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.