From San Nicandro Garganico there are not far the shores of Lesina Lake, where the river Lauro enters the lagoon. Through a short rudimentary pier that can hardly be seen among the vegetation on the shore, among which the delicious salicornia stands out, we climb aboard the sandal, a boat very similar to the lagoon gondolas, to discover the methods with which eels and big eels are captured.

The gray scale from the sea to the lagoon

With just one oar, pointing at the bottom of the lake, just as we have seen the gondoliers do in Venice, we lead the boat on the dark and limpid water, a little frightened by the news that there are insidious quicksand below us.

We arrive at the point where the lake is deeper and where there are the fish traps, formed by three interconnecting rooms, from the largest to the smallest, where, once entered, small mullets remain imprisoned and, with luck, eels and big eels.

Accomplice the air all around wet and gray, looking at the shores of the lake, where among the reeds occasionally a soaring heron rises in flight and you hear the unmistakable line of coots, we go back in time.

It seems to relive the atmospheres told in 1965 by the director Elio Piccon who directed non-starring actors and fishermen, using the technique of direct grip and living four months between the village of San Nicandro and the lake. His film/documentary L’antimiracolo tells the stories of the fishermen and the drama experienced by the people of the area, forgotten by the world and remained at an archaic level of life.

The title underlines the fact that in the South, especially in these areas, life was then below the poverty line and not touched by the so-called economic miracle that in those years involved Northern Italy. The film represented Italy at the Venice Documentary Film Festival, obtaining the Leone di San Marco plaque and torn the veil on a situation unknown to most people, impressing on black and white film and recounting in Garganoise the saga narrated a century before Verga in I Malavoglia.

This sense of estrangement increases when, going up from the lake to the center of the village, we arrive in the main square of Terravecchia, the oldest part collected under the castle. The dip in time continues once you enter Palazzo Fioritto which houses the Municipal Library Petrucci and the Historical Ethnographic Museum of the Farming Civilization, in which archaeological finds are collected but also tools and utensils that testify the life of the Sannicandresi in the last two centuries.

After the tour through the narrow alleys of the oldest district, between churches and palaces, we overlook the Vallone then going back to the nineteenth-century part of the city with large buildings with elegant portals.


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