There are places that mean a lot to me. The ghost town of Roghudi Vecchio, Old Roghudi, is one of these. This abandoned village is one of the most fascinating and mysterious places in Calabria region, southern Italy. It is not easy to get there, Roghudi Vecchio is located in one of the most isolated and wild areas of the Aspromonte mountains.
The roads leading to the abandoned village are winding and in bad condition. I know the way, I’ve been in Roghudi Vecchio several times, but this time too I have to resist the temptation to turn the car and go back. I calm down only when I see the village from above, unmistakable with its row of houses that stretches along the crest of a narrow spur of rock that overlooks the white bed of the river Amendolea.
Once in Roghudi, a narrow road climbs from the beginning of the village to the church and then goes down zig-zag to the white bed of the Amendolea torrent. At the sides of this path the houses alternate with scary precipices. Attached to each other, the ruins still cling tenaciously to the cliff defying every law of gravity. It takes only a few steps to make me completely lose the notion of time and be completely present here and now.
Rich and poor greatly enjoy gathering to listen to beautiful ‘tragude’ or songs, accompanied by bagpipes and tambourines that often improvise performances under the window of a beloved woman, or come together in the evenings for a special holiday. – Cesare Lombroso, 1864
Isolated from the rest of the region, the Roghudesi, Roghudi people, led a simple life based on just that the territory could offer. The isolation has meant that they could save more than others their costumes and especially their language: the greek of Calabria. This language is still spoken by descendants but unfortunately it is in great danger of extinction.
Outside the houses of Roghudi a nail was attached. Mothers used to tie their younger children to this nail with a rope to prevent them from falling into the dangerous ravines of the village.
Roghudi, of which we have news from the beginning of the eleventh century, was abandoned by the population in 1973, after two floods that made him hopelessly unfit for habitation. A few years later the new town of Roghudi Nuovo was built 40 kilometers away, close to the Ionian coast, which welcomed most of the Roghudi People.