Thus begins Mediterraneo , the generational cult movie by Gabriele Salvatores, and maybe it’s that strategic importance none which brought me again in May and June, after almost 10 years, to Kastelòrizo (Μεγίστη/Megisti in Greek, oh yes, Megisti really exists, but also named Kastellorizo, Kastellorizon, or in italian Castelrosso or Castellorosso) on a travel made with makeshifts, on lands and seas of Italy, Greece and Turkey, on the road to Cyprus.
Just so… it happens sometimes to feel a desire, though untroubled, to leave for a while the bite, and enjoy the pleasure of feeling so little, but not dispersed in the world, since you always know that, at home, you have someone who loves you.
It’s not my purpose to tell the history of Kastelorizo (you simply need to click the link to have all the desired information, or you can take a look of my marvellous photo-book of Kastelorizo 😉 ), but I’d just like to sketch the atmosphere to introduce, in the next few days, two remarkable positive examples of clever administration.
Megisti is little more than a Greek stone in the Aegean Sea, with a military presence, off the coasts of Antalia, that is a few hundred meters from Turkey. An isolated island, “the end of nowhere”, no roads except the one, about half Km long, which, from the village, leads to the airport up the hill. A “nearly” daily flight with tiny rotor planes from Rhodes which land on a small strip of asphalt (to make it clear… that bare ground where the plane lands in the movie Mediterraneo). Or, in the summertime, a couple of liners per week from Rhodes for 8 hours of navigation.
It is just this being secluded that makes the island a fairy place, her beauty takes your breath away. So thoroughly far from the world (no roads there), with crystal-clear waters even inside the harbour, with a deafening silence and solitude becoming, if you don’t keep cool, even oppressive.
Megisti is also a harsh place. The island passed through a period of Italian occupation in the first half of 20th century, and had a really tragic recent history during the World War II due to the bombing and violence which almost totally destroyed Megisti and compelled almost all the inhabitants to disperse over the world (mainly in the U.S. and in Australia). The island has been so frozen for over 50 years in a tragic photograph of destruction (I remember that 10 years ago there still were destroyed houses, and a big bomb neglected for over 50 years on the beach of Ag. Paraskevi).
The success of Mediterraneo over the ocean is helping the island to revive, and the old inhabitants (by now, unfortunately, only their descendants) are discovering again the pride of their roots in Kastelorizo, and are recovering their properties. The aged former inhabitants back in Megisti are even recovering in health – facing the complete incredulity of their sons (weeping), in strength and in the desire of leaving and taking a bath as they used to when they were children. As if they were in a strangely real Cocoon. I myself witnessed some cases.
Kastelorizo even succeeded in inspiring me, who don’t write poetry since my puberty years, but, in one afternoon, I wrote this…
The Breath of Kastelorizo (Maurizio Molinari)
Kastelorizo, a lung of 9 Km2 of rock in the Aegean Sea
for wars and destructions in ‘900
has tragically expired centuries of houses, folks, histories and expectations
towards spots far in the world.
XXI century, Kastelorizo inspires again
molecules of oxygen of Peace, of Europe, of Gabriele, of David, of Global Village
which swell alveoli of coloured houses, of folks, of communities
and wake up pride of belonging
to mark with paint on the ruins of this harsh rock dispersed into the sea
A paradise for those who already have a place in the world
but greedy deadly abyss for those who got lost
understanding not that sons, love and works kill the death.
Does Kastelorizo have strategic importance: none, yet?
There are two examples of administration which really stroke me positively for their far-sight, and that I will tell you in the next days because, why not?, there could arise a nice idea (a twinning):
– The Territorial Government Plan (T.G.P.)
– The Bakery
P.S. – Should Diego Abbatantuono (Nicola Lorusso in the film Mediterraneo) read this post, be aware that Chico is still waiting for you, as you promised to go back and visit him, but you never did!
Chico is a nice old-man of Kastelorizo. He is the “landmark” on the island for those who go there to see the places where Mediterraneo was made. He speaks something of Italian since, when he was a child, he attended the Italian school during the occupation, and has pleasant recollections of Italians. You can see him in the movie, in the scene of the dance, when the soldiers get into the village. Chico still leaves with the memory of those days when the movie was made, days of excitement, life and gaiety.
You can find him in the place over the village, halfway to Ag. Paraskevi; I suggest you to stop and have something at his restaurant, maybe it looks not so attractive, and it is quite bare, but the cooking is good and traditional, the prices good. I recommend you to enjoy your dishes with retsina Malamatina. 😉