Craco is the southern Italian hill town located Basilicata, about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. The medieval village of Craco is typical of the hill towns of the region with mildly undulating hills with the lands surrounding it sown with wheat. During the mid-Twentieth Century recurring earthquakes began to take a toll on the town until between 1959 and 1972, when the village was almost totally destroyed by a series of landslides.
In 1922 over 1,300 Crachesi left to settle in North America because the poor agricultural conditions created desperate times and the land was not producing enough for the people. Craco was doomed. Now, Craco is uninhabited. Starting in 1963, the 1,800 remaining inhabitants were gradually transferred to a valley in a locality called Craco Peschiera.
But, the Craco Society in New York, founded in May 2007 is a non-profit organization to preserve the culture, traditions and history of Craco. Two visits to the site have been made by society members, and as of March 2014, the organization has grown to 466 members. They are currently working on projects to meet future goals.
These goals include: expanding their membership to reach the many Crachesi descendants worldwide in an attempt to share the history, culture and traditions of the town. They are planning the 7th annual Crachesi del Nord America Reunion next summer, and the celebration of San Vincenzo’s 113th year in New York in October, 2014.
They plan to continue to work to support the preservation and renovation of Craco from the ravages of nature, obtaining historical and genealogical records and establishing even closer bonds with the residents of Craco Peschiera. They invite anyone with a special place in their heart for this ancient, historic town to join them in their mission. Contact them at: http://www.thecracosociety.org/.
By Judy Pinegar
Judy is a writer for numerous publications