Calabria: the most unstable land in Italy, full of wandering and landing, landslides and earthquakes.
It is similar to the bow of an aircraft carrier ship in the middle of the Mediterranean, the divided sea, run by fleeing people that Europe undergoes without understanding.
The Calabrian migration is not just about those who leave, but especially those who remain, becoming a foreigner at home.
A Calabrian anathema says “Ah chimmu ti criscia a ierba ‘nta casa ” (That grows the grass inside your house!). What in the past was a scornful wish of misfortune, has become today the skyline of the semi-empty medieval villages.
“Terra Mossa” – the photo essay and the documentary film in progress – narrates the generational links between those who remained, between fathers and sons; the passages of knowledge, traditions and myths; the memories of the Mediterranean; of whom, like a hermit crab in the empty shell, finds on its shores welcome, meaning, home; the last guardians of the Ark – Aspromonte, Serre, Sila and Pollino – its mountains sailing between seas.
It is crossing ancient Greece too, which here became Byzantium, cradled by the Roman Mare Nostrum at the time when that was a unitary sea. Places with a scent of overseas, lighting up the imagination.
The last charcoal makers of Serra San Bruno, the nomadic alchemists of fire, who for six centuries moved with traveling shacks on all the mountains of Calabria. An ancient procedure, all by hand, which can only be passed from father to son: “do not teach it to the hired worker”, they tell you, “because the wooden charcoal breathes like a living animal when it is fierce with fire, gives birth, he dies”.
The shores of Schiavonea, a fishermen village at the foot of an abandoned medieval town. This coast of the Ionian was in the twenties the dream of the south Italian boys, attracted by a legend: the boats seemed to go to the bottom, as they were full of fish, it was said. They came from Sardinia or Sicily, even on foot from Naples, or from the Amalfi coast, like the ax Master Natale Monti, called for his much requested art. They took wives, founded houses, spent three or four months at sea with their children, returning bearded like Ulysses.
These fishermen live on the same sea scrutinized from the villages-fortresses by the arbëreshë, the Albanians who fled in the fifteenth century from the Turks to the shelter of the Greek Sila.
Today, the children of Africa are coming out from the same sea, out that “abyss covered by a mirror”, as the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert wrote.
Recovered from the seabed to get back name and burial, rescued in the African waters and welcomed by people descending from Aeneas the refugee, who in such a way is perhaps saving Christianity, the Mediterranean identity and the Europe of the walls.