The shape of this piece of Aspromonte has surely attracted the attention of all who have seen it, including the ancient Greeks, who settled in the area in the 7th-century B.C. and who are responsible for its name, Pentedattilo – from the Greek ‘penta’ and ‘daktylos’, meaning ‘five fingers‘. Indeed, this cluster of buildings, on the edge of the Aspromonte Mountains in the southern tip of Calabria, clings, at 250 m above the sea level, to a strange rock formation, Monte Calvario, a mountain whose shapes once resembled that of five fingers, before earthquakes and landslides slightly modified its contour. Indeed, it was after the latest landslides that happened in the 1960s that the hamlet, located 30 kilometers southwest of Reggio Calabria, was completely abandoned by its inhabitants to become a ghost town.

Since  the 1990s, Pentedattilo has experienced a slow transformation of old houses in artisan shops: carpenters, souvenir production, bergamot shop, groceries stores, and a bar. Today the ghost town lives in a precarious and extraordinary balance thanks to visitors and artisans. It is populated, but not inhabited; it has been brought back to life, but no one lives there. It houses a museum of popular traditions and there is a youth hostel in a nearby modern settlement. Moreover, every year between August and September, the ancient site hosts the Pentedattilo Film Festival, a popular international short film festival. Visitors need to be in decent shape as there is a steep, uphill walk to the village from the parking area. Exploration is on foot, but well worth a ramble through the abandoned lanes of this unique landscape candidate to be listed among UNESCO Global Geoparks. A candidacy that will be fostered by the meeting of the Italian Association of Nature, Walking and Interpretive Guides that will take place there  in April.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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