Calabrian Tales: Contract for a Ghost
If you walked along the Viaranda (the old Roman road, partly hidden by asphalt, that leads from the Torrefazione Guglielmo on the old Highway 106 to the hilltop village of Staletti), you used to see the silhouette of the Casino Pepe, an example of Calabrian country residence with architectural and historical value in its own right. In addition, the building is situated on the grounds of the monasterium vivariense of Cassiodorus, quite close to the Ionian shore and the fishponds. The structure, now a shell, was to be restored with funds from the European Community. Work on the site began on September 24, 1998, and is to be completed by September 24, 1999, or else all monies have to be returned.
We shall see. In February, when I last visited the site, I was told that work had stopped since November, and none too soon, I hasten to add, because one of the inner arches, which I remembered standing tall in happier times, when the only inhabitants of the Casino were chicken and pigs, had collapsed. Beneath the arch, the ground had been dug up, and then covered again. What's worse, the ancient masonry which made the Casino attractive has been covered with something that looks like greysh cement. Thus, we can no longer see the fragments of late antique material re-used for the construction of Casino Pepe, or the openings in the outer walls, useful to fire a few shots on briganti and other unwelcome guests. Restoration, demolition, or white-washing? It's hard to tell, because the person responsible for the works, whose name - ANTONIO MOSCA - was conspicuously displayed at the site, has been dead for a while (so I am told), and other persons, whose names do not appear in print, have been doing the work. Meanwhile, Emanuela Bocchino, who wants to restore the former church of Sancta Maria Dei Genitrix (Santa Maria de Vetere), whose roof collapsed long ago, is still awaiting a building permit.
* Click on Site of Vivarium for the text of the letter of inquiry sent to Giorgio Ceraudo, of the Soprintendenza ai Beni AA. AA. AA. SS. of Cosenza.
Good News Department
Preservation of the Site of Vivarium, Township of Stalettė (Calabria, Italy).
Giorgio Ceraudo of Cosenza, Soprintendente ai Beni AA.AA.SS. for Calabria and responsible for the preservation of sites determined to have architectural, artistic or historical value in that region, has proposed to the Ministry in Rome the vincolo ex lege 1497/39, to include almost all the township of Stalettė and some adjoining areas. The proposal for a vincolo, when done by the regional authorities in charge, automatically freezes all attempts at unchecked development. In the case of Stalettė, a warehouse for coffee beans and a shopping center were planned right over the likely site of the monasterium vivariense of Cassiodorus. The proposal came in the nick of time; may it sail smoothly, and godspeed.
A Literary Park for the Gulf of Squillace.
Giovanni Maria Calabretta, mayor of Soverato (province of Catanzaro, Calabria) gathered his colleagues from nearby town halls to formulate plans for a parco letterario ("literary park") on the Gulf of Squillace. Literary parks, sponsored by the Foundation Ippolito Nievo, are sites related to some historical or literary figure that have preserved their pristine appearance through time. Cassiodorus is, of course, the historical figure related to the Gulf of Squillace, and we have been saying for some time that one of the unrecorded miracles of Cassiodorus is the fact that his land has remained practically untouched for fifteen hundred years. We plan to visit Mayor Calabretta and hear more about the project.
THE SITE OF VIVARIUM: AN UPDATE
When news of the latest building projects for the proposed site of the monasterium vivariense of Cassiodorus at the Coscia di Stalettė (to include a warehouse for the coffee beans of local entrepreneur GUGLIELMO and yet another cement trap called "villaggio turistico") reached the Societas internationalis pro Vivario, the documentation gathered so far on the historical and ecological value of the site was submitted to (respectively) the Ministero per i Beni Culturali, Via San Michele 22, 00154 Rome, and to the Ministero per i Beni Ambientali, Piazza del Popolo 18, 00184 Rome.
No reply from Via San Michele yet, but the Ministero per i Beni Ambientali acted quickly. A vincolo paesaggistico is now being placed on the site, meaning, among other things, that no new constructions will be allowed. Furthermore,the responsibility for landscape planning for the whole region of Calabria is being removed from local control and given to the Ufficio Centrale per i Beni Ambientali e Paesaggistici at Naples, Castel dell1Ovo.
This is good news indeed. Thank you letters may be sent to arch. Antonella MOSCA, Ministero per i Beni Ambientali, Piazza del Popolo 18, 00184 ROMA.
After long years, the former chapel of S. Maria de Vetere - now a landmark building, but falling apart, and used by the previous owners as shed for farm tools - has been recognized as the property of the BOCCHINO family.