(notícia dedicada ao meu amigo João Ratão)
Over 500 years ago an Italian philosopher made the apocalyptic prediction that two consecutive days of snow in the sunny, southern Italian town of Salento would mean ‘the end of the world’.
Now Matteo Tafuri’s prophecy is at risk of coming true after freezing temperatures hit Italy’s Peninsula, blanketing Salento’s beaches in snow. ‘Italian Nostradamus’ Tafuri, who lived from 1492-1582, was one of the most eminent personalities of Apulia region of Italy in the 16th century.
Warning that two days of Salento would lead to the end of the world, he wrote: ‘Salento of palm trees and mild south wind, snowy Salento but never after the touch. Two days of snow, two flashes in the sky, I know the world ends, but I do not yearn.’
According to the Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy, Tafuri was a lover of Greek and Latin literature, a physician and skilled astrologer. After travelling to England, he was jailed after being suspected of Lutheranism. He also ‘indulged in some misguided prophecies, predicting the imminent death of Charles V,’ the encyclopedia says. After his release he is said to have travelled to Ireland, where he was accused of practising magic. But papal intervention led to the charges being dropped and he returned to Italy.
The snow in Salento fell over the weekend as schools were closed in a handful of Italy’s southern cities not accustomed to such heavy snowfall. Individual schools also closed in Rome and Bologna because heaters weren’t working, news reports said. The sub-freezing temperatures have been blamed for the deaths of at least eight people and have disrupted road, rail, air and ferry travel.