Category Archives: Opinion + Commentary

Opinions and commentary about particular subject matter or posts.

Archives unearthed!

Hello friends!

Today was cleaning day for me and guess what I found? Old photos, newspapers and editions of “u focularu” from the early 70’s! Yes, material from almost 40 years ago.

So, I thought that it would be great and that I should share some of my finds with everyone. If you’re interested, stay tuned. I will organize the material and likely do a little scanning and Photoshop work to present old pictures and articles from the defunct Gagliato Social Club (of Toronto). Given that I was the last President of that club, I believe I have the freedom and authority to publish some of that material. And even if I don’t, I’m going to do it anyway!

I am certain that you will find some of the material interesting.

It will take me a couple of weeks to get things posted. As in the past, I will likely upload one post per week.

Hope you’re all doing well.


Well… did you enjoy the exhibit images?

After 24 straight days of posting images, it feels like I’m coming up for air from a long swim… I now have to get creative and come up with something else to keep the momentum flowing.

As can be seen from the “Hits” stats, we’ve officially surpassed the 7,000 mark! That is an awesome feat and I thank everyone who has been a loyal follower/visitor to this site.

Time is again becoming very precious for me and, at the moment, it appears that I may have an opportunity to only post weekly, rather than daily. I apologize in advance, but I am embarking on a new project (which I cannot discuss at the moment) which will require huge amounts of research and preparation.

At this time, I would like to whole-heartedly invite interested individuals to submit articles that can be posted on this site, to supplement the posts that I will create.

I will try my best to have the next post up by this coming Monday. Until then, thanks again and I wish you all a very happy American Thanksgiving and a buona fine settimana (end of week) – have a great weekend!

Another successful NanoGagliato…

I heard through the grapevine that the 2011 edition of NanoGagliato was a resounding success! Kudos to the organizers and to the people of Gagliato for their immense contributions and hard work… no wonder it was a success.

For my part, I carefully prepared 24 images that were exhibited in the cantina of Palazzo Romiti. I must admit, it was painful for me to work so hard at something and then not see it in its final form. Of course, I’m not blaming anyone for me missing it. The event simply conflicted with many other personal commitments and I could not make the long and time intensive voyage.

I would like to thank the organizers for allowing Stephanie’s and my work to be a part of this year’s event. And I would be remiss if I do not mention and thank Jo Ann Fleischhauer for her initiative, guidance and direction… and for taking so much care transporting our images to Gagliato and setting up the exhibit.

If you got a chance to see the exhibit or attended NanoGagliato, please write to to share your experiences.

I will have more to share soon.

Ciao for now,


‘U Monacu – The Carthusian Grange (la grangia certosina)

Recently, someone inquired if I had any information about ‘u Monacu. As this involves the history of Gagliato, I decided to share my response with everyone.

‘U Monacu is the location just outside Gagliato where once stood an old monastery.

I was born in Gagliato but left at a young age. So, I did what anyone in my fortunate position would do – ask my parents and my brother – all born there and resident there for many years. They spoke of their recollections and the claims by many that spirits were (and apparently still are) a formidable aspect of the ruins.

On the cover of Domenico Vitale’s monogram, ‘i Zzippuli (see Arts and Culture section) published almost a half-century ago, is a bright rendition of what the ruins looked like at that time. Here is the image:

Well, if one tries to find those ruins today, I am told that very little remains. When my daughter and I photographed the town in 2007, the “famous” ruins were not in the visible horizon (maybe we didn’t look hard enough).

However, Francesco Pitaro (see Arts and Culture section), wrote an article that referenced the ruins and provided a very brief historical summary.

Last Sunday’s post entitled The Borgias and Gagliato, was conceived primarily because of  a connection that Francesco Pitaro described in his article. Today, this post has its roots in that same article.

In an effort to address the inquiry, I translated the piece and I have included both the original in Italian and my translation (any translation inaccuracies are solely my responsibility).

(Source: Francesco Pitaro in Gazzetta del Sud, 28 luglio 1996)

La grangia certosina

Dell’antica grangia certosina di Gagliato resta ben poco. Quell’antico insediamento monastico ha sempre rivestito per la comunità gagliatese, ma anche per quelle dei paesi limitrofi, una grande importanza. Con un piccolo sforzo di fantasia è possibile immaginare come tra quei monaci  e la gente del luogo fosse in atto un reciproco rapporto di laboriosità e di preghiera.  Tempi remoti, di cui oggi non giunge altro che un’eco lontana, quanto suggestiva e toccante. Ancor vivo è invece il disappunto per l’insipienza di quanti permisero che i ruderi del vecchio convento passassero in mani private, e quindi manomessi e irrimediabilmente deturpati.

La data di fondazione è alquanto problematica. Esiste tuttavia un documento che fa supporre che essa  dovette essere costruita a partire dal XII-XIII secolo. Si Tratta di un atto di donazione, datato 14 novembre 1191, per mezzo del quale si assegnava al monastero di Santo Stefano del Bosco un podere nel territorio di Gagliato (prœdium positum in agro Galliati). La grangia dovette essere molto fiorente dal punto di vista economico.  Essa infatti amministrava un vasto feudo che ricadeva nei comuni, oltre a quello di Gagliato, di Satriano, San Sostene, Davoli e Argusto.

Tra le sue mura, fra l’altro, si spense padre Saverio Cannizzari, priore della certosa di Serra San Bruno dal 1766 al 1774, nonché profondo studioso di matematica e astronomia.  Ciò avvenne il 10 gennaio 1784, quasi esattamente un anno dopo il catastrofico sisma che devastò l’intera Calabria. Cominciò da quell’infausto evento la decadenza del cenobio: la Cassa sacra e i francesi, in fasi diverse, dapprima lo sospendevano e poi lo sopprimevano assorbendone tutti i possedimenti.

Uno studio più approfondito su questo personaggio e sulla sua permanenza in questo eremo mi riservo di riprenderlo quando il tempo a dispostone me lo consentirà. In ciò avvalendomi di un paziente ed encomiabile lavoro di ricerca minuziosa che fece per me, molti anni or sono, il bibliotecario della certosa di Serra San Bruno, padre Serafino Caminada. I documenti da lui rinvenuti negli archivi, e vergati di suo pugno con minuta calligrafia, mi sono preziosi e mi hanno permesso di scoprire questo aspetto riconducibile alla grangia gagliatese.

The Carthusian Grange (translation)

Very little remains of the ancient Carthusian grange at the outskirts of Gagliato. That ancient monastic settlement was of benefit and of great importance to the people of Gagliato and those in neighbouring towns. With a little effort and imagination we can conceive that the monks and the locals had in place a solid relationship of hard work and prayer. A time so remote, which today is but a distant echo, yet evocative and touching. The memory still lives, but with disappointment at the foolishness of those who allowed the ruins of the old convent to pass into private hands, now compromised and irreparably scarred.

The exact founding date is somewhat problematic to determine. However, there is a document that suggests that it had to be built sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The document is a “deed of gift” dated November 14, 1191, by which was assigned to the monastery of Santo Stefano del Bosco a farm in the territory of Gagliato (prœdium positum in agro Galliati). The grange must have been economically strong, as it also administered a large estate that bordered the towns of Gagliato, Satriano, San Sostene, Davoli and Argusto.

Within its walls, among other things, died Father Xavier Cannizzaro, Prior of the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno from 1766 to 1774, who was a profound scholar of mathematics and astronomy. He died on January 10, 1784, almost exactly a year after the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the entire Calabria. From that inauspicious event began the decline of the monastery: the Sacred Treasury and the French, in different phases, first suspended and then rescinded the activity by absorbing all the possessions.

A more detailed study of this character (Father Xavier Cannizzaro), and his stay at this retreat (the grange), I intend to resume when time permits. For such, I have volumes of minute details patiently, meticulously and commendably researched for me, many years ago, by the librarian of the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno, Father Serafino Caminada. The documents he found in the archives, and penned in his own tiny handwriting, are precious to me and have allowed me to share some aspects of the Gagliatese grange.

The Borgias and Gagliato

Did you know that the Borgia family once ruled over Gagliato?

According to an article written by Francesco Pitaro, during the feudal fifteenth century, a certain Goffredo Borgia (brother of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia) took control of the entire area by force, away from the Morano family who controlled it for most of the 1400’s. The Morano family was then licensed under a modus vivendi arrangement with Goffredo Borgia to continue to use the land.

The reason I’m writing this post today is because The Borgias mini-series will be broadcast beginning tonight. Who knows, maybe Gagliato or Catanzaro will be mentioned in this depiction of one of the most powerful (corrupt) families in the history of man (one title that the Borgia family held was the Princes of Squillace – Squillace is an area, including the Gulf of Squillace, just outside Catanzaro)? According to the Toronto Star, the story of the Borgias influenced Mario Puzo in the writing of The Godfather.

Here is the section of Francesco Pitaro’s article in the original Italian:

Di questo paese  [Gagliato] si hanno notizie storiche a partire dal XV secolo, allorché era un feudo della famiglia dei Morano che lo ebbe in proprietà fino a tutto il ‘400. Passò poi ai Borgia, principi di Squillace, che lo avevano sottratto ai Morano con la forza. Protagonista di questo fatto d’arme era stato Goffredo Borgia, fratello di Cesare, il Valentino, e di Lucrezia, sorretto da un gabellotto del luogo, tale Gironda. In seguito il feudo tornò ai legittimi proprietari in forza di un modus vivendi, con l’usurpatore Goffredo.

Nel 1494 Ferdinando I re di Napoli espropriò tutti i beni del Morano e li assegnò a Luca Sanseverino, barone di San Marco. Nel 1626, per vincolo matrimoniale, passò ai Sanchez de Luna i quali acquisirono il titolo di marchese. Infine, nel 1714, a questi succedettero i Sanseverino. Un decennio dopo fu riacquistato dai Sanchez de Luna che incardinarono il titolo di duca. A distanza di alcuni anni era questa famiglia di origine spagnola che lo alienò in favore  dei Castiglione Morelli che lo trasformarono in baronia.

Nel 1806 ebbe inizio l’eversione della feudalità a opera di Giuseppe Bonaparte e l’antico feudo di Gagliato fu trasformato in luogo appartenente al «governo» di Satriano. Con il successivo decreto istitutivo dei comuni, 4 maggio 1811, venne dichiarato comune del comprensorio di Chiaravalle Centrale.

(Francesco Pitaro in Gazzetta del Sud, 28 luglio 1996; lo stesso articolo, con opportuni aggiustamenti, l’autore ha pubblicato sul mensile della Giunta regionale della Calabria i Calabresi nel mondo, aprile 2000)

In The Quiet Of The Mind There Is Gagliato

In the past, I have written that many people who were born in Gagliato and have emigrated away likely do not discuss “Gagliato” openly, but they do hold it, the town and/or the concept, very dear to their heart — in silence. It’s almost like suffering in silence. I believe those individuals have a lot to contribute to our understanding of Gagliato and Gagliatesi, and I would be fascinated by their contributions.

For culture to remain strong, it must be passed on. I urge you to consider sharing your experiences with the members of this forum — and the world.