THE MESSINA STRAIT AND THE COLAPESCE LEGEND
AVERSA MARIO 1,
TORRE ROSARIO 2,
VITTORI EUTIZIO 3
1 APAT (Agenzia per la Protezione dell'Ambiente e per
i Servizi Tecnici), via Curtatone, 3 - 00185 Roma ITALY
2 - Associazione Geofisica Italiana - AGI
3 - APAT (Agenzia per la Protezione dell'Ambiente e per i Servizi Tecnici),
via V. Brancati, 48 - 00144 Roma ITALY
Abstract Many are the legends regarding the
Messina Strait, between Sicily and Calabria in Southern Italy. Very
interesting tales related to the mythical figure of Colapesce spread under
the Sicilian Aragonese dominion from 1282 to 1412. Cola, probably a Nicola's
diminutive, was a young fisherman with great underwater resistance. Some
different versions of the original legend about his performances diffused
throughout Europe since then. There are essentially three versions
concerning the way he died.
One says that, reporting back to Emperor Frederick the seabed features of
the Strait, he described the presence of an underwater fire flow between
Messina and Catania, but he died in his second dive. Another version tells
that Colapesce, while rescuing a cannon ball which had been shot close to
the Messina lighthouse, remained caught in a huge air bubble. According to
the Greek myth, Sicily was sustained by three columns. In the last version,
as he had noticed that the column under the city of Messina, facing Cape
Peloro, was collapsing, he took its place and there remained.
The Colapesce legend may have suggestive interpretations in terms of
endogenous phenomena, possibly connected with seismic (collapse of one of
the columns holding Sicily) or volcanic (sea floor volcanism and/or gas
emissions) phenomena occurred in the late Middle Age.
ACCEPTED as Poster Presentation in session:
"T17.05 - Myth and geology" .