32nd IGC
Florence, 2004

 Abstract title
THE MESSINA STRAIT AND THE COLAPESCE LEGEND

Authors
AVERSA MARIO 1,
TORRE ROSARIO 2,
VITTORI EUTIZIO 3

presenter's e-mail: mario.aversa@apat.it
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" .

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