Roghudi Vecchio, one of Italy’s last ghost towns, is of Greek origin.
In 1971, the hamlet’s resident population was about 1,650, but, built, as it was, in one of Calabria’s wettest districts, it experienced frequent, severe floods. In a matter of two days, in 1971, the rain that fell amounted to the area’s normal annual average.
This event isolated the hamlet for a long time; several people died or went missing, while many houses could not be reached.
As a result, the Mayor, Angelo Romeo, on the 16th February 1971, signed an order for the evacuation of all the families in the village.
This order was adhered to by the majority of the population, which was transferred to the present-day, new Roghudi, built on land further downstream, granted by the municipality of Melito Porto Salvo.
A number of hardliners, mostly elderly people particularly attached to their home place, ignored the order and continued to live, in difficult conditions, in their native hamlet, until they had to yield to the force of nature which made its presence felt even more keenly on the night of the 29th December 1973. Since then, Roghudi has added its name to the bleak list of Italy’s Ghost Towns.
A curious anecdote concerning the place is the following. Huge spikes were nailed into the outside walls of the houses to which ropes were fixed. The other end of these ropes were then tied to the ankles of small children. This may seem like a rather barbaric practice, but, it was necessary to prevent children from falling off the tall crags present everywhere, and was adopted as a preventive measure after several children had fallen to their death.
Some people swear that those who venture into the area by night, can still hear the laments of the children rise up from among the rocks, but this is simply a legend… Maybe.
Roghudi gets its name from the Greek “rogòdes“, full of crevices, or from “rhekhodes“, rough.
Roghudi and the hamlet of Chorio di Roghudi, are the birthplace of a number of important poets, the so-called “Poeti operai” [Worker Poets] including Mastrangelo, that is, Angelo Maesano, the “father” of the Greek-Calabrian anthem Éla mu condà [Come close to me], Francesca Tripodi and Salvatore Siviglia.
The historic site of the ancient Greek-speaking hamlet of Roghudi, once a farmstead belonging to Amendolea, stands at an altitude of 527 metres on a tall tooth-like rock at the very heart of Amendolea river, in the midst of a highly impervious territory where mountains and ravines alternates continually.
The road that once crossed the Aspromonte, the one that Norman Douglas travelled along in 1915, during his journey from Delianuova to Bova, leads to the tiny, semi-abandoned hamlet of Ghorio di Roghudi, close to which stand two geological formations that seem to be guarding the entrance to the valley: the Rocca du Dragu [Dragon’s Den] and the so-called Vastarùcia, meaning milk cauldrons.
A little further on, stands Roghudi, a ghost hamlet for over fifty years now. Richoudon, from the Greek Rhogodes, means crevasses. It is mentioned for the first time in a mid-eleventh-century Byzantine land-registry document, and said to be a residential nucleus near property belonging to the Valle Tuccio Sant’Angelo monastery. At the turn of the eleventh century it was annexed to the fiefdom of Bova, until, in the twelfth century, it became part of the Barony of Amendolea and remained such until 1806. Flooding during the last century drove away the Graecanic shepherds and the peasants who had lived there for centuries, making Roghudi a symbol of the abandonment that characterises the Aspromonte area today.
EXPLORING HISTORIC CENTRE
Having been enchanted by the Aspromonte routes that pass through forests full of age-old trees and skirt deep gorges and clear streams, the visitor arrives at Roghudi. The suggestive powers and the stories that characterise this uninhabited place permeate its surroundings.
Two natural geological formations evoke myths and legends symbolic of the Greek-Aspromonte area: la Rocca del Drago [The Dragon’s Den] and the Caldaie del Latte [Milk Cauldrons] .
The Rocca du Dragu , as the locals call it, is an enormous monolith with two circles like eyes on one side; the Vastarùcia, that is, milk cauldrons, are so called because of their spherical shape which gave rise to the legend according to which they were used to feed the dragon, placed there to protect a treasure. Others hold that they were given this name because of their shape similar to the pot , a cardara, in which milk used to be boiled.
|Comune||Borgo di Roghudi Vecchio|