The new artsy inhabitants squatted in the abandoned stone houses before buying them (the original owners were happy to sell). They patched up potholes in the cobblestone alleys and transformed many of the caves under the village into subterranean homes. They opened art galleries, restaurants and cafes. And, finally, they successfully lobbied to have Calcata’s death sentence rescinded, convincing the government that the earlier assessment was wrong.
“We saved Calcata by moving here,” said Athon Veggi, an artist and Egyptologist who moved to the village in the 1970s and now lives in two adjacent caves: one for her art work, the other she shares with a dozen crows. “People like myself came here because it’s a powerful place and because we’re free to do what we want.”
And how it received the article:
Gianni Macchia was irate when he read the description of his acting career as anything but Oscar worthy. He let it be known in an email to me. “whay did you publyshed that stupid note abaut my activity?” the email began. “Who told you that i wos involved in ‘b’ movies? i didn’t expect this from you. i will formally protest whit the magazine abaut that. you are a very stupid person.”