The only salvation for the men and women of this contradictory, chaotic twenty-first century is to surround themselves with beauty, to abandon themselves to a beneficial, reassuring Stendhal syndrome without heart palpitations, dizziness and hallucinations of course but full of a satisfied sense of peace that reconciles them with the world. Where to find it?
Without any doubt in Gerace, the "Village of the Sparrowhawk" as it is called for having offered refuge in the tenth century BC to the inhabitants of nearby Locri who took refuge amongst its secluded security and heights to escape the raids of the Saracens. To guide them to salvation was, in fact, a simple ‘sparrowhawk.’
In greek, the “jerax” is a strong bird of prey, with a sharp gaze, able to fly for a long time quickly and without getting tired. It stands out in the coat of arms of the Municipality of Gerace and it is nice to think that Ruggero the Norman, certainly skilled in the art of falconry - hunting practice very common in the Middle Ages - was the protagonist of the hunting in Gerace. I would like to imagine him at the head of the procession of knights crossing standing fiercely with lovely ladies who were adorned with jewels and elegantly combed hair whom stood and there admiring him.
And so, yes, "We are all Ruggero" and as his convinced admirers we want him as a Master and Virgil in the discovery of Gerace also known - in addition to the names already mentioned - as the "Little Florence of the South", the"Sacred City", "Jerusalem of the Ionian" or “The City of a Hundred Churches”.
There are many definitions and all of them are correct. Perfect to tell of a place that is filled with surprises and with the traces of its millenary, multiform presences such as the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Aragonese - and surrounded by nature that changes not only according to the seasons but almost hour by hour, merging with the green of Aspromonte National Park, with the blue of the Ionian sea and the sky and with the many shades of gray given by the slow flow of time, to the portals and windows of the noble buildings. It will be him the Great Count Ruggero and King of Sicily to accompany tourists, welcome guests, in their journey to discover the artistic and monumental heritage,of nature, its food and wine, and of course its folk traditions.
And faithful to his motto: "Dextera Domini fecitivirtutem, dextera Domini extaltavit me" that is "The right hand of the Lord has done wonders, the right hand of the Lord has given me strength" and his beloved subjects will always feel him close. One and then the others, together, will find him in the streets, in the monumental civil and religious buildings, in the refined hospitality but without useless frills, in the sweet and delicate dishes. And in the scent of cyclamens that suddenly invades and transports them to another world. Gerace: eterna malia (Gerace: eternally enchanting).