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You need to have a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it behind. A village means not to be alone, to know that in the people, in the trees, in the soil, there is a part of you, that, even when you are away, stays there waiting for you. (Cesare Pavese, Italian writer, The Moon and the bonfires)


Castropignano years '20-30

Castropignano is a small village in the province of Campobasso, from which is 20 Km away. Castropignano has about 1000 inhabitants and is located 612 meters above sea level. About 4 km from the center lies the hamlet of Roccaspromonte, whose population accounts for one fifth of the entire community. Roccaspromonte is a completely different village, accusing the discomfort typical of marginalized communities in crisis of identity, and boasting a dialect with different words and inflections than the Castropignano one. A quarter of the population lives in scattered houses in the country side, which has an area of 27 km and lies on the hills of Molise, coinciding precisely with the Middle-Molise. The orthographic trend alternates sharp areas, often converging on alluvial rivers and hills in sweet, soft, sloping towards the valley of Biferno.

The village stands on a rocky ridge, which runs parallel to the valley of Biferno in a panoramic, almost aerial, position of intense beauty. The Tratturo track Castel di Sangro-Lucera walks along the village going up toward the mountains of Molise, sometimes it is well-defined, recognizable, and brings to mind the shepherds and the sheep-based economy which used to be the basis of a culture lasted thousands of years. Close to the village, to the north, the rocks houses the ruins of the d'Evoli Castle, that still commands respect and fear, because of its amenity, mitigated only by the landscape that you can enjoy from it. In its vicinity is of major importance the presence of polygonal defensive walls (6-5th century. B.C.).

Other remains of archaeological importance can be found in several points of the countryside, attributable presumably to former Roman villas, a small temple and a necropolis. They justify the theory according to which the village has changed appearance and location as a result of various economic, political and military settings. The village is divided in two parts: the old town, with architectural and structural features of the medieval village, centered on the d'Evoli Castle, which, this is a rare occurrence, is located outside the town, and the second part spread outside the walls which has different characteristics. The medieval part still has its charm almost intact, since there have been only a few alterations, like the substitution provided on the narrow streets, once an authentic embroidery of limestone, replaced by slabs of porphyry, clear evidence of the callousness of those who exchange the "civilization" for the modern.

scorsioThe Bifernina, the only real thoroughfare, as well as a director of development for the community and the municipality, was not understood in its importance, and was ignored by the "ruling class", however, was exploited by some enterprising traders, who have bet on it. In fact, along the way were born the only economic activities of some importance: two restaurants with annex hotels, a rotisserie, two cement manufacturing firms, two machine shops, a sports complex equipped with clay-courts.

Unfortunately Castropignano retains the typical characteristics common and recurring in internal Molise first of all a poor economy, characterized by a marginal role of agriculture, since the workforce is now directed towards other areas. Many pensioners are dedicated to agriculture, as well as middle-aged farmers and among these, a high percentage of women, plus those who, finished the daily work as laborers, devote themselves to agricultural work. In the industrial sector, many people are employed, mostly included in an age group ranging from thirty to forty-five. The craftsmen includes only a few survivors. The demographic decline was violent since the late '60s, then it became smaller and tolerable, coinciding with that of the small towns of the entire Molise. The per capita income, in line with the regional, is very modest and often mixed, resulting, for example, from employment, pension and from a small agricultural production, however it satisfies the basic needs of a family. The landscape clearly shows the fragmentation of land ownership: there are many abandoned houses that dot the countryside, often characterized by great architectural value, but hurt by neglect and indifference. Many are ruined, others resist challenging time just to spite those who ignore them. A few small houses were built along the Biferno by citizens of the capital of the province. The woodlands are remarkable and are mostly consisting of oaks. The town forest has an area of 20 hectares.

The new generations, as has been said before more implicitly, have been oriented in recent decades, to new jobs, leaving in the hands of their fathers and grandfathers the cultivation of fields. Unemployment is quite high.It's substantial the number of workers who every day have to go to Campobasso or to reach a more distant place to work. They do this mostly on their own, since they can't benefit from public transport, which are totally inadequate. The only two coaches that came from Campobasso in the afternoon, cross the main square at 15 and 18.30 -These are the buses used by women who work in the city as housemaids . During the school year young students reach the capital of the province in order to attend secondary schools. Commuters also emphasize the basic characteristic of Castropignano, which depends on Campobasso for education, work, bureaucratic requirements and for the purchase of consumer goods also common as a newspapers. 
Educational levels have gone higher, but this has not resulted in a consequent rise in the intellectual content of the community as a whole, which is even poorer in this respect: many families of intellectuals have moved permanently to Campobasso, removing a potential from the village which otherwise might have helped to build a more livable and emancipated lifestyle . The families appear at the weekend, or summer; then at weddings, funerals and elections ... The latter, post-war until today, have plagued the community, have seriously undermined and brought to the current phase of disintegration of a collective identity, something of which the community is an inert and troubled witness . In Castropignano there are no clubs or associations, that last for more than one season, and if there are attempts to set up new clubs they are, rightly or wrongly, considered sectarian, and so not engaging and coagulants. There is an atmosphere of mistrust, suspicion and loss, of which the squares and streets are an eloquent response, with their silence of emptiness, the village offers no alternative than going to the bar, playing cards ,and the rituals and colorful polemics on football events .
There is no room for anything else, much less to women's access, which remains a "conquest" to do. Even the people of the "internal migration", in their tourists role do not like to the same extent as a time to come back for the holidays, now they do it just to see parents, brothers, to rest, to breathe a physical environment more healthy, to remember. 

The inhabitants of Castropignano do not seek each other , do not like being together, we find ourselves among intimates, including members of the tribe, clan, to which we cling and where we find shelter. If we look at the middle class and older generations the community is still anchored to traditional values typical of the rural world. Young people instead offer a framework made of disorientation, of conflictual coexistence between old and modern values in the attempt to assimilate a more urban-lifestyle. The community as a whole is going through a phase of stagnation, there is no cultural ferment, or processes emerging in other respects. The politic choices reflect the regional trend, expressing percentage of consents to the ruling party (center-right), gravitating around the 50%.

The Christian religion is heartfelt and involves far more the elderly and women. Only in this context the survivor feeling of "collective" is alive and expressed outwardly, on the occasion of processions, funerals or important Christian celebrations. There has been no crime cases, but only sporadic incidents of general crime, expressing the lowest rates in Italy. However it arose in the immediate vicinity of the village, a huge prison complex, that never came into operation, demonstrating a taste for some sort of colonialism (even within the borders of the nation) on a small community and an area that deny absolute needs and requirements of this type. Prosperity has enhanced the value of money and social emancipation in relation to it, has exacerbated the individualistic spirit in reference to the individual, families, classes within them, as in their relationship. Several prejudices regarding the social classes no longer exist, but latent or apparent conflicts are still recurring. From what has been reported it would seem that we wanted to paint the devil blacker than it is, but the unfortunate condition of lethargy (or euthanasia?) in which the country has fallen was given to convey a message of alarm and a proposal for a dialogue, so do not be tempted to believe that the old saying is still true: "Castropignano of the Bulgarians, antique shelter of infamous, carry the vice high ,and of every virtue is enemy"

Read more:

  • Raffaele Sardella (Storia di Castropignano)

  • Bruno Sardella (Archeologo)

  • Angelo Sardella (Antropologo)

  • Raffaele Sardella Junior (Storico dell'arte)

  • Acquistapace Alessia (arrampicatrice)

  • Evangelista Osvaldo (micologo)