“Il segno che caratterizza l’uomo di Sant’Agata è l’arte. Penso un gene che emerge (e senza interruzioni) dal fondo greco della nostra cultura.” -Giuseppe Melina
[The defining trait of St. Agatha’s people is art. I believe it is a gene that emerges from the Greek background of our culture.]
This story begins along the so-called Jasmine Coast and about 10 kilometers from the Ionian Sea, the same from which the Greek, bearers of culture and art, came. Here it lies a beauty waiting to be discovered: a town on the slopes of Aspromonte that has made culture and art a project of regeneration. In a bucolic corner of the municipality of Sant’Agata is to be found a charming sculpture carved in the stone by the skilled hand of a Calabrian artist and inspired by an intriguing myth.
Legend has it that two mermaids unleashed the fury of Poseidon by rescuing a maiden whom the god wanted to kidnap. Intent on escaping his wrath, after ascending the “La Verde River”, they decided to take refuge in the “Gardens of Campolico”, where no one could find them. Having arrived exhausted in front of a millstone carved out of the rock and in search of refreshment, they only made it in time to brush against the water that they fell asleep from exhaustion and, as death seemed to have taken over their eyes, a benevolent god turned them into stone statues to remember, in eternity, their sacrifice for humankind.
This legend has taken shape in the sculpture “Sirene Dormienti” (Sleeping Mermaids) created by artist Vincenzo Baldassarre, which stands right next to an ancient millstone. As one observes it, the detail of the hand of one of the two mermaids, plunging into a small pond of water to emphasize the need for refreshment mentioned in the legend, remains imprinted.
Sleeping Mermaids is not the only sculpture that bears the signature of Vincenzo Baldassarre. He is in fact one of the artists representing Sant’Agata del Bianco, renamed the village of art, and proud creator of dozens of art works. As a child he learned the secrets of woodcarving from his father, but today Vincenzo carves rock and with his hammer and chisel he is capable of bringing out fascinating figures.
Photo Credits: Angelo Cavallaro
Author: Francesca Politi – JUMP Team