Old Calabria By Norman Douglas


There is a castle, of course. It was built, or rebuilt, by the
Aragonese, with four corner towers, one of - Page 180
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There Is A Castle, Of Course.

It was built, or rebuilt, by the Aragonese, with four corner towers, one of which became infamous for a scene that rivals the horrors of the Black Hole of Calcutta.

Numbers of confined brigands, uncared-for, perished miserably of starvation within its walls. Says the historian Botta:

"The abominable taint prevented the guards from approaching; the dead bodies were not carried away. The pestilence increased; in pain and exhaustion, the dying fell shuddering on the dead; the hale on the dying; all tearing themselves like dogs with teeth and nails. The tower of Castrovillari became a foul hole of corruption, and the stench was spread abroad for a long season."

This castle is now used as a place of confinement. Sentries warned me at one point not to approach too near the walls; it was "forbidden." I had no particular desire to disobey this injunction. Judging by the number of rats that swarm about the place, it is not exactly a model prison.

One of the streets in this dilapidated stronghold bears to this day the inscription "Giudea," or Jewry. Southern Italy was well stocked with those Hebrews concerning whom Mr. H. M. Adler has sagely discoursed. They lived in separate districts, and seem to have borne a good reputation. Those of Castrovillari, on being ejected by Ferdinand the Catholic in 1511, obligingly made a donation of their school to the town. But they returned anon, and claimed it again. Persecuted as they were, they never suffered the martyrdom of the ill-starred Waldensian colonies in Calabria.

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