The Second Life of Rocca Calascio

I have visited for the first time  Rocca Calascio at the end of March. The weather was rainy and the place had a rather gloomy look. When we entered the tiny ancient borough of Rocca Calascio it seemed all abandoned. Suddenly I’ve noticed a signboard on one of the buildings. It was definitely a restaurant! When entering the restaurant, we were very much surprised. We didn’t expect to find ourselves in such a lovely place. The interior was made in traditional style with white walls and dark wooden ceiling. There were simple wooden tables and chairs. At the bar, there was standing a man who didn’t look at all as a barman. He greeted us very cordially and was so kind to accompany us around the borough. Paolo told us that the place has been slowly reviving due to the activity of the “Operatori del Gran Sasso d’Italia”.

Paolo led us to a building which appeared to be a small concert hall. And what a surprise! There were musicians playing Mozart. It was the ensemble “Officina Musicale”  from L’Aquila directed by maestro Orazio Tuccella. After the devastating earthquake of 2009 which had ruined L’Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, the orchestra has moved to Santo Stefano di Sessanio. The day before they gave a concert at Rocca Calascio.

After the visit to Rocca Calascio I have found in the Internet a story about the revival of the borough. In fact it is a very fascinating story about a couple of pragmatic romantics or vice versa. Paolo and Susan Baldi had literally fallen in love with this magnificent place and in 1994 they bought a ruined house and moved there. Susan and Paolo have brought life to Rocca Calascio in all senses, because their children were born in the ancient borough. Since 1994 they have been gradually restoring house after house. They have already opened a restaurant and a small hotel “Rifugio della Rocca”. All the chambers are situated in separate houses and are beautifully furnished. But the Baldi’s plans go even further. They want to develop here not only a thriving tourist center but a sort of cultural and spiritual oasis. Warm and friendly relationship with the “Officina Musicale” perfectly suits this end.

We visited Rocca Calascio again on July 28th. Ancient ruins were covered with flowers and looked as peaceful decorations to a fairy tale. Paolo had invited us to a general rehearsal of the orchestra. He and maestro Tuccella greeted us as old friends. The concert was magnificent. The orchestra played Mozart’s Divertissements KV 247 and 334. The small concert hall with solid wooden ceiling had a perfect acoustics and the powerful music sounded with great optimism. Maestro Tuccella told us that when they perform in L’Aquila they have to play in a tent. In fact they have become a sort of strolling musicians as in the Middle Ages.

We left Rocca Calascio when the twilight was veiling the castle and the mountains. The music was still sounding in our souls and we were under the great impression made by strong personalities of Paolo Baldi and Orazio Tuccella. They just do things they love best of all and don’t think at all that they are the real protogonists.

You can watch the slide-show about the Rocca Calascio here.


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