The Valley of Frido

Nestled within the heart of the Pollino National Park, the Valley of Frido boasts a rich and varied vegetation and is intersected, for its entire length, with the river Frido and its tributaries.
Gentle slopes and lush valleys unfold from the river sources to the valley. The five giants of the Pollino mountain chain dominate the valley, marking the border between Calabria and Basilicata regions. Wide areas and landscapes of bewitching beauty stretch as far as the eye can see.
Going up the valley, after Bosco Magnano wood, at 900 m asl and in a central location with beautiful views, there is the village of San Severino Lucano.
In the past, this territory belonged to the feud of San Severino, which gives it its name. The first inhabited centre was built around the 15th century thanks to the expansion of agricultural colonisation carried out by the Abbey of Saggittario. In 1806, the village of San Severino, which until then formed part of Chiaromonte’s territory, became a Municipality, following the new Napoleonic organisation; in 1820 the adjective “Lucano” (from Lucania, the ancient name of Basilicata region) was added to the name. After the Italian Unification (1860), brigandage was a widespread phenomenon in the surroundings of the village, as it was favoured, as in the entire Pollino area, by the presence of inaccessible mountains, and the lack of infrastructures and roads. Numerous place names indicate this phenomenon (for example, the “Fosso del Brigante”, which literally means the ‘hole of the brigand’), but above all the historical figure of Captain Iannarelli is recalled, as he committed bloody massacres and executions, even of civilians. Extensive remains about his life are still kept today: his house in the village and the mill/sawmill located in Mezzana. Due to its recent history, the centre of San Severino doesn’t have places of architectural interest, except for the Abbey of Saggitario, near Chiaromonte. The urban layout of the historical centre, which developed spontaneously, mostly includes terraced housing on the main street. The main church, dedicated to Maria SS. degli Angeli, and probably dating back to the first inhabited centre, lies in the town centre and maintains its eighteenth-century layout.
The church of San Vincenzo stands on the upper part of the village. The church, in particular the façade, keep their original structure; inside there is a wooden crucifix of the 6th century. Walking around the town centre, you can see beautiful stone portals, dating back to the second half of the 19th century, and buildings of the same period, as well as the typical alleys that characterise all mountain villages. The three fountains, located in the lower part of the village, are also worth a visit. The area boasts beautiful natural landscapes and industrial heritage sites, such as the mills. The views of Bosco Magnano wood from the Valley of the Sinni, and the Peschiera and Frido streams, are breathtaking.
Circular paths: game, memory, places.
The Pollino National Park is rich in charming places, stretching to the horizon, where back memories can be retraced.
The itinerary we want to create goes from the circular movement of the millstones, once very popular in this area, to the circular movement of the RB Ride carousel, made by the artist Carsten Höller and reminding of playful games.
The artwork is particularly fascinating because it was spontaneously and unconsciously placed, by the artist, in an area with very special value for its inhabitants, as it’s linked to a sad story occurred to some kids in the 1940s.
The landscape, together with the strength of memory and the power of emotions, will always be of great charm for all visitors. The itinerary links the contemporary artwork to the actual locations and their inhabitants, transposing everything into a metaphorical story using game, moments of levity, joy and movement. The installation finds a connection with the history of that place, offering the possibility of experiencing simultaneously what seems to be in contrast to each other: sky and ground, joy and sorrow.
The itinerary starts in Cropani, a tiny hamlet of San Severino Lucano and heads towards the Fasanelli mill, located where the Peschiera stream converges into the Frido river, downstream of the ruins of “Saggittario”, an ancient monastery founded by the Cistercians in 1270.
The journey continues with a visit to the Cornalonga Mill, once also used as a fulling mill and silk mill, and with the Magnacane Mill, near Viggianello.
The main feature of the itinerary is its circularity, which recalls the movement of mill wheels, and the opposition (closed-open) between the landscapes that unfold before the eyes of the travellers entering the enchanting scenery of Bosco Magnano wood, with its mysterious rocky monuments dug out by the water. The wood is a dreamy landscape where the sky ends and the ground begins, and where dark and light, silence and noise, merge into one. This place has always been home to quiet and almost invisible otters.
Beautiful natural landscapes make way for a dfferent set of surroundings: we are in the municipality of San Severino Lucano.
Then, the itinerary reaches Visciglie, in the upper part of San Severino Lucano, offering views on a well-maintained oak forest. The trail goes uphill, through a reforestation area, leading to Timpa della Guardia (1,1169 m), a plateau offering, during the whole journey, spectacular views from the Valley of Frido to Mount Pollino (2,248 m), up to Montecotugno Dam. At the end of the trail, travellers frequently see squirrels, with black fur and white underside, climbing on ancient conifers.
The end of this wonderful journey through nature and memory in the Pollino National Park is the visit to the Timpa della Guardia, where the RB Ride installation by Carsten Höller is located. The landscape here is surreal and characterised by the circularity of the carousel’s movement, placed in such a way to offer visitors opposite views: thick woods and panoramic view points, suggesting an alternation of opposing moods, from joy and wonder to introspective moments.