Big Snow in little Village
How Capracotta got into the Guinness Book of Records -
13 Apr 2015
Marco Jelic, team manager of Cosmopublic Italy, writes about a special event that put his "hometown" Capracotta in international headlines & why he considers getting a tattoo now. by Marco Jelic
Capracotta means “cooked goat”. But its name is not the only peculiarity of this small, lonesome village in Southern Italy, which lies 1421 meters above the sea level in the heart of the Apennine Mountains. A couple of weeks ago only few Italians even knew of it. Now the village with its 600 inhabitants has achieved worldwide fame.
On 5th and 6th March over 2 and a half meter of snow fell in only 18 hours. This is a world record! It beat the previous record established in 1921, in Silver Lake, Colorado, where 193 cm fell in 24 hours. In the first days of March Capracotta was isolated and completely covered by huge amounts of the white powder. Some residents built tunnels under the snow to make their way through the streets, others had to leave house by the window on the second floor. A surreal state of emergency.
But what happened after the news spread was something the residents of this mountain village had never experienced. Journalists of Italy’s greatest newspapers - La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera - and TV stations flooded the “piazza”, the village`s central square. It appeared in breaking news on public channels, in private newsmagazines on Canale 5 or Italia Uno in prime time, which means in Italy: during lunch and dinner. After the Guinness World Record was officially and scientifically proven, the news reached the United States. CNN broke the news: a meteorologist - live on air - compared and analysed the record snowfalls from 1921, Silver Lake, Colorado, USA and the snowfall in Capracotta, Molise, Italy. The media went crazy: Capracotta’s major, Antonio Monaco, gave an interview to CNN stating that “Capracottesians” are happy to be the world’s snow-village number one, emphasising that the snow has always attracted tourists and winter sports fans. and promoting the idea of a partnership between the “snow-villages” Silver Lake and Capracotta. The inhabitants and all the people who are bound to this place due to their family origins couldn’t believe their eyes. Their little village got famous. At least for the moment.
What is this village about? And why in the world is its name “cooked goat”?
Capracotta is located in the second smallest region of Italy: Molise. Nearly unknown and untouched by mass tourism the region could conserve its originality. Molise was separated in 1963 from the more famous region Abruzzi, in central-south Italy. Molise has 350 000 residents and is one of poorest regions in Italy.
Due to the lack of industry Molise is still an agriculturally shaped area. Unemployment is above average, a lot of young people are moving away looking for better perspectives in Northern Italy or in Europe. Molise’s unrevealed strength is a combination of natural beauty with a traditional Mediterranean culture; even if Capracotta on first sight seems to be a lost village somewhere in the mountains with a slightly anachronistic touch. Many of the former inhabitants who in the early 1960s emigrated due to economic crisis in search for work in Italy’s metropolises Rome, Milan or Naples, or in Germany and even in the USA. However, many come back in the summer time with their families. Every August the number of residents in Capracotta increases from a few hundred to approximately 5000. When every three years the religious Madonna Celebrations take place, the village nearly bursts, counting about 10 000 “comebackers”.
Capracottesian emigrants return from Canada and the States, from Germany and Great Britain just to see the traditional procession with the decorated Madonna statue carried through the streets. And it’s especially the high number of young people which leaves an impact on the Capracottesian life in summer. They flee from their everyday life in Rome’s or Milan’s suburbs and return to their ancestor’s roots, enjoying summertime in the Apennine Mountains. Some of them have at least a tattoo to show their deep relatedness: 1421 slm – 1421 meters above sea level, a reference to the altitude. And it was mainly the “Capracottesian” youth who shared and liked the world-record snowfall on social media channels - #CapracottaBigSnow was the official hashtag.
A southern Italian village named “cooked goat” which incorporates all those wonderful paradoxes. But why “cooked goat”? Legend says that shepherds founded the village where a goat jumped through their fire while they were resting. All started with a peculiarity.