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 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? ".