Old Calabria By Norman Douglas


Its situation, as you approach from Castrovillari, is striking. The
white houses stream in a cataract down one side of - Page 190
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Its Situation, As You Approach From Castrovillari, Is Striking.

The white houses stream in a cataract down one side of a steep conical hill that dominates the landscape - on the summit sits the inevitable castle, blue sky peering through its battered windows.

But the interior is not at all in keeping with this imposing aspect. Morano, so far as I was able to explore it, is a labyrinth of sombre, tortuous and fetid alleys, whexe black pigs wallow amid heaps 'of miscellaneous and malodorous filth - in short, the town exemplifies that particular idea of civic liberty which consists in everybody being free to throw their own private refuse into the public street and leave it there, from generation to generation. What says Lombroso? "The street-cleaning is entrusted, in many towns, to the rains of heaven and, in their absence, to the voracity of the pigs." None the less, while waiting for mules that never came, I took to patrolling those alleys, at first out of sheer boredom, but soon impelled by that subtle fascination which emanates from the ne plus ultra of anything - even of grotesque dirtiness. On the second day, however, a case of cholera was announced, which chilled my ardour for further investigations. It was on that account that I failed to inspect what was afterwards described to me as the chief marvel of the place - a carved wooden altar-piece in a certain church.

"It is prodigious and antichissimo," said an obliging citizen to whom I applied for information.

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