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The Frana—December 1963

In December 1963 one of the most destructive episodes of Craco’s frana event occurred.  Contemporary newspaper articles give us an understanding of the events.  

The first article appearing on December 7th raises concern with two-thirds of the town being impacted and states: “the situation remains grave …”

December 8th found the following report: “…The landslide…moves slowly …and covers ten acres of land…The houses involved in this area are a hundred. Twenty-five are at risk, so that the mayor has already issued the first evacuation orders…The town is situated…on gravel and clay. It has a population of just over 1700 inhabitants divided into 380 families.” 

Then on December 11th the news turned worse: “a dense rain, falling for more than twenty-four hours…the landslide movement…was further exacerbated…The landslide affecting the village has extended to other buildings, so much so that some owners of houses on DeCesare and Alighieri streets reported injuries to their buildings…Craco is on the list of towns to be consolidated at the expense of the state. Approximately eighty percent of the buildings have damages.”  

It continued the next day on December 12th: “The rainfall has increased the concerns…the landslide has abruptly moved further…damaged homes increase and orders for evacuation of about forty were issued…It is a painful spectacle: the household goods are transported…from homes… Even those who still have a house in good condition, do not hide their fears.”

On  December 16th harsh conditions continued to be reported: “Violent gusts of wind…Craco remained in the dark due to failure of the electricity grid…two more orders for eviction were issued for homes at risk.”

The December 21st articles provide: “Christmas is coming. The people, however, are sad and worried about the serious threat of landslides…Craco residents live in a day by day state of panic…” 

Then on December 30th: “News that instead of dissipating fears…has increased. In essence, the landslides are of two different intensities. The first and largest includes the southern facing center of the town and the other is slower but no less worrying. The hopes of a temporary containment are in the large arched wall built along Route 103, which almost surrounds the town. The wall although solid, has a central bulge…and would lead to landslides of significant quantities, the destruction of many homes…The situation…to safeguard public safety…raises many moral and economic problems of considerable scope: Can a small town of 1700 people be evacuated? What would remain of the old town? Absolutely nothing. Then there are serious apprehensions of the owners of houses (cost and the sacrifices of generations), who see their property at risk and do not know if they have adequate compensation or urgent rehabilitation works envisaged by authorities…”

We know the subsequent events and results but also recognize that even after all these years there is a resilient spirit to somehow bring Craco Vecchio a rebirth.

This article was originally published in The Craco Society Newsletter, July 2009.

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