Tree Museum Project - Leo Club Crotone

Recovery and enhancement of the Orto Candela.

in collaboration with lawyer Fabrizio Meo
Service Chairman for the X District Lions 108 Ya.

The purpose of this project is to give a voice to trees. This is not strange or unlikely, if we consider that the idea that plants have legal status, a legal personality and ultimately the right to speak, is becoming more and more prevalent in the constitutional laws of most nations.

To develop such an ambitious and feasible project, a particularly evocative place in the city of Crotone was chosen: the ancient Orto Candela. The garden covers 4,300 square meters, nestled at the foot of the imposing Castle of Charles V (for the construction of which, the ruins of the sacred area of the ancient city were used). This is the historical site where once stood the Acropolis of the ancient Kroton, homeland of philosophers and athletes without equals, that gave birth to Milo, the invincible Olympic champion, and where Pythagoras started his preaching. It’s hard to imagine a more evocative place.

The garden was rescued from urban decay thanks to the work of several organizations: Italia Nostra, Pantagruel, and the Lions – with the “Trees for Life” Service- who, over the past months, have planted oaks, pines, almond trees, pomegranates, laurels, olive trees (with the rare white olive tree) including  medicinal herbs of various kinds, such as the chaste tree plant, now difficult to find locally.

All these plants held a relevant place in the mythology of the Magna Graecia era, and they continue to have a meaningful role in the religiosity of the people. These plants and herbs tell us of the early days of our territory.

A 40 x 60cm metal panel has been installed next to each tree , with the botanical characteristics and the story of the myth related to the plant.

Here attached are the  descriptions of the laurel and the chaste tree.


A Qr code has been added to the panels, allowing us to update them with new contents. The code only links to the English translations of the information panels at the moment. Further contents will be added, with a focus on the plants, the place and the history of our Association. Following contacts between the IV Council Commission of the Municipality of Crotone (with Culture mandate) and the representative of the local Chamber of Commerce, the extraordinary Commissioner Mr. Alfio Pugliese, it was decided that the nascent “Orto Candela plant museum” would be included in the “Itinerari” circuit, which tells the religious history of Crotone through Qr codes located near the beautiful churches of the city. The Qr code development project will be supported by the Leo Club of Crotone. With the participation in the Environmental Service Project challenge 2020, President Stefano Arcuri was awarded the funding to develop future contents to the Qr code, in addition to those already included in the information panels.
The ceremony took place on November 26, 2020, with the planting of the first trees and the placement of the informative panels, in the presence of a large representation of the City Council, that included Eng. Vincenzo Voce, Mayor of Crotone, lawyer Sandro Cretella, Councillor for public green and parks, Dr. Antonio Scandale, Councillor for budget, Mr. Domenico Ceraudo, President of the Budget Commission. Everyone expressed their appreciation and their support to the initiative. Several voluntary associations were present. First of all Italia Nostra, which has the merit of having adopted the once degraded area of the Orto Candela; Pythagoras Lab, who curated the historical researches to create and design the Qr code contents and whose work is inspired to the great philosopher; Pantagruel, holder of the small library created within the Orto Candela, that will soon publish writings related to the “Trees for Life” Service and other Lions publications. The event was introduced by the District Specialist lawyer Fabrizio Meo, and saw the participation of the Presidents of the Lions Clubs: Dr. Franco Palermo – Crotone Host, Dr. Giuseppe Spagnolo – Crotone Marchesato; architect Francesco Livadoti – Hera Lacinia, Eng. Giuseppe Laterza – Area President, Captain Salvatore Russo – District delegate for culture, and a representative of the local Leo Club of Crotone whose active role and commitment will continue in the future. This initiative and all the others related to the Service, has received the patronage of the Municipality of Crotone. The volunteers of Italia Nostra, Dr. Francesco De Marco of Pythagoras Lab, Ms. Francesca Brunetti, responsible for the English translations, and Eng. Gianfranco Ruperti of Garden Giada have been awarded with a beautiful appreciation plaque for their contribution; it was especially made for the occasion by Michele Affidato, master goldsmith of Crotone, who created a splendid “Tree of Life” adopted as a symbol for the project.

The master goldsmith was not randomly selected. Michele Affidato is an undisputed excellence of the territory, and a member of the Lions Club Crotone Host. A source of pride for the community, has been forging the annual Sanremo National Music Festival prizes for over a decade. He is celebrated for making the coats of arms of the last three popes, and for the creation of the diadems that adorn the ancient image of the Madonna di Capo Colonna, inside the Cathedral of Crotone, and the diadems of the image of the Madonna of Czestochowa.

This event lead to the twinning of the two sanctuaries.
His participation in an initiative that celebrates the millennial bond between plants and religion, was therefore not accidental and his magnificent “Tree of Life” honors a prestigious initiative that will continue over the years, always enriching itself with new contents.

On the same day, another very delicate and emotional issue was discussed. A few days before the presentation of the event, the city of Crotone was devastated by a disastrous flood which has caused enormous material damages. Nonetheless, this wounded city was able to get up and react, holding the scheduled ceremony as planned. Dr. Roberto Iuliano, president of the X District, concluded the meeting with his speech, reading a message from Governor Antonio Marte who addressed a greeting and an encouragement to those present and to the City of Crotone, encouraging its prompt reaction and anticipating the Lions’ solidarity which resulted in the donation of $10,000 to the most affected families in Crotone and a further donation, as part of the Lion Alert project, of 17 tons of Rummo pasta.

At the end of the day, tools and safety devices were donated to the volunteers working in the Orto Candela area by Mr. Fabrizio Meo, X District Service Coordinator, to ensure continuity in the care of the numerous plants.
A portion of the Orto Candela has also been destined to host a small Memorial garden for the victims of Covid-19, and the information panels will keep memory of this terrible pandemic.
On March 18th – Italy’s COVID-19 Memorial Day- a luxuriant Grevillea Rosmarinifolia (Rosemary Grevillea) was planted; it will compose a path of scents within an area which, because of its peculiarities and potential, is likely to become a meeting place for the various local associations: a designated place for socialization, culture, commemoration and memory of the past.

Fabrizio Meo
Service Chairman for the X District Lions 108 Ya.