The Amendolea River
At the very heart of nature and history: the Amendolea River
“I sought / amid the ruins / something to salvage: / a night’s sleep, / four walls, / bricks, / inert material. There, above the Amendolea, / where dying armies continue to bear witness to / an ancient civilisation / and a tongue / unknown to many.”[i]
Ancient classical writers like Herodotus or Strabo, tell us that these rivers were once navigable. Of these, the Amendolea – in ancient times Alèce, referred to by the above-mentioned geographer – and the Melito-Tuccio were for a long period of time the only thoroughfare between the mountains and the sea.
The Amendolea is an emblem of the Greek-Calabrian area, not only because it flows through the centre of a superb landscape, but also because it carries enormous historical-cultural weight. All around the valley, in horseshoe formation, stand the last strongholds of the Greek language and culture. It has been the cradle, therefore, of the grand Greek civilisation of the classical era,, a heritage it continues to this day.
The river springs amid the gorges and ravines of the Aspromonte mountain range, and swells and widens as it rushes down the mountain slopes. It leaps over the steepest rocks and produces an extraordinary choreographic series of enchanting waterfalls, of which the most impressive is the Maesano. There are also tarns, here called “gurnali“, of which the Olinda, in the neighbourhood of Santa Triada di Roccaforte del Greco, is the most outstanding. Halfway along its descending course it is joined by its tributary, the Colella, and reaches its widest point, in places measuring as much as 500 metres across.
Having flowed through Roccaforte del Greco, Roghudi and Condofuri, it joins the sea at Condofuri Marina. Besides the Colella, it is also joined, en route, by the Menta –its principal tributary, on which an important dam has been built – as well as by the Furria and Condofuri Rivers.
[i] Filippo Violi, Mèsa sta spitìa chalammèna, in Filippo Violi, I nuovi Testi neogreci di Calabria, vol. II, Iiriti ed., Reggio Calabria, 2005, p. 264.