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Africo




Africo is located in the so called  Calabria Grecanica, approximately 75 km from Reggio di Calabria and it has the characteristic of being divided into two sections at a considerable distance from each other.
The first of these is a small enclave in the town of Bianco, the second one (Old Africo)  is located some 15 km in the mainland at the feet of the Aspromonte and was founded around the 
9th century by inhabitants from Delia or Deri.

 

 Not easy to get there if you are not from "around here".​
 

 
Above : Old Africo...or what is left of it, and below is Casalnuovo,  both  villages were abandoned due to catastrophic natural events.
 

The economy of the village was mainly sheep farming, also practiced was the breeding of silkworms, reflecting the Greek origin of the village. An earthquake in 1783, partially destroyed the town which was hit again in 1905 and 1908.​
 

In 1931 the Calabrese writer Corrado Alvaro described a famine which had afflicted Africo.
 
 
In 1946, Umberto Zanotti Bianco published a book on the people of Africo, Tra la perduta gente (Amongst the lost peoples) describing the dire conditions and hunger.​
 

At the time the village could only be reached by a 6/7 hour ride on a mule. In 1948 the journalist Tommaso Besozzi and photographer Tino Petrelli published a report in the magazine L’Europeo, once gain reporting about the misery and hunger of the people of Africo.


 
The article, entitled Africo, symbol of disparity, and the series of documentary photographs produced an outrage from national public opinion which, at the time, was rediscovering the dramatic situation of the "southern political question" (la questione del Meridione). 

In October of 1951 a violent flood devastated Africo and Casalnuovo, a referendum was called among the population of the two villages, to decide whether to abandon the old town half destroyed, this option had the majority.

The town was finally abandoned in 1951 due to the disastrous floods and landslides.
The inhabitants were forced to leave and find temporary shelter in Bova Marina, Reggio Calabria and Fiumara di muro while waiting for a final solution.

 

 
(Smoldering coal in the containers at the feet of the children, was the only source of heat during winter)

The first was economic aid came from the Swedes, subsequently, due to mounting pressure within Italy and from abroad, a ministerial decree, gave the official go ahead to the actual construction of the town.
The decision to transfer the population of Africo and Casalinuovo in its current location presents unclear aspects, the project had the support of the parish priest of Africo and a member of the PCI  (Italian Communist Party) , but from the beginning were expressed serious doubts about the advisability.

Particularly opposed was the ' National Association for the interests of the South and Umberto Zanotti Bianco , who remarked how the people (mostly farmers), with the transfer, would have been dispossessed of their land, moved into a territory lacks resources, and would have been thus destroyed the foundations of a community life that the inhabitants had painstakingly built up over many generations.

 

 
The  Africo Nuovo (New Africo), was reconstructed around 15 km away, on the Ionian coast near Bianco.
 

 
Acknowledgement & riconoscimenti​


Africo Antica
 
According to some scholars, the name may have derived from the Latin name apricus (airy and sunny) which is from the Greek aprokos.
 
Others believe it comes from the Latin  africus (ventus), winds from Africa.
 
































 
 


 
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