© Roberto Alborghetti Photos

On the slopes of the Sila, in Calabria (Italy), in the province of Catanzaro, there is an extraordinary place, representing great pages of history and  culture. It’s the ancient abbey of Santa Maria di Corazzo, founded by Benedictine monks in the eleventh century, near the river Corace. It was mentioned in papers since 1060-70! It appears today in the particularity of its ruins, which give a charm to the surroundings. Almost a destiny that it was destroyed several times. It was firstly rebuilt by the Cistercian monks in the twelfth century. It was later damaged by the earthquake in March 1638, and again after another earthquake in 1783. The monastery was then slowly abandoned and stripped of his artistic works. Today, as I said, the ruins remain as wonderful tracks of the past. The abbey is located in the village of Castagna (Chestnut), in Carlopoli territory.


I discovered it a few weeks ago, during my tour in Calabria for lectures and launches of my new book “Nessuno resti indietro”. I met there the guide Antonio Mangiafave – he dressed a medieval monk suit  while explaing history and facts about the place – and Maria Antoinetta Sacco, councilor of Carlopoli, who led me visiting the ruins, which seem to evoke a Stonehenge atmosphere in the land of Calabria . Why the Abbey of Corazzo is so important? Not only for the fact of being an ancient Benedictine building, but also because its story intersects with that of a great man and author, Joachim of Fiore, also mentioned in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. He took the monk’s habit,becoming abbot. Then he moved to Pietralata, before settling in Sila in the spring of 1189, in San Giovanni in Fiore where he founded a new religious order, the Florence Congregation, approved by Pope Celestine III in 1196.

 Santa Maria Corazzo was now “adopted” by the volunteers of the “Progetto Gedeone – Gideon Project” for the creation of a “Social Enterprise” animated by different purposes. They provide opportunities for job placement to people living in social-economic hardship and / or psychic, experimenting with new career paths, in forestry agriculture, social tourism and enhancement environmental goods but above all, as a place of integration and reference for the community where the disadvantaged subjects play a leading role, thus breaking down the prejudices inherent in distress. “Gideon Project” also aims to encourage activities directed to mediate and mitigate the relational and emotional problems that people encounter in their daily family life. The volunteers welcome the visitors of the ancient abbey providing informations while they lead them through the amazing ruins of an impressive place.