June 15, 2022
Photography by Francesco Mercadante
Words by Daniela Cerrato
Near Kudros (Cutro)
...where the imagination takes you by the hand
There are places where nature plays a decisive role in our thoughts and words sometimes struggle to express the enormous charm captured by the senses. Therefore it happens that to reinforce the idea of beauty, a synergy of expressive forms (painting, photography, storytelling, poetry, music...) comes to the aid which together make a creative effort useful to better convey the idea of how "powerful" the influence of a landscape.
This is where this need arises, the idea is from Francesco Mercadante, passionate about painting and photography, who thought of an interaction between photography and poetry to bring out the best of the beauty of Cutro, of which he comes from, offering me the opportunity to express in verse what he has captured with the lens.
Let's start by getting to know the history that Cutro went through, interspersing the news with the splendid shots by Francesco Mercadante that highlight a particular area….
Cutro was a town in ancient Magna Graecia and in Greek it was called Kyterion, Koutro/Kudros in Latin times, probably with the meaning of "potter" in Greek, since a lot of pottery was produced due to its clayey nature. Jumping to the second half of the 1500s, under Spanish rule, it became the most important granary in the area until it obtained the title of city from King Philip II in 1575. On March 8, 1832, in the early hours of the day the city was destroyed by a disastrous earthquake and most of it was razed to the ground with hundreds of victims.
Until the mid-twentieth century, Cutro was the most populous and productive center in the area, but later it underwent an important emigration, first to Germany and later to northern Italy: in particular to Emilia and Lombardy. The largest community of Cutrese origin is located in Reggio Emilia
A pleasant climate for most of the year its peculiarity is the natural beauty of the area that includes Cutro and Roccabernarda where the so-called badlands give the landscape a suggestive, almost surreal face, also composed of clay monoliths, biancane and hills cultivated with wheat and for this reason defined as "yellow dunes".
They are the same dunes that Pier Paolo Pasolini in his reportage "The long sand road" published in the magazine Success in 1959, described as follows: "...Then the road leaves the sea and enters an area, all yellow, with hills that look like dunes imagined by Kafka. Some peasants return on horseback, or on some very slow old carts, along the infernal road, without a tree around..."
Pasolini chose it to shoot some scenes of "The Gospel according to Matthew" and later affirmed that: "the Calabrian landscape is enhanced, with its marvelous natural contrasts, in which gentle slopes contrast with violent rocky jolts" ...and more... " In Calabria the most serious of crimes was committed, for which no one will ever answer: the pure hope, the somewhat anarchic and childish hope of those who living before history, still has the whole of history ahead of him, was killed."
The particularity of the area has been perfectly transferred into captivating images in the photographic reportage by Francesco Mercadante who has masterfully collected the suggestion and magic of the place and allows the observer to immerse himself in the enchantment, in that dose of "surreal" that hovers in the veiled and rarefied atmosphere of the views; as he himself stated: “What I photographed are not images but a reproduction of myself, that is the landscape that entered me and became a photograph. I set my camera to a long exposure then closed my eyes and photographed the yellow dunes."
I have never visited those places but Francesco's "talking" images were an excellent guide and inspired me to write the poem "Kudros" in which I tried to best collect the spirit with which he perceived and reproduced the incredible aura of that land.
where the body returns to clay
pre-genesis silence dominates,
the light envelops, disorients,
bewilders the senses.
Bare clay, lizard in the sun,
asks the wind faint blow
to the traveler the enthusiasm of the senses
to grasp the elusive.
Beyond the dunes it descends towards the coast
an echo of stories and voices,
clearer lights anticipate the sea
but in this delirium of sand
the mysteries of Oinotria dwell
Inviolable, deep, ionic.
Daniela Cerrato, April 2022