Thirty years ago died Leonida Repaci, an eminent personality of Italian culture, even though in a way the important legacy he left us makes him live a second life today. He was a journalist, writer and essayist, but forcing any label on him would be like belittling the work of a volcanic protagonist of the cultural landscape in 20th century Italy.
There is a place which had a strong influence on his existence, a place which exudes a feeling of peace and primordial energy at the same time. This magical place, the Pietrosa (the Rocky Side) is located in Palmi, Leonida Repaci’s birth town. The eclectic artist nurtured an overwhelming love for this town in the province of Reggio Calabria, and particularly for the Pietrosa , to such an extent that his last wish was to be laid to rest in a particular spot of that site, not far from his house.
This house, together with most of his property, was donated by him to the town of Palmi, with the intention to foster the promotion of what he considered to be a real treasure, endowed with the power to stimulate the mind and arouse the senses; such was his opinion of the Pietrosa, objectively shared by whomever has had the possibility to visit it and come to regard it as a sort of paradise on earth. After Repaci’s death however, the house quickly fell into disrepair, as it was abandoned, neglected and ransacked, and nature took possession of it until a few years ago when, thanks to funding from the Regional Administration, it was made usable again; there was no restoration of the already existing structure, but rather its rebuilding from scratch. The underlying intention was to make the house into a regional observation post of the landscape. Putting aside the issue of the long-term employment of this structure, the association “Amici Casa della Cultura Repaci”, which has tended to it for a little more than three years now, has been using it to host events of paramount cultural value: readings and performances of works of literature, painting exhibitions, projections of film clips of historical interest, school visits and open-air concerts set against the backdrop of the mesmerizing landscape which only the Pietrosa can offer. There is a certain spot which gives the impression to visitors of standing on the prow of a huge ship; looking downwards from there, one immediately notices the hard rocks and many boulders which skirt the location, earning it the name of Pietrosa. It is right in that natural booth that Leonida Repaci spent many of his hours, often in the company of his beloved wife Albertina or with some of his friends. When he was not travelling around the world, Repaci used that place as a source of invaluable inspiration for his writing.
“La storia dei Rupe” (History of the Rupe Brothers), by far his most celebrated saga, undoubtedly benefitted from it. Indeed, the Pietrosa still manages to conjure up the artistic aura of Leonida Repaci thirty years after his death. Its donation to his beloved town constitutes a priceless heritage, material as well as intellectual.