By Antonio Simone




Sede c/o Casa della Cultura “G. Cingari”

Via Garibaldi - 89047 Roccella Jonica (RC)

Facebook: Associazione culturale Roccella com’era

Since ancient times, water was, and still is, a precious precious asset for the survival of man and living beings.

It was not for nothing that the first civilizations were formed along rivers or in areas with a strong presence of water. In the modern era several national laws were enacted for the protection of public health through the supply of drinking water and other sanitation also with the financial support of the government. I only mention the Crispi-Pagliani health law of 1888, in which art. 44 obliged the Municipalities to acquire drinking water recognized as pure and of good quality.

In the past, a civilized country also identified itself with the ability of its administrators to know how to provide the primary service of water supply to the entire population and to ensure daily water for the food needs and personal hygiene.

It is this performance at Roccella Jonica that we want to retrace a brief summary this evening, given the vastness and laboriousness of the events that have accompanied the administrators of our country for half a century.

Let's start by taking a step back.

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Roccella, in spite of himself, rose paradoxically on the sandstone cliff in the most inhospitable site of the district due to the total absence of a source of water supply. Since its inception, it has somehow made up for this shortage, with a system of channeling rainwater channeled and discharged into the various specially dug wells, starting with that of the Palazzo Carafa. However, this reserve used for daily use lacked potability requirements. There is documentary information from the early 17th century which attests that the Pigadi spring was the fontem pubblicum de la Roccella (photo 1), which we find, as we know, about a kilometer from the old city, upstream.

In this regard, a curiosity from the time of CM Carafa, in his orders for the good administration of Roccella, imposed that the water that flows from the Pigade on the Sabbath day, for each week, of Sun in Sun cannot be prevented from its course , nor take care of garden owners, but let yourself be free to flow for the convenience of citizens, for washing, and for other uses ...

The population growth of Roccella at the beginning of the eighteenth century and the impossibility of spaces for new constructions on the old city favored the birth of the various districts that arose around the fortress.

For the daily requirement of water, the population used the various springs that gushed in our districts, the inhabitants of the districts of Sant'Antonio and Zirgone supplied water from the Cafone source and those who lived in the upper part of the country from the Pigadi, Millarini springs. (Millarni or Mijarni, say as he wishes) and Ciurria, the latter falling under municipal ownership.

The inhabitants of the Marina district were the most penalized given the enormous distance from the sources mentioned above; to alleviate this discomfort the traditional long-suffering of Casa Carafa, as it was written in a document, allowed this community to arbitrarily use the precious liquid of a well of spring water (for us sena) that was in their Misostrico fund.

On December 22, 1811, on the occasion of the sharing of some funds between the Casa Carafa and the Municipality of Roccella, the distribution agent verbalized, among other things, the Municipality's right to use this well, although with the passing of the time was used less and less, until with the cholera epidemic that hit Roccella in 1887 the use of this water was forbidden because it was harmful to public health.

With the construction of the Jonica Railway and the choice of Roccella as head of the log, the Railway Company bound our municipality to supply the building of the Station with the water needed to supply the transiting tractors with water.

After an initial agreement in question, the municipal administrators of Roccella took action to give certainty to this commitment, motivated by not losing all those privileges conveyed by this choice, such as: the expansion of the station building, the construction of first and second class aspects of goods storage, traveling staff storage and building houses for railway workers.

It is necessary to wait for April 2, 1879 to begin in this regard, when the City Council led by the Mayor Giuseppe Maria Cappelleri decided to carry out, as soon as possible, a loan of £ 10,000 for the pipeline work of the waters of the Ciurria source up to the Station. Railway.

In the meantime, the thought of using the same water supply to supply the Borgo district, the most densely populated one, and the Marina district the most disadvantaged, matured.

In the meeting of 22 September following the Council, since predictably the Ciurria spring alone was not enough to supply the railway station and the two aforementioned districts with water, it also agreed to use the Millarini spring to reinforce its flow and thus resolve an old need to supply part of the population with drinking water and avoid the inconvenience of being away from the springs and the difficulties of traveling on precarious roads full of ravines.

At that meeting, the Board authorized the Mayor Cappelleri to withdraw, in all promptness, the pipeline project entrusted to the Engineer Carmelo Tommasini of Reggio Calabria to be, by law, submitted for approval, reserving in its time to provide for the new entity of spending and withdrawing the £ 10,000 loan request because not enough. At a meeting a week later it was decided to raise the mortgage to £ 20,000.

Meanwhile the main project drawn up, as mentioned, by Eng. Tommasini and approved by the competent authorities, was tendered for its execution to the Galopin Due and C Company. At the board meeting of March 8, 1881, the Mayor Cappelleri informed the various members that in the term of 5 months the much desired waters must function the use for which they are intended; moreover, care was taken to draw up between the Municipality and the Italian Company for the southern railway tracks a nine-point agreement that required both parties to respect the agreement. I only mention that the Municipality undertook to supply 40 cubic meters. of water a day starting no later than 30 August 1881, in order not to risk a very high penalty.

On the following 12 April the Council approved the payment of the building land economically expropriated to Mr. Raffaele Congiusta was Domenico Pappalo, in the Borgo district for the construction of the Fountain, along via Progresso. Given the technical expertise made by the appointee Domenico Reggio, it was Joshua who agreed unanimously to pay the expropriated land for £ 595.21 considering that the Congiusta, having regard to public utility, did not intend to object to the price (photo 2).

The said fountain was completed in September '81 by the same company executing the pipeline Galopin.

In the same session, to advise on April 12, 1881, it was decided to give the Municipal Council the faculty to have a project for the construction of a Monumental fountain on the open space lying north of Piazza S. Vittorio at the expense of £ 4,000.

Two meetings were necessary, on 7 and 13 January 1882, to discuss the resolution of the problem of Millarini waters to be added to those of Ciurria to supply beyond the railway station also the Fontana Borgo now ready and that the citizens of the populous district claimed water. The problem was that the aforementioned Millarini spring was in the bottom of D. Nicola Bottari and son Vincenzo and no good-natured negotiation of accommodation for the transfer of the water was possible due to the exaggerated pretensions of the owners.

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In the end the Council deliberated for a forced expropriation of this source and of the land necessary for the connection with the Ciurria pipeline.

Two other meetings, 4 and 15 April 1882, were dedicated to the project and approval of the construction of the Monumental Fountain at the Marina.

The project was drawn up by the architect Vincenzo Gallucci and approved by the Council on March 23 of that year. A few days later, its manufacture was authorized by the prefect. For its realization it proceeded by private tender delegating art experts since the Fountain is all artistic with granite and marble pieces. (photo 3) During the same period, all the water pipeline work was completed and the Galopin company claimed the total amount of the work of £ 29201, including indemnities and different fees, much higher than the initial contractual figure. The matter with some regrettable aftermath resolved the following year with a tacit agreement on the amount of £ 24500. It came to 1884 and the resolution of the Bottari di Millarini spring still remained standing, which needed the urgent connection to the town's pipeline as the water from the Ciurria spring was just enough for the railway tank and the Borgo and Marina fountains, now active, remained dry in the summer months.

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On May 26, 1884 a drastic decision was taken: to definitively abandon the Bottari source also to avoid high costs due to the excavation of necessary tunnels in order to be able to connect to the existing pipeline. It was therefore decided to purchase the waters of the springs of the same Millarini district, falling into the property of Giuseppe Maria Bova fu Nicola and in the Pacicca Antonino was Vincenzo for the figures of £ 1800 and £ 1510 respectively.

The works of the pipeline of these waters and the sewage work were assigned and carried out by Nicola Ursino's company and completed at the end of 1886.

It did not take long to realize that the new connection from the Millarini spring would not have dealt the decisive blow to the long-standing problem: to supply the two fountains with sufficient water for an increasingly growing population.

The frequent Board meetings of 1887, 1888 and part of 1889 always presented the first point of the Odg. the question of a new water pipeline for Roccella. We are at the time of the Mayor Antonio De Angelis and a large group of advisors who took this problem to heart by giving each his own proposal and active collaboration.

I will try to summarize the solution hypotheses that emerged in the various board discussions.

A first opinion was to contact the Water Pipeline Company based in Rome, to have one of its engineers come to Roccella to verify the quality and quantity of water from all our springs.

The said company sent to Roccella for an inspection and for the relevant findings, Eng. Giuseppe Boccia who was accompanied by a Visiting Commission of councilors of which Eng. Agronomist Filocamo Giuseppe, always very active and responsible, Minici Francesco, Hyeraci Nicola and Minici Luigi. Various solutions have been advanced: we thought of the Salice spring initially discarded due to the significant expense of the pipeline given the distance, Pigadi was chosen but it was necessary to improve the quality of the water, the discourse of the Bottari source was resumed, interrupted years earlier, which at the time it was the cheapest compared to the others. In the end the vote on the hypothesis Willow entrusted to the said Roman Society and Eng. Bocci to draw up a project to be submitted for evaluation by our Municipality.

In the extraordinary meeting of 19 April 1889 for the resolution of the water supply, it was decided to follow the shortest route with an immediate effect given the urgency for the approaching summer season and the presence, even then, of tourists who chose our country: to approve the purchase and expropriation of the source of Nicola and Vincenzo Bottari di Millarini, encouraged by the good outcome of the analyzes carried out by the Chemist Pharmacist Filippo Cuppari.

But the choice was not easy to carry out as the technical times for drafting the Eng. Gustavo Zannoro, delegated by the Minister of the Interior to whom it was addressed, and the approval of the Civil Engineering took three years. On August 16, 1892 it was entrusted to the Nicola Ursino company for the construction of the connection for the amount of £ 2681.

It should be noted that three years earlier, in the session of 13 August 1889, the source of the fennel was mentioned for the first time. In that meeting, the Mayor Antonio De Angelis reported what was suggested by the Municipal Council, that is, whether or not it was appropriate to have a project drawn up for the water pipeline of this source. Animated and participated was the consequent discussion where the prospect of an impressive expense emerged given the distance of this source and the large sacrifice that would have fallen on the population.

Nobody believed that with the last connection Millarini would solve the problem of great thirst. The situation continued for a few more years without finding the definitive solution.

In those years we were convinced that there was an urgent need for a project that would bring a large amount of water into the country with the prospect that it would be enough for a few decades in proportion to population growth.

In 1896 we wanted to give a strong signal to the solution of the problem by having an employee of the Scientific Laboratory of Public Health of Rome come to Roccella to take and analyze water samples from the Fennel and Willow springs.

The results confirmed that the waters of the aforementioned sources were chemically drinkable and it was decided to entrust the task to an engineer to make a project for the pipeline of both sources.

Meanwhile the attention of the administrators moved to solve the water problem of the districts of S. Antonio and Zirgone penalized for the difficulty of obtaining water from the Cafone source. Between the project, approval, concession and testing, it took three years for citizens of the two neighborhoods to benefit from water from a more convenient and closer source. £ 3576.33 was spent on the latter.

Finally all good intentions were put aside, the meeting was held on March 15, 1900 to resolve to entrust Eng. Antonino Pucci in charge of formulating the project for the Salice and Caria water pipeline.

With the election as Mayor of dr. Bottari Cav. Vincenzo took a turn to solving the country's biggest problem: the supply of sufficient water.

The Mayor took the matter to heart and assumed responsibility for every suggestion and decision to enslave an apparently unsolvable situation that could only be overcome with a courageous, drastic and in some ways unpopular decision.

From the meetings of 9 and 17 August 1901 the uselessness of the Salice source project emerged as with its 100 cubic meters per day it solved the problem of only a thousand inhabitants. The interventions of the various councilors were thus directed to the support of the Finocchio spring, the only one that offered the needs of an entire community and gave the opportunity for development for the country with openings of commercial and industrial activities.

The Salice project was definitively revoked, the Mayor Bottari convinced himself to contact the Government of the King to entrust him with a specialist Engineer of the Central Health Inspectorate with the aim of drawing up the project and saving a good sum for its compilation by limiting himself to travel expenses from Rome and the employee's overnight stay.

In the following meeting the Board was commissioned to provide for the first necessary expenses for the Fennel project without aggravating the taxpayers with higher taxes. It was decided to set up the parking fee for animals that stayed in our town during the fairs, which came from all over Calabria and Sicily. In addition, two drinking troughs were provided in the fairground to eliminate the abusive sellers of water for the animals. The parking fee was distributed as follows: Ox, Cow, calf, horse, mule £ 0.50; donkey £ 0.30; pig, billy goat, sheep, goat, sheep £ 0.10.

We have to wait until 1904 and 1905 to see the Fennel project overcome the bureaucratic process between the Municipality, sub-prefecture and Civil Engineering with the usual changes and various approvals. The total planned expenditure was £ 280,000, although in the end it exceeded £ 340.00, which the Municipality took care to approve. For such an exorbitant amount, a loan was negotiated with the DD bank. And PP. repaying this loan in N ° 50 annuities inclusive of capital and related interest to climb, which corresponded to £ 6410.22 per year. For the payment of this amount, a proportionate surcharge was applied to owners of land and buildings lasting 50 years.

On April 30, 1907, the contract for the pipeline was approved with a private tender. The choice was made by the Roman Society of Conduits which declared itself available for the execution of the conduct. Subsequently, the tank project was approved, which also underwent various modifications, lastly, that of the construction of two cylindrical tanks with a capacity of 300 cubic meters each.

At the board meeting of 18 March 1909, for the distribution of water in the country, it was approved to install fountains in the following locations: Vallone Arena sup., Vallone Arena inf., Sant'Antonio district at the railway bridge, Carrubaro district and a fountain at the station. It was also believed that there were no drinking troughs in the town, and it was proposed to plant them with a fountain: S. Giuseppe district (photo 4), Piazzale Cannolaro, Piazzale Dogana (photo 5) and a drinking trough at the fairground.

For their commissioning, it is necessary to wait a few more years.

Over the following decades, the supply of fennel water in private homes was gradually followed up.

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