Welcome to DONADIO.us - Benvenuti a DONADIO.us
Who, What and Why?
Grottole is located in the Province of Matera, in the Region of Basilicata, in
southern Italy. The village of Grottole extends along a crest in a territory
rich in waters: the Basento and Bradano rivers, the Basentello and Bilioso
torrents and the smaller streams Cupolo, Rovivo and Acquaviva. Human presence
dates back to very ancient times, as testified by the many prehistoric caves
below the present town, and its Latin name was Cryptulae, which means small
grottos in Latin. As with most old towns, Grottole was strategically built on
a mountain, standing 481 meters above sea level. At this altitude, the town
was less suseptible to attack and also insects.
Its reputation is based on its artistic tradition of rustic pottery (plates,
flasks, oil and cereal containers called orci) for everyday use, baked in
antiquity in ovens excavated in the rocks.
The territory was inhabited in prehistory and in historical times by the
Greeks between the 13th and 12th century BC, when it was part of the
Metaponto colony, the most important of the 8 regions of Magna Grecia.
In Roman times Grottole was a Municipium. After the fall of the Roman
empire in 851 the Lombards included the Grottole fiefdom in Salerno dukedom,
and at that time a castle was built. It was ruled by many feudal families,
among them the Orsini-Del Balzo and Zurlo-Pisciscelli, then from 1547 to 1639
it was under the Sancez De Luna d'Aragona, to pass to the Caracciolo of Melissano,
Spinelli of San Giorgio and finally from 1738 to the Sanseverino from Bisignano.
The castle (Castle Feudale) still stands today.
Records of the year 1010 show Grottole as a populous town with 13,000
inhabitants, but plagues and wars reduced the number to a little over
4,000 in 1133 when the town was siged and plundered by Ruggero.
Plagues and a disastrous landslide caused a further decline, and in a
Numerazione dei Fuochi of 1493 Grottole was inhabited by about 1300
people, and in 1783 the inhabitants were 2010.
After the explosive demographic growth of the 19th century, there was
another drop in the population because of emigration, so that now the
inhabitants are about 2,600 .
Both of my father's parents (the Donadio and Lamagna families) were born
in Grottole. Many dear relatives still live in Grottole and the number
of friends of Grottole continues to grow. Through a labor of love that involved
the help of a special cousin Domenico Lamagna, and priests who allowed me to
access the churches records, I have been able to trace my Donadio geneology back
to 1750 and my Lamagna geneology back to 1605. Eight and thirteen generations
respectively. The search for more ancestors continues.
With its many narrow stone streets and family wine cellars that are dug into
a mountain of rock, Grottole is unique and has a lot of character. For a
small town, there is a lot of passion. My personal library now consists of
seven books that were written about Grottole by people of Grottole. One of
special one being a dictionary of Grottolese -- the dialect of Grottole.
Although I live in the United States, my heart is in beautiful Grottole.
Long live Grottole!
Mark Donadio ( g r o t t o l e @ y a h o o . c o m )