Roghudi Vecchio, hope in an abandoned town
Once upon a time, in Roghudi Vecchio, a ghost town in the province of Reggio Calabria, people sang in Greek-Calabrese dialect.
Controversial anthropologist Cesare Lombroso, in an 1864 essay of his, noted “Rich and poor greatly enjoy gathering to listen to beautiful ‘tragude’ or songs, accompanied by bagpipes and tambourines that often improvise performances under the window of a beloved woman, or come together in the evenings for a special holiday.”
“These songs” – the father of physiognomy-inspired criminal anthropology went on – “hint at hunting, work in the fields, satire against landowners, or rich neighbors…”
For the past fifty years, the crumbling houses in Roghudi have been silent. All you hear in the small town, nestled on a hill like an inexpugnable fortress surrounded by caves and ravines, is the hoarse voice of the Amendolea, the Aspromonte river that flows below.
Roghudi, whose history is documented as far back as the 11th century, was completely abandoned in 1973, after two floods made it impossible to live in.
At its summit, the Church of Saint Nicholas is in ruins as well: someone has recently built a small cross there with two branches, and placed two small statues at its feet, one of Saint Anthony and one of the Virgin Mary.
They are the only, undefended signs of hope for rebirth.