Isola di Capo Rizzuto

Capo Rizzuto

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It was probably in this locality that colonies were first established in the Isola territory, seeing that there have been discoveries yielding considerable evidence of the Neolithic period (4000 B.C.), and numerous tombs some excavated in the rock. Almost certainly, the Japigi, who gave the name Promontorium Japigium to the small peninsulas which jut out into the sea, built the first and oldest town whose inhabitants then founded Isola C.R. The ancient inhabitants of Capo Rizzuto built various edifices, some of which were devoted to the cult of pagan gods. With the advent of Christianity one of these became dedicated to the 'Madonna del Faro' which became a substitute for the pagan god who had been a protector of sailors. This has been recorded, since, around 1100A.D., the first bishop of Isola led the population in a pilgrimage to this temple to pray for the end of a long drought. Every year, on the first Monday in May and on the fifth of August, a mock pilgrimage is performed with the participation of the whole populace, re-enacting the ancient rites together with new forms of festivity during the course of the sacred rituals dedicated to the Madonna Greca. After the reconstruction of the church in the first years of the century 700 A.D., in fact, the temple was dedicated to the Madonna Greca in substitution for the Madonna del Faro. The anchorage to the right of the Capo Rizzuto was used by sailors to protect ships from rough seas when bad weather conditions made it impossible to negotiate the Cape which, away from the coast, is crossed with very treacherous sea currents. Even today ships still stop there for the same reasons. In ancient times too a commercial port must have existed as, a short distance from the shore, ruins of walls, the remains of manufactured items and shards of terracotta have been identified, testifying to its frequent and habitual use. In 1575, in order to defend the coast, a defensive tower was built, the Torre Vecchia, so named to distinguish it from another of a slightly more recent construction, the Torre Nuova or Fortino or Torre delle Guardie which was used by the customs officials as a major barracks and now, following suitable reconstruction, as a holiday home for their dependants. Capo Rizzuto is now a well known tourist centre, especially appreciated by families and nature lovers. It provides comfortable hotels, camping sites, holiday houses and the many services needed for an unforgettable vacation.

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