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Zef Chiaramonte, a life for the Arbëreshe culture.

Zef Chiaramonte
Professore Zef Chiaramonte (foto Elio Castriota)

In the magazine we have chosen not to write epitaphs but rather to create a column, to remember and keep alive the memory of illustrious people who lived in the past, who were fundamental for maintaining our cultural identity.

As we know well, every rule has its exceptions and professor Zef Chiaramonte is undoubtedly a figure who deserves an exception.

I confess that I cannot hide my profound emotion in remembering the eminent figure of Professor Chiaramonte, to whom I was deeply attached, like many who read these lines.

A thread of distant kinship tied me to the professor, as he was the brother of aunt Liuccia, who left too soon.

Since I was a child I had the privilege of knowing the Professor and I was fascinated by his imposing figure. Very tall man, a common trait of this family, and very elegant.

His way of dressing was always very refined and he was noble in his manners and speech.

As a teenager I frequented it, when I went to visit my paternal grandmother in Santa Cristina Gela, because we shared a passion for horses and especially for bindings. His is a deep passion. Many of us, closing our eyes for a moment, will see him again as he drove his carriage with noble elegance and never failed to give a little joy to the children and adults who, upon meeting him, asked him for a ride. His immense smile was the yes he gave to everyone.

The Professor was a curious mind and even in his passion for horses and harnesses there was no lack of ethno-anthropological research. He always studied, everything, every detail. I remember that when I was breeding the Arabian thoroughbred, it was he who initiated the attacks on me and he also lent me one of his light buggies of which he was very jealous, but not so much if it could serve to contaminate someone, to transmit passion and knowledge.

Always studying and transmitting knowledge with profound passion was his greatest gift and he did it without ever making anyone consider how immense his culture was.

He has studied everything and every aspect related to the foundation and history of Santa Cristina Gela, his town of origin. Thanks to his stubbornness, the library of which he was director was established and where he gave great space to Arbëreshe and Albanian literature.

Albania and above all Kosovo were his great love and he was the most convinced ambassador of Kosovo.

A curious and brilliant mind that of Professor Chiaramonte who also contributed to the rebirth of the "Pitrè" ethno-anthropological museum of which he was a cornerstone. I remember that before the reopening, when he had already left his post, he took me to visit the museum behind closed doors where he was welcomed by everyone we met with sincere respect and he did not shy away from giving everyone his smile in in which one could still read the lively bond he had with his museum.

For several months has felt the need to start an in-depth study on the traditional costume of Piana degli Albanesi and Professor Zef Chiaramonte has been a considerable support from the beginning.

Professor Zef Chiaramonte in his life was an absolute protagonist in the cultural world and has always had as his objective the defense of the Arbëreshe cultural identity while also maintaining very close and lively relationships with his native Kosovo and Albania.

Last Thursday he wrote me a message in which he politely explained to me how to use the adjective Arbëresh, because I had used it incorrectly. He was like that and I really liked the friendly way and passion with which he explained things to you.

A couple of months ago we met for a coffee and to talk about Brezi. While we were talking, a former student of his, now a mature man, approached him and paid him respects with respect and devotion; something that struck me a lot because it made me understand how good the Professor was at teaching, at exciting and at making the desire to discover grow.

In his life, Professor Zef Chiaramonte achieved many important and successful things and the most important thing was his family, his wife Angela and his daughters Donika and Xenia, to whom we feel close for this loss.

With deep affection

Salvatore Vasotti

founder / director

*the photo of Professor Chiaramonte is by Elio Castriota and its use was granted to us free of charge by the author whom we thank



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