This section gather texts, articles, stories and customs
of the Caulonian traditions



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Have you ever heard about the “semplici” (literally, the “simples”)? Not the gentle and good souls which many would like to describe as simpletons or worse; but the herbaceous and arboreal sources which have medicinal and curative properties?…
It is worth knowing about them if you consider that even Achilles, back then, according to what we read, used to heal his soldier’s wounds with the “Achillea milleforum” juice, a mixture which took its name from him…
If you have any vague notion of the Latin language, it would suffice to reflect a moment on the meaning of “Salvia salvatrix”, as the Salernitana school called the well known plant used since the middle ages by the monks who cured the sick by creating a decoction mixed with vinegar which gave immunity to a kind of illness. Another well known remedy was that known as “Celidonia” (coeli donum, a gift from heaven), the yellow lattice from a kind of poppy which Peracelso used for biliary conditions – following his theory of “similia cum similibus” …

certainly you already know that rheumatic conditions and bouts of influenza are, today, the main cause for absence from work, so much that they have been defined as “social illnesses” and they can lead respectivelyto permanent deformation and serious pulmonary complications if left untreated.
Against the former an important remedy advised the patient to use the lemon cure: the progressive assumption of the juice of one lemon the first day to the assumption of the juice of seven lemons on the seventh day, then progressively backwards again to the juice of one lemon on the fourteenth day. There followed a pause for fifteen days and then the cycle was started again twice over.

It is obvious that, three months later, either the affliction had passed or the patient had become used to living with it.
Slanderers support a theory that this remedy is a rumour set about by the citrus fruit growers in order to bypass the competition brought by the new entries within the European community market… but I can assure you that the remedy precedes the entry of Greece and Spain.
For acute attacks, it used to be advised to gently caress the affected area with a bunch of nettles, it would certainly not be the caress of a friendly hand, but relief seems to be assured.
In any case one will feel a scorching sensation and the slight burn will surely be forgotten. There is also the cauliflower remedy. Yes, you read correctly: one good sized leaf, well oiled and ironed out between two kerchiefs, applied hot to wherever it is needed, is sure to calm stomach and muscular cramps!

As a collateral purifying, diuretic cure, the decoction of spear grass (Cynodon dactylon or “pedi ‘i gadina”) was prescribed: 30 gr. of rhizome, boiled to eliminate the bitterness and earth then boiled again for ten minutes in a litre of water: three mugs a day for three weeks (because of the miraculous power of three!).
By the end of the cure you will find yourself reinvigorated by the weeding work and with a perfectly kept vegetable plot.

Now for the influenza cures, a subtler illness than it used to be but refined, like the monsoons, by the attribution of delicate names: English, Asiatic, Hong-Kong…
Influenza is commonly confused with a cold because both are viral infections with debilitating and annoying symptoms. The only difference between the two is that the latter has a less painful and less feverish course; the remedies for one are valid for the other as well: eat raw garlic – infusions of rosemary, 5-15 gr. per mug – infusions of cinnamon, 5-10 gr. per litre of boiling water; 1-2 small glasses while it is hot then bed rest – infusions of borage (Borago officinalis), 20 gr. of flower heads in one litre of boiling water, for 10 minutes, 3 mugs a day – infusions of eucalyptus, 20 gr. of dried leaves per litre of boiling water, 3 mugs a day – infusions of onion, chopped and boiled in sweetened milk, drink while hot then bed rest… Infusions and decoctions will be more effective if sweetened with honey.
Onion wine: 150 gr. of chopped onions, 100 gr. of honey, leave to macerate for 15 days in 1 litre of white wine: 3 spoonfuls a day.
Decongestant and anti sneeze remedy: smell a pinch of ground origano or basil. I will skip the well known camomile remedy as well as those of mallow, dried figs, and hot wine; but I must underline the benefits of a resting warm bed convalescence.

Are these remedies really “effective”?
I can already hear the unmistakable question coming from the sceptics.
-Gentlemen, do not wrench digressions from me. The century old certainties have crumbled away; beginning with those of rights, of which only the reciprocal rights still survive because innate in mankind…

Once it used to be enough for an eccentric to wrap himself in a sheet (which the Romans would call “toga”) to go and be a “peripatetic” under the Athenian porticoes, for his “principle of identity” and his findings (according to Aristotle)to challenge the millenniums and become “Gospel” no less than four centuries before the real ones with a capital “g”. Or for another person to state that the basic chemical unit was the “atom”, for such a theory to arrive almost intact to the beginning if our century. While one of their modest predecessors only had one certainty, that of knowing nothing. But that was a sure strong and unmoveable certainty!…
Physical and mathematical certainties have been destroyed by our politicians with… “more advanced equilibrium” and “parallel convergence”; and so have the “tout-court” policies.
Artistic certainties have been literally “ditched” by the Livorno youths, with the Modigliani stones.

The certainty of “fixed” stars in the night skies has been invalidated by radio-telescopes; which have found that many stars have become extinct many thousands of centuries ago; and that all we still admire are their ghosts…

Once upon a time, a crusader, or an explorer or a Ulysses would leave to “conquidere l’Ave”, to discover new lands or to conquer Troy; and decades later they would find their small family again, with their wife older but still faithful and their dear little children somewhat grown-up. Today, a poor man goes abroad in search of work; within a few years he manages to put by a small sum of money, he returns home where he finds a man. Not the third party that you may be thinking of but the natural mother of his children who now find themselves with two fathers.
Oestrogen fluctuations or the work of complacent “do-gooders” on her behalf, thus she came into her own!

Once upon a time people used to sing with their uvula, whether it was of gold or not; songs like “Sole Mio” and “Grazie dei Fiori” and “Serenata” still travel the world moving people’s hearts. Nowadays, people sing with parts of their bodies destined for very different purposes and which deteriorate much faster than the uvula, and so the heart ends up playing the role of the “guest of stone”.

Question: Who remembers the last songs which won the Castrocaro or S.Remo music festivals?

On closing this digression the only thing left to do is to draw the conclusions. If you have attentively followed the above described remedies and something still does not convince you, there is an alternative: refer to your doctor and blame him for any resulting failure. If however you are people with character, clench your teeth and…start singing.

“Canta che ti passa!” (sing and it will pass), thus states the proverb distilled from popular wisdom. A vague and halved wisdom because like any oracle it always omits to specify the subject!


Seasonal illnesses and natural remedies
by Vincenzo Franco

Corriere di Caulonia - July 1989


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