Modicana Medical School, Campailla by Francesco Roccaro

Beautiful evening last Saturday, with great public participation, for the first event organized by the Salvatore Calabrese Foundation of Modica. The development of the program is
started with a short walk through the alleys of Modica starting from via Albanese (formerly known as Strada della Pietà), in front of the building of the first headquarters of
“Clinica Cascino” (now owned by the Rizzone family), where Uccio Barone, in collaboration with Marcella Burderi and Fabio Lorefice, presented to those present a polite historical excursion of the Modicana Medical School, also including the beginning of the professional career of the professor Rosario Cascino, that he in via Albanese in 1911 founded the first “small surgical sanatorium in Modica” with less than 10 beds, a gynecological department and an ambulatory, always open to “children of the people” (such as the same distinguished and generous surgeon Modicano, he used to call his patients), later moved to the futuristic (for the time) “Villa Cascino”, built a few years later in the eastern district (now via Nuova Sant’Antonio).
Among the narrow and picturesque alleys of the former Casale district (today via Fracasso, Via Clemente and others) the large group of visitors arrived at Piazza Campailla, seat of the former Hospital-Sifilocomio Campailla (formerly Hospital of Santa Maria della Pietà) and today it is the seat of the prestigious “Museo della Medicina Campailla”.
There, the chairman of the “Calabrese Foundation”, Luigi Calabrese, welcomed the guests by introducing the theme of the meeting with the poetic title: “A night with Venus, a night with
Mercury – Campailla Hospital and the city”. Also the institutional greetings of Roberto Falla, President of the Rotary Club, of his daughter, Cristiana, President of the Rotaract Club Modica, and
the former councilor for culture, Maria Monisteri (who only intervened on a personal basis), who all sponsored the meeting and Laura Migliore, whose family helped to keep alive (by buying it) the old house, which under the Castle of the Counts saw the noble birthplace of the genius Tommaso Campailla. To follow, Prof. Barone made a brief historical study that Modica, which started from 1400 and arrived in 1952, was able to express, thanks to the cultural and economic contribution of famous noble families of the city, a real “Modica Medical School”. This school, started with the doctor Diego Matarazzo and continued by Tommaso Campailla and then by Gaspare Cannata, Pietro and Socrate Polara, Michele Gallo and the same, already mentioned, Rosario Cascino, was known and appreciated by the scientific community all over the world.
“The contribution of Campailla and the Modicana school that followed throughout the centuries of history, especially in the fight against venereal diseases – emphasized Uccio Barone – was an example that many great cities of the world, including Palermo and Paris, tried to follow, even if many times, not with the same results”.
Also interesting is the research carried out by Marcella Burderi and the recitation of some dialectal poems by Serafino Amabile Guastella on the subject and some quotes about touching stories that refer to the prostitution of the time, which in Modica for several years of history found fertile ground. on which you can put down roots. And it is precisely on this combination of “old profession-disease” that the work of the Modicana Medical School and Campailla found a reason for its birth, growth and wide fame in the world of the time. Mentioned under the case, also the work of Prof. Valentino Guccione, to whom we owe the birth of the current Campailla Museum.
However, allow me to make a perfunctory remark on this point. Guccione, a man of great culture, innate generosity and love for his Modica, was a passionate researcher and popularizer of medical art and science. Although he was an excellent language teacher (graduated from the Institute of Oriental Languages ​​in Naples) he was in fact a “missing doctor” only because (at the time the families decided) he was not allowed to attend the Liceo Classico Campailla in Modica therefore had to redirect their higher education career to the prestigious, albeit prestigious (at the time it was considered one of the best in Sicily), the Archimede Technical Institute, which once had its headquarters in the “Palazzo degli Studi Campailla” ”, in Corso Umberto. Despite the humanities degree and the education obtained with merit, in the seventies, precisely in the Archimede Institute that had trained him as a young man, Prof. Guccione continued, at all costs, his enormous work of research, cataloguing, revision of all important finds and documentation regarding the work in Modicana and Campailla Medical School. His great dream was to see a museum of medicine built right on the specific site, the former hospital of Santa Maria della Pietà, where the great genius, physician and philosopher Tommaso Campailla had worked between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and then all his successors . . Guccione was so concerned with this commitment (let’s call it a “mission”) that despite harsh and unjustified criticism from
part of many exponents of medicine and related sciences at the time, he specialized a lot in the subject, also thanks to a university course on museum organization he attended
with great sacrifice, in England near Stratford-upon-Avon (the town of William Shakespeare). The writer, who was a young medical student at the time, heard him speak several times heartily about this dream and commendable engagement with my late father, Rector Giuseppe Roccaro (a man of culture, science and school), who always encouraged him greatly. much to continue this research. It remains alive and it hurts a lot in the soul and the mind, the absolute regret that, despite the work of Valentino Guccione, has led, also thanks to the baton collected by others, to the creation of the “Museum of Medicine of Modica” , is not . The proper title of the same museum in question was dedicated to the distinguished teacher from Modica.
This is, in the opinion not only of the author, but also of the many who have known and appreciated him, a most deplorable circumstance, strengthened by the fact that only a small tablet “for
washed face ”(excuse the provincialism) in one of the rooms of the museum, was dedicated to the memory of the professor and his work, without which today we would not talk about anything. In general
it must be said with bitterness that this city has always cynically managed to maintain constant over the years, a kind of veiled ingratitude and lack of respect for memory, towards
of many of his children, who in silence and on tiptoes worked with visceral love for their city, for the well-being of the whole community, and above all in the enlightened idea of ​​leaving
for future generations, a more advanced Modica, known and loved in the world. We wish to express the hope that even these few lines may revive one for the future
dignified form of review, radical change of mentality for those who have to manage the county town, so that the proper consideration of memory is constant
about the citizens who over time have contributed to making this city shine in the world. The work done by Luigi Calabrese, by his foundation and by
all partners, public and private, who support these important initiatives. A wonderful city, whatever it is, must have history, traditions to defend, share and
above all to pass on. Love for culture, for our history and enduring knowledge must be the first of many qualities that must be passed on to future generations without delay.
They must represent the “something” that ultimately makes that city unique in the world.
This too, as a great writer said, is an exercise in memory and as such should never be forgotten.

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