If you have ever been to Reggio Calabria, even just once in your life, you will have seen the Calopinace torrent passing through the city. This grand avenue of water and concrete has solved many problems for the roadways and urbanisation of Reggio. As with many others, “Calopinace” is an Italian adaptation of a Greek word, Calos pinàke, which translates literally to “beautiful view”. That being said, is Calopinace really the” beautiful view”? Many would disagree. So why is it named so? The torrent, also named “Fiumara della Cartiera” occupies the catchment area of the ancient river Apsias where according to myth and legend, the Greeks landed in the 8th century A.C and founded our Reggio. Things have changed though since then, and what once was a fully navigable body of water is now just a trickle of water.
Now, taking a step back in time, we find something a bit intriguing. Before a destructive earthquake hit the city in October of 1562, the mouth of the torrent actually stood further north of where it is now, practically neighbouring the current Villa Comunale in a more central city position. The earthquake shifted the direction of the torrent, completely revolutionising the city. That being said, the earthquake that hit was devastating to the previous layout of the city and completely engulfed the previous point of Calamizzi (what remains of Calamizzi is now restricted to the beaches a little further south at Viale Aldo Moro) where once the mouth of the torrent lay. The body of water Calopinace was once a very large area home to much Regginian history. It was the site of the anciet pre-Greek settlement of Ausoni, and also a site of a temple dedicated to the Greek Artemis Fascelide. All lost to the ocean due to this fatal natural disaster.
Once praised for its beauty, specifically by the Greek historian Thucydides, Reggio and its Calopinace were the “acroterion of Italy” (a decorative ornament mounted at the apex of a building). It was the summit of a temple of decoration and prestige, immortalised by the author in a phrase that summed up the beauty, grace and grandeur of the area as the “temple of Italy”. After this description, its Greek routed name of Calos pinàke seems justified and clearly it was a “beautiful view” to behold. Can we be talking about the same Calopinace? Today we see a much altered view of our torrent, albeit a well functioning and useful avenue for excess water to escape. Still loved, our Calopinace.