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San Giovanni in Fiore - Italy

An introduction and a poem about San Giovanni in Fiore

The old medieval town on a steep mountainside which boasts as its founder Joachim of Fiore - photography by Francesco Saverio Alessio - copyright © 2003

San Giovanni in Fiore in the fog...

[...] The insufficient afternoon light and the first autumnal dense fog imposed this feeling on the conscience, and they worried it. - by Salvatore INGLESE


My Hometown - by Francesco Saverio ALESSIO

San Giovanni in Fiore (1050 mt. about sea level) is a small medieval town in the Sila mountain range in Calabria. It has a population of 20.000, but half of them have emigrated to other places.

When and who founded San Giovanni in Fiore

San Giovanni in Fiore was founded in the XIII century around the Florens Abbey which was built by Gioacchino da Fiore, a medieval mystic and Cistercian monk, who wrote a lot of books about the prophecy of the salvation of the human race; for which he was very renowend even that time. Dante in the Divine Comedy decribed him as one "endowend whith prophetic spirit".

Why did Gioacchino build the Abbey

Gioacchino da Fiore decided to dedicate himself to Biblical study, in particular the hidden meaning of the Scriptures. He proposed the creation of a new and stricter order which was called Florens after the name of the place where he believed the salvation of the human race would start. Pope Celestine III approved his proposal and so they started building the Abbey in 1198 in Sila.

San Giovanni in Fiore today

In the poem My Hometown Rina FERRARELLI describes the nostalgia she feels for the hometown and her pride in her roots, also she talks about how the old town is full of unused empty houses which were built by past generations of people from San Giovanni in Fiore for their children, but their children have never come back to San Giovanni in Fiore to live in these houses.

Mediterranean Culture: cultural antropologic and urbanistic disaster: View of modern San Giovanni in Fiore  Photography: Gaetano MASCARO, copyright 2003  for a History of italians and florenses mass emigration

Mediterranean Culture: Cultural antropologic and urbanistic disaster for a History of italians and florenses mass emigration

View of modern San Giovanni in Fiore

Photography: Gaetano Mascaro, 2003

In the first chapter of the essay of "The restless alliance between psychopathology and anthropology (memories and reflections of an experience on the field)" - drawn of the "I fogli di Oriss", N 1, on 1993 - the Dr. Salvatore INGLESE wrote: My first impression was that of a place contained on him self, wrapped around an invisible, monastic and claustrophobic secret.

I don't see a positive future for San Giovanni in Fiore unless there a change of political class and the development of the tourist industry.

Beyond the goldsmith tradition, in the course of the History, the woven is the one that characterized the handicraft production of San Giovanni in Fiore, with bedspreads and trousseaus with strongly coloured geometrical motifs, some directly inspired by those of the hellenic colonists who in their turn had been instructed by Persian craftsmen. It’s useless to say that, beyond small sporadic examples, currently this tradition is practically extinct.

Despite its rich history and natural beauty San Giovanni in Fiore today is in a state of economic and cultural ruin, beacause of mass emigration, political degradation and the failure of traditional culture.

--by Francesco Saverio Alessio

Florens Abbey - San Giovanni in Fiore - Italy - photography by Francesco Saverio ALESSIO, copyright © 1987

My Hometown

The old medieval town
on a steep mountainside
which boasts as its founder
Joachim of Fiore
di spirito profetico dotato
whom Dante put in the Paradiso
stayed the same until WWII
surviving it unscathed,
but now, even here,
narrow three story houses
fill every vacant space
and every garden
every single one
has been paved
made into a road or parking lot.
What’s amazing, though,
is not the greed
or the need to take part
in the twentieth century,
but the trust,
the confidence in the future.
The wars are forgotten,
the hunger, i padroni.
Maybe for the first time in history,
even here it’s America.




Rina FERRARELLI was born in San Giovanni in Fiore but she emigrated to USA vhen she was fifteen.

She has published a chapbook, Dreamsearch (Malafemmina Press, 1992), and a full-length book of original poems, Home Is a Foreign Country (Eadmer Press, 1996); her translation Light without Motion received the Italo Calvino Prize. Her work has also appeared in many journals and anthologies, including American Sports Poems (Orchard Books, 1988), Artful Dodge, Chelsea, Hudson Review, and International Quarterly. She teaches English and translation theory at the University of Pittsburgh.

Francesco Saverio Alessio in San Giovanni in Fiore in background one of his architectural decoration works - Photography: Carmine TALERICO - copyright © 2001

Francesco Saverio Alessio in San Giovanni in Fiore - background: one of his architectural decoration works

Photography: Carmine TALERICO - copyright © 2001

in perpetual under us!

All Rights reserved copyright ©2004 by Francesco Saverio ALESSIO

Mediterranean Culture Web Site - Florenses Escatology


Emigration Antropology

Common roots and cultural diversification

The restless alliance between psychopathology and anthropology

Emigration History

Florense Passion

Remembering Ellis Island on Columbus Day - Article by Ro Pucc

Mediterranean Art

Mediterranean Architecture

Mediterranean Design

Welcome! To the middle of the Mediterranean Sea...Link: intercultural home, english: Internet  logo of - Mediterranean Art: Computer Science for Mediterranean fantastic architectural rendering personal research: "Tear drops" : dedicated to handcrafts goldsmith florense's tradition; draw of "Le città della Gojia" © copyright all rights reserved by San Giovanni in Fiore, 2001/2004; architectural rendering 3D programming with software for CAD ( Computer Aided Design ) by Francesco Saverio ALESSIO© Rendering, CAD, Mediterranean Computer Art Design: see the others renderings works inside mediterranean art web site in perpetual under us!


Contacts - links


Joachim of Flora

Emigration Poetry

My hometown

The Bricklayers

This Other World

The Bread Wreath

The Bread We Ate

Buried in the Flesh



Calabrian Dialect Poetry

Saverio PERRI

Pasquale SPINA


Mediterranean Sea

Greece Ionian Islands

Architecture of Intelligence