would form near the holes. This was a sign the wood below was burning, instead of turning into coal. At this point the earth was removed and replaced by wood and covered.
Each morning and evening the pit would be dampened and pounded.
When the flames would come out of the remaining holes, the pit was cooked. The holes were covered with earth and left to cool for two to five days.
Another sign that the pit was cooked, other than the flames coming out from the holes, was when a step formed on the outside.They then proceeded to unwrap, or remove the coal. The earth was then moved to the edge of the clearing to be used for the next pit. Before proceeding in the extraction of the coal it was dampened, for two reasons, to temperate the coal and render it manageable and to eventually extinguish potential fires.
The outside part of the pit was easily pulverized, since it was comprised of softer wood and was subjected to the constant pounding of the pit. The middle part, an immense space, was made out of whole pieces of carbonated wood. It looked like the pit had just been prepared but rather being green it was black. The pieces of wood were placed on the outside, over the earth, which had been removed from the pit. The interior part was composed of larger pieces of coal.
Once the procedure was complete, the packing would begin. The sacks used were made of jute (a strong glossy fiber made from a tropical herb) with a capacity to hold 40 to 60 kg.The large pieces were deposited first, followed by smaller pieces, the so-called fine coal, which was shifted to cover the spaces left between the larger pieces and render the sack more compact.Longer pieces were placed on the outside in order to avoid leakage of coal. The sacks were tied with string which was crisscrossed through the holes made at the edges of the sack with of a small pointed branch. After 7 to 15 days the job was completed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rules and descriptions of the games from our childhood

By Rossi Fortunata


Two or more players. Two sticks: one about 70 cm long, round and sturdy (a mazza), the other about 15 cm long with a pointed end (broschiju).
Small hole in the ground (marreja).
A draw is made to determine the player that decides on the procedures of the game: a corpu, a mpizzo, a spada, u biccheri etc.

A corpu:

The smaller stick (broschiju) is placed in the hole, on a slant. The player hits it with the larger stick (mazza), causing it to flip in the air.
At this point the player must hit the broschiju with the mazza, trying to hit it the furthest possible distance.
The player who hits the broschiju the furthest wins. The distance is measured with the mazza.

A mpizzo:

The tip of the broschiju is planted on the side of the hole. It is hit hard with the mazza, whoever hits the broschiju the furthest wins.

U biccheri:

The broschiju is placed on the closed fist of a player. With the other hand the player holds the mazza. The broschiju is thrown up in the air and is hit with the mazza.

A spada:

The broschiju is held behind the mazza, in a closed fist. The broschiju is thrown in the air and is hit with the mazza.


Wrapped with a string, the top is thrown to the ground, either sharply (a corpu), or using less force so that the string unwinds slowly.
If thrown "a corpu" it can be thrown with the tip of the top pointing up, or down.
While the top is spinning, it is picked up in the palm of the hand, passing it between the index and middle fingers.
The top "eats" if it feels heavy and "doesn’t eat" if it feels light as a feather.

A bigger top with large tip is called a cardara.
A smaller top is called pirogina.

The most often played game is the Circle:
Two or more players place a coin or round cork in the center of a circle. They try to move the object out of the circle using the top. The player that succeeds in doing so gets to try and break another player’s top using the tip of his own top.

Another version of the game is to have all the players throw their tops in the center of the circle. This version was more entertaining because one player could hit another player’s top by accurately throwing his own.
The children would often try to have two tops. A smaller one to throw and a larger one to be able to hit another player’s top.


Unlimited number of players. A "singa" (two perpendicular lines 80 cm long) is drawn on the ground.
Every player has a coin, or in a poorer version, a cork.
From a predetermined distance, everyone throws the coin trying to get the closest possible to the "singa".
The manner in which the coin was to be thrown on the first round would be determined by the player whose name would be drawn. After that whichever player would come first would decide.

The positions possible:
"A ncucchjiu" (with both feet together).
"All’ancata" (with one leg bent in front of the other).
"Gangila" (standing, one foot on the knee of the other leg, forming a triangle, with the top thrown through the triangle).
"Ngja" (with legs spread apart and bent).

Throws possible:
"A firriu" (the coin or cork held between the index and thumb).
"O cilu" (the coin was spun).

The order was determined based on the distance of the player’s coin or cork from the lines. Whoever came closest would take all the coins, would shake them between their hands and throw them to the ground.
The player would keep the coins or corks that would land on their sides.
The others would be left to the next player. When only one coin remained, it would be spun in the air.
The same rules would apply when instead of using the "singa", the wall of a house was used.


Two or more players would take turns throwing a coin against a wall.
The player who would land their coin closest to that of another player would get to keep it. The distance would have been predetermined by the players.


Two teams formed of 2-5 players each.
The team who was picked first forms a line, with the players bent over, their heads between the legs of the player in front. The first player places his head and hands on a neutral person, "the mother", who stays seated and regulates the game (if no person is available, the player leans against a wall).

The other team’s player’s jump on top of the players who are bent over, they must remain on top, without having their feet touch the ground, for a predetermined amount of time.

If one player gets tired, because of the weight, he says "manna", at this point all the team’s members have to give up and the game is restarted.

If one player from the second team falls off, the game is restarted, and the teams reverse positions.


Unlimited number of players.
A draw is made to determine the player on whose shoulders the other ones will have to jump over.
The player, whose name is drawn, bends forward, with hands on knees. The other players jump over, saying a rhyme, representing the numbers one through ten.
The player who makes a mistake takes the place of the one who is bent over.


This game uses an object similar to a dice, made from the bone of an ox’s foot.
The dice is thrown, and there is different version of the game depending on which side it lands on.
Among them, the player who is conducting the game determines how many hits a losing player will receive when the madwoman, wearing a handkerchief, comes out of the house.


Hide and Seek.


Tag: The player chosen tries to catch another player, the player caught tries to tag someone else.


Two or more players construct castles made using walnuts, with a base of three walnuts or chestnuts, topped by another two nuts. The distance between the castles is determined by a larger walnut or chestnut, also used for the throw.
There is a draw to determine which player gets to regulate the game, determining the distance and type of throw.
The rules are similar to that of another game, the "singa".
The player throws the nut at the castles, trying to hit as many as possible.


Game played by both sexes.
A series of squares in the form of a bell are drawn on the pavement. The player would throw a stone in the numbered squares, and would hop with one foot in the single squares, and both feet in the double squares, without touching the lines, trying to pick up the stone.


A slide is created using various materials. Players would throw hazelnuts down the slide, one at a time. The player, whose hazelnut would touch the others, would get the hazelnuts.


Players had to guess how many hazelnuts or chestnuts a player held in his closed hands. Whoever guessed the right number got to keep the nuts.


A draw is made and the player chosen becomes "patri gilormu" (the father). This player has a house, which is a rectangle drawn on the pavement. He comes out of the house saying the phrase " here comes padri gilormu", standing on one foot, with the other bent back at the knee, and a handkerchief in one hand, he chases the other players.

If he puts his foot down, the other players hit him until he retreats in the house.
If he touches another player with the handkerchief, the two retreat to the house.
The two then come out, standing on one foot saying "here comes padri gilormu cu su fighiju (the father and his son), and the game continues until all the players become the children.


Teams of 3-5 players are formed. The team drawn comes into possession of the house.
From the house the players would go out trying to tag the other players. The players tagged would become prisoners, and be brought back to the house.

Here they would be watched by some members of the team, while the other members would go out trying to catch more players.
The "prisoners" would have to be watched because they could be freed, if another "free" players would tag them.

The game would end when all the players would be caught.The game would then restart with the roles reversed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wednesday, September 18, 2007
by Mimma Papalia

Whenever I return to Delianuova, I visit two people that had the courage not to leave, thanks to their intelligence, ability and tenacity, in constructing something that gives luster to our earth.
Accomplice to the National Park of the Aspromonte, Antonio Barca has not left the mountains. Nor has he left the rivers which, in the winter months, flow with terrible force towards the Mediterranean Sea, which is so close yet so far away. Today Antonio can climb every day, as he did when he was a child, to the planes of Carmelia, a geologic terrace under the pyramid of forests and the cliffs of Montalto, its highest peak at approximately two thousand meters, the last mountain on Italy’s continent.
Nevertheless, only a few years ago, Antonio, 40 years old, had his suitcase ready, since as a carpenter with a bad back, there was nothing to do. Marie Theresè Italiano (Teresa), his wife, was already in Treviso. They were ready to leave Delianuova, and migrate, just like thousand of others, towards the North.
Fortunately, this is one of the symbolic stories of the New Aspromonte, one of the many stories of the rebirth of this mountain: In the end Antonio, with courage and happiness, decided his future was in Delianuova. In the planes of Carmelia, between the tall beeches, among the river of pebbles made smooth by the flowing water, among the villages that have taken root to the stone, between the snow that, for months and months, rebels against the sweetness of the Mediterranean and whitens the Aspromonte. Antonio has become one of the guides of the Park. And, with other young people (Diego and Aldo) they created a nature-based tourism association. Three boys who, in this extreme periphery of Europe, have decided it is worth the pain living in this extraordinary land.
From Repubblica
From the tip of Italy
Godfather Saro asked me one night, what do you hear in the forest? I said: “I hear the wind.” And he: “I believe it is water.” He was right, there was a stream, and at dawn there he was, fishing for trout at the exact spot.
The stars are out and Antonio Barca, owner, builder and manager of a lodge in the Planes of Carmelìa, at an altitude of 1260 meters, recounts how he learned about the Sacred Mountain of the Calabri. The Aspromonte, high like an ocean-liner in a sea without end. Antonio made it alone. He found the land and built a lodge with twenty beds. Today his back is ruined due to hard work but, he does not complain, he lives there happily. He has lit the fire. At the table there is his wife Marie Thérèse Italiano, Diego Festa, the guide from heaven that fixed my Topolino and his friend Giuseppe Lorenti who met me like a falcon in Catania.
The car is outside dirty but happy in the cool air. “My father and Godfather Saro taught me about the mountains, to travel without a map, listen to the sound of the water, find the martens’ holes, to hunt for dormouse after All Soul’s Day. Ah, the dormouse! A delicacy, the most delicate meat in the world…
I learned everything as a child. I would see acorns on the ground and I could tell if the dormouse, rat, rodent, or the jay had nibbled on them. This is my world, my life ". For a moment there is silence. "But it is hard up here, Paolo; you don’t know how hard it is. The doves leave and the crows remain. Emigration has resumed. But I said no, I did not leave, I have invested all I have. This mountain is a fabulous resource for young people of good will. But almost nobody helps me. Think about this, one day, the President of the Danish Parliament came with his sons and their sleeping bags. He was mesmerized by the area. Can you imagine an Italian politician doing the same thing? ".