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         News and Events - April 2015


Crowd Turns Out for Montedoro


 “Montedoro” the film made its World Premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival and was greeted with a warm turnout . Film maker Antonello Faretta and a dedicated team from Noeltan Film Studio, enjoyed the attention given to the movie.

Lena Camperlengo, a Craco Society Director serving as the host, opened the event with a heartfelt introduction saying, “It started with a dream. Montedoro called to a hermit; some say he was a monk. This man came to live on the hillside to escape the wars and conflicts of men below and devote his attention to spiritual matters. It started with a mother's heartbroken choice to send her daughter to America for a future she could not provide in the hillside town. But Craco called the daughter home. It started with a water leak. In a water system meant to improve the lives of the people of Craco. Instead, it undermined the geology and caused a landslide. The town now sits abandoned. The landslide swept away half the town and its cultural heritage. It started with 5 curious amateur genealogists eager to reclaim their families' heritage. Forming the Craco Society they have grown into more than 400 sons and daughters of Craco scattered around the world. It started with a dream. A vision held by Antonello, Adriana and Pia to tell the story of a place that continues to call us home.”

Faretta and Society member Pia Marie Mann, who is the star, were hosted at a promotional event after the showing by The Craco Society using grant funds awarded by the Basilicata Regional Authority. The Society was also the sponsoring host at the Premiere.

The film addresses a question about identity and roots that Faretta portrays by drawing on the story of Pia Marie Mann, who was born in Craco and adopted as a four year old by a family in New York. She returned 59 years later to find her birth mother. Using that story as the background, Faretta adds the effort by Craco’s community to reconstruct its identity and his own questions about his identity.

The Society assisted in the production by providing historic material and photographs that appear in the film and sponsoring the Atlanta showing.


Cracotan Turnout — Shown above are scenes from the after show party hosted by Craco Society Director Lena Camperlengo (center) along with Antonello Faretta and Adriana Bruno from Noeltan Films.  Pia Mann with her sister, Linda Totino, and mother share ideas about Montedoro. Far right, Antonello Faretta, Pia Boffilo Mann and Adriana Bruno are interviewed at the premiere.



New Craco Census Records


The Society’s efforts to obtain additional census records were rewarded with the location of the 1859 Craco Census.

After contacting l’Archivio di Stato di Potenza regarding material it might hold about Craco, arrangements were made for Pasquale Ragone and Enzo Lavaia to travel to Potenza from Craco and obtain copies of the documents.

As they were accessing the material they encountered a new map of Craco (see pg. 4).

They also obtained a full copy of the 1859 Craco Census. This new piece of information adds a dimension to our understanding of the town.

Prior to this material the Society had two census documents, a full copy of the 1857 Census and a copy of the 1865 Index to the census which only listed names without individual data.

The new census material is being evaluated and compared to the other records. But it is already revealing some information.

The 1857 census was certified by the Mayor Francesco Cammarota, parish priest, Giovanni Spera, and Councilor Luciano Laurenzano on 30 June 1858, while the 1859 census was certified 15 July 1861 by Cammarota, Laurenzano and the new parish priest, Nicola Nardandrea.

The two documents also show changes in the population:

1857- 1859

Men 594 to 589

Women 769 to 789

Boys (under 14) 252 to 273

Girls (under 12) 228 to 235

Total 1,843  to 1,886

The 1859 Census also has a summary page indicating the population in the prior year was 1,867 individuals with 100 births, 70 deaths and 11 leaving the town producing the gain of 19 people over the prior year.

The summary breaks down the changes as follows:

Births legitimate males — 52

Births legitimate females — 43

Births illegitimate males — 2

Births illegitimate females — 3

Deaths males — 37

Deaths females — 33

The 1869 Census document was recorded on the same leger format as the prior census. This will allow for a comparative analysis that will identify changes in households.

Although the 1859 Census has not be indexed yet we can locate families based on the 1857 Index. Any member interested in details from the new census can contact us at: memberservices@thecracosociety.org.

The Society is greatly appreciative of the work done by Pasquale and Enzo on our behalf; we are in their debt for the assistance they provided. The material they found will be invaluable.


New Craco Map — The map shown above was located by Pasquale Ragone and Enzo Lavaia during research they conducted for the Society at the Regional Archives in Potenza. The map shows the town boundaries and buildings but does not identify specific pieces of property other than the Casa Municipale (town offices). It shows three sections of the town, Castello, Piazza, and Frazione Unica. The legend at the right side provides the boundaries of each section. The legend provides the locations of the 18 named streets in the Castello section and 24 streets in the Piazza section. There are five other named streets that complete the listing. Unfortunately, there isn’t a date showing so at this point we are not sure of the era it represents. Subsequent evaluation and comparison to other maps will provide more understanding to this wonderful piece of history.



Banner Preservation

The 115 year old banner from the mutual aid society formed by the Crachesi arrivals in New York in 1899 has undergone professional preservation and conservation.

The Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco was organized by Vincenzo Camperlengo, Gaetano Cantasano, Pasquale Marrese, Nicola Torraca, Carlo DeCesare, Giuseppe Rinaldi and Antonio DiSisto to help the Crachese community and also served as the social organization that sponsored and supported Cracotan traditions including the celebration of the feast of San Vincenzo in Manhattan.

The banner is attributed to Pasquale Marrese who operated a tailoring business at 53 Spring St., Manhattan. The elaborate needlework shown on the flag is representative of the skills the Marrese family brought with them from Craco. Interestingly, the type of stitchery ’was consistent with making military uniforms and as we learned Pasquale and his son Vincenzo served in the Italian Army. The banner is 52 inches high with a 2 inch fringe on both sides and is 70 inches wide with a 2 inch fringe on one side.

The white and red fabric is silk and rayon, with a cotton interlining, the green is pure silk. (It is this area that a separation was noticed in the 2014 display of the banner during the San Vincenzo Feast that triggered the preservation effort.) The ties and the fringe are cotton and rayon while the blue and red fabrics used in the front and rear crest are pure silk. There is also metallic thread used in the crest embroidery. The front crest contains a blue (that was associated with San Vincenzo) field on which is embroidered a goblet with the Greek symbols Chi and Rho, a monogram for Christ. A sword and palm sheaf representative of San Vincenzo’s martyrdom are crossed behind the goblet and the letters S, V, M are around it representing the initials for him. At the bottom of this crest is the stemma of Craco, a forearm and hand holding three sheaves of wheat.

Arched over the crest are letters in metallic thread spelling out Societá S. Vincenzo Martire, while under it are, Di Craco 1900.

The rear of the banner has the crest of the Lesser Coat of Arms of the House of Savoy , the rulers of Italy in 1900. The crown above the shield is embroidered with metallic thread. The red shield, made of silk with brown paper underlining. Below the crest is an Annunciation scene in a small image.

The conservation assessment determined that although in overall good condition the parts made of silk show deterioration and breaks. The Savoy crest on the rear was deemed “badly shattered” due to it being glued to the brown paper underling. The green silk in the banner also exhibited multiple splits and there was a 5 inch break where the 4th ribbon tie is located. The ribbon ties are also fraying and torn from repeated working over the years.

The preservation work cleaned and flattened the banner, repaired the 5 inch tear, and stabilized the red silk on the rear medallion. The banner was then packed in a 30 inch wide archival box with the front medallion showing. A Mylar sheet was placed over the banner so the box lid can be removed for viewing while still maintaining protection.




Rigirone Archives

The Society’s efforts to obtain additional information about the history of Craco may have been enhanced with the location of the Rigirone Archives (see March 2015 Newsletter).

The inventory of items in the archive that relate to Craco and appear to have potential for us are:

 1868 Regulations to Police

 1870 Regulations for the Savings and Loans of Craco

 1882 Note of Workers' Mutual Aid

 1860 correspondence for to the collection of voluntary donations by landowners residing in Craco supporting the insurrectionary troops

 1864-1872 correspondence relating to threats and violence against Archimedes Rigirone as mayor of Craco from attacks by bandits.

 1865-1890 correspondence relating to the delivery to the Comune of Craco for the premises, goods, and furnishings of the abolished Monastery of Minor Observants.

 1866 Contract with Vincent Sarubbi, mason, and the Comune of Craco for the construction of the cemetery.

 Motions and proposals submitted by Archimedes Rigirone during the various sessions of the Council of Craco.

 List of robbers arrested and those killed."

 Essays, transcripts, and reports of local history.

 "Crachese words and sayings.”

 Archimedes Rigirone, works: introduction to "Chronicles Cracensi"

 Origin of Craco and its history.

 1949 Report on the Church of San Vincenzo in Craco for its recognition as a National Monument.

 1954 Special note regarding the landslide area of Craco

 Photocopy of subscription of protest against the policy of persuasion to abandon the town of Craco.

 1967 "Wandering in the history of Craco." This is a history of Craco in episodes that appeared in the church bulletin "La Stella" released by the parish of San Nicola.

 Letters to Crachesi who emigrated to America about the collection of money among citizens abroad for the restoration of the monastery of San Vincenzo in Craco.


This material has the potential to provide a rich picture of Craco that has been lost for decades. We are exploring access to the archive that is currently in Ferrandina and hope to be able to obtain copies of these items.


Click here to view A Year in Craco.  Events in Craco for every month are listed.  Thank you to Joe Rinaldi in Canada for his contribution to this page.

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