Cicero calls on Reggio

ciceroneCicero. You may Have studied about him at school, of him being a pillar of politics, a genius of Latin literature and a culturally and ideologically influential man. What was not included in your studies, was that at one stage in his life, he spent a night in Lazarro, suburb of Motta San Giovanni (RC).

Taking you back to 43 A.C., a year after the death of Caesar: Rome is in complete uproar and confusion and Cicero decides to go on a casual trip to Greece, so as to avoid the turmoil that is Rome. For political reasons, the normal route to Greece via Brindisi and the Adriatic is too dangerous, so Cicero decides on the alternate course via Syracuse. Cicero loves Syracuse, but decides before he arrives there to not overstay his welcome, be discovered and in turn, most likely be decapitated. The strong winds of the Strait have another idea though, sweeping him to the Greek port town of Leucopetra, today’s Lazzaro (RC). Luckily, Cicero had a close friend named Publius Valerius who lived in Lazzaro, and  gave him refuge, hosting the fugitive in his house. The next day, Cicero travels incognito to Reggio in hopes to hear of news concerning Rome. He learns of a speech given by Marco Antonio honouring the late Caesar, and that things have calmed in the capitol. Upon hearing this, he decides to return to his beloved and chaotic Roma.

At first this story seems a bit far-fetched, with very few certainties that Cicero actually came to Reggio. But, since the excavations at the ancient site of Leucopetra started in 1995, the Village and undoubtedly the Villa where Cicero actually stayed match the description in the tale. Furnaces and even an ancient necropolis have been discovered.

To know that a figure of his caliber stayed in Reggio is really quite amazing, and could almost make the great descendants of ancient Reggio part of the story of which Cicero called his “magistra vitae”, where history is life’s teacher, taken from his “De Oratore”.