“The region boasts a tenth of the coastal profile of the Peninsula”
Say Calabria mean sea: with eight hundred kilometers of coasts bathed by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian region boasts a tenth of the coastal profile of the Peninsula. But to make the unique ancient Kalon-brion (which means “do good” in greek) are its contrasts: a few kilometers alternate perched and hard towns to reach, rough mountains and golden beaches.
Border point between east and west, north and south, over the centuries has been crossed by many people from all over the Mediterranean. Precisely for this reason, today, is the result of various cultures that have profoundly marked the history: from the Greeks to the Romans, from the Jews to Arabs, Byzantines to the Spanish. Often neglected, Calabria is back in the spotlight thanks to the discovery occurred at sea, in 1972, of two imposing bronze statues, among the most important masterpieces of the fifth century BC, became famous as the Riace Bronzes. Famous for the hospitality and the warmth of its people, is also home to celebrities of the national art scene as Mattia Preti, Umberto Boccioni and Mimmo Rotella.
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Catanzaro. Although the appearance of the city is mostly modern, the town dates back to the Byzantines, the first to settle on the height where he is today the old town overlooking the Gulf of Squillace. Corso Mazzini is the main artery that runs through the center and cut it longitudinally. In one of the side streets, instead, is the oldest monument of Catanzaro, the former church of S. Omobono, who was also the seat of the Brotherhood of Tailors. The “city between the two seas” (because of the meeting of the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Ionian Sea) is a little gem nestled between mountains and coasts. From the Balcony of Bellavista, one of the boundary points of the old town, a view that stretches to the horizon in a breathtaking view, where the blue sky merges with the sea. Back in town, it remains to see the Duomo, which contains the precious (is hand engraved by goldsmiths of the sixteenth century) bust of the city’s patron saint, San Vitaliano; the church of the Mount of the Dead and the Church of the Rosary, futher the monumental fountain “Il Cavatore”, one of the best known symbols of the capital. Villa Trieste is known for its beautiful garden and the view of the sea that, for this reason, in the past it was called “Paradise”. Among the many historic buildings, deserves attention Palazzo Fazzari and refin the refined Palazzo Rocca-Grimaldi. Opened in 2008, the MARCA, Museum of Arts of Catanzaro, is a museum with new renovated rooms: the ground floor are mainly collections of pictorial and plastic art , become part of the heritage of the Province of Catanzaro, distinguished works of Francesco Jerace, Antonello de Saliba, Battistello Caracciolo, Mattia Preti and Andrea Cefaly. The permanent collection of contemporary art, however, is in the making.
Land of sea and land of mountains: hard to say which is the most original feature of this region with beautiful coastlines and rugged wild peaks. The Pollino massif to north, then the Sila, with its dense pine forests and rugged vegetation Aspromonte massif, directly overlooking Sicily, home to predators such as wild cats and wolves. Numerous National Parks, such as the Pollino, Sila (the oldest established in Calabria) and Aspromonte, the Wilderness of Serre, the Marine Reserve of Capo Rizzuto and Oasis Blue Rocks of Isca. To distinguish Le Serre, narrow gorges crossed by streams that cut woods with trees and stately pines. The Stilaro river form Marmàrico waterfalls that from Vallone Folca, about 800 meters above sea level, fall with a jump of one hundred meters between steep rocks. Then there is the sea, of course, fundamental trait of this region which has 800 kilometers of coastline. The beaches of the Tyrrhenian stretch for more than 300 kilometers, alternating with cliffs, stacks and holiday destinations like Tropea. Those of the Ionian Sea, at times colonized by the concrete of urban centers, beautiful beaches of golden sand or rocks, such as those in the area of Capo Rizzuto
Religious festivals and pilgrimages in Calabria is mostly felt. At Nocera Terinese, during Holy Week, takes place as the rite of Vattienti: in the procession of Holy Saturday, while the faithful follow the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, barefoot men and tied in pairs represent the Ecce Homo and the Vattiente. Flagellate themselves fighting in blood calves and thighs. Rivulets of blood flow from the legs, while red wine is poured to disinfect wounds. The Vattienti mark with blood their home, or that of friends, as a sign of good luck, until arriving at the culminating moment of the encounter with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows. Processions, parades, farces and burning of puppets characterize a bit ‘all the Carnival, particularly celebrated in Cassano allo Ionio, Monterosso, Brancaleone, San Giovanni in Fiore, Alessandria del Carretto. In San Leone in Saracena between songs, dances and processions, huge bonfires are lit around which you eat traditional products. In August, among the various celebrations in honor of San Rocco, do not miss one of Gioiosa Jonica and that of Palmi, where there is the feast of Herringbone (men wearing a hood of thorns on his head and chest). Also in August, in the first week, at Stilo is held, since 1997, the Ribusa Palio, after a break lasting 280 years. It is one of the most beautiful manifestations of the tradition folk of Calabria, a journey in the medieval atmosphere of the Kingdom of Naples. Its establishment is linked to Fera de Rebusa, one of the most important (with that of Mary Magdalene of Cosenza and the Spring of Reggio) organized in Calabria Citra and in Calabria Ultra (so the region was divided in the Middle Ages). A big party with contests and tournaments, pageants, music by court jesters, storytellers, ladies, fortune tellers and flag bearers. The final, is reserved for an equestrian competition
HOW TO GET
By Plane. The largest airport is Lamezia Terme International Airport, about 40 km from Catanzaro.
By Train. The main railway lines coming from the north and central Italy pass from Lamezia Terme, Villa San Giovanni and Pàola. The local routes are slow and sometimes no coincidences, with trains replaced by buses. Loveliest the section of distance between Cosenza and Camigliatello.
By Car. The main artery of Calabria is made from the A3 Salerno – Cosenza – Lamezia Terme – Reggio Calabria, often tortuous, with numerous bridges, viaducts and tunnels. The Ionian coast path is entirely on the E90 state. The two main roads linking the Ionian coast to the Tyrrhenian are the E846 between Pàola, Cosenza and Crotone, and the E848 between S. Eufemia (Lamezia) and Catanzaro.
Just past the Lucan Tyrrhenian border meets the stretch of beaches ranging from Praia a Mare to St. Nicholas Arcella, with the flat shape of Dino Island, right in the middle. A boardwalk crosses cliffs with Mediterranean vegetation overlooking the sea, passing by the wild scenery of the Arcomagno caves, also reachable by sea. The ancient town of Scalea is worth a visit with the Capo di Scalea enclosing hidden coves, surrounded by vegetation that reaches the sea. From here the routes to the Pollino National Park. Tropea check on a sandstone bluff in a harsh and beautiful landscape. The town lived a splendor period, as an important maritime center and is a jewel with palaces of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with rich carved portals. The silhouette of the church of Santa Maria dell’Isola, almost vertically on the waves, makes magic one of the most popular resorts in the region. The rugged coastline sheltering beaches separated by rocks, which up to Capo Vaticano are attractive seaside. Long and, at times, inaccessible paths, leading to isolated coves that you can better see if reached by sea. The town of Roseto Capo Spulico is located on the Ionian coast and is known for the beach dominated by a medieval fortress situated on a rocky outcrop. The waters of the northern Ionian are crystal clear (due also to the low population density). The whole area of Capo Rizzuto can be both explored by land and sea. Here, the seabed of great beauty have led to the establishment of a marine park. The miles of deserted beaches of Capo Spartivento forming beautiful landscapes of unexpected solitude, even if they appear traces of abuse building visible in other ionic traits. Then there is the hinterland of Calabria, rugged and mountainous, with spectacular national parks. Cities to mark in the agenda (and must-see) are Cosenza (as well as its province), Rossano, Pàola, Crotone and Reggio, with the archaeological museum showing artifacts from Ancient Greece sites. But if you have time, come up to Gerace, perched village (the name comes from the greek and means sparrowhawk) overlooking the Ionian coast,at south. Quiet, mystical and austere, is not far from the archaeological area of Locri Epizephiri, other unavoidable stage of a trip in Calabria.
TRADITIONS AND FOLKLORE
Every year in August, rabbis from around the world meet in Santa Maria del Cedro, between Cetraro and Scalea, to collect the citron (mystical plant of the Mediterranean) born from pure plants grown, without grafts, then used during the celebration of Tabernacles, in October, in their own homes. So relives, in Calabria, the immortal Jewish tradition of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, in fact) in which the citron (etròg) is still today, together with the palm, myrtle and willow, one of four plants announced by the biblical ritual . But just move in the countries of Frascineto, Civita and Eiànina, especially in the Easter , to attend performances and pageants that are rooted in Albanian culture (of greek-Byzantine rite), still present in some areas of Calabria ( about 60,000 people settled in the majority in the province of Cosenza). Inland from Bivongi, however, the Monastery of St. John Theristus is a Byzantine-Norman jewel of rare beauty, and the only place in Italy where they live permanently greek-orthodox monks from Mount Athos, Greece. And that’s just the beginning, because a depth journey in Calabria unexpected surprises, the result of a layering of cultures and religions different from each other and, above all, still alive. As rich, is the view of the food festivals, like the one dedicated to the prince sausage of the region, the spicy Nduja, held in August in Spilinga, accompanied by spaghetti, beans, garlic bread, meatballs and vegetables. In addition to food, folklore and traditions, the streets of the country perform the traditional “Giants” of cardboard to the rhythm of ” calabrese tarantella “. At the conclusion of the “Camejuzzu i focu”, a symbolic representation of the battles against the invasions of the Saracen pirates, during which gets fired a bamboo camel, placed on the shoulders of a person, including the inevitable fireworks . Among the many traditional festivals linked to gastronomy there are also the Festival of warm bread, in the first weekend of August in San Lorenzo, and the Mushroom Festival of San Giovanni in Fiore, in November.
Calabria has an ancient food and wine culture, which is influenced by Greek, Roman, Norman, Arabic, Spanish and French. Traces demonstrated by the use of spices and flavorings, such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, oregano, fennel, mint, red pepper; and in the preparation of sweets and how to cook meat. The salumi are a dominant and essential food for the Calabrian cuisine, whose tradition dates back to Ancient Greece. Other typical products are the soppressata, the sausage and capocollo. But it is nduja the most famous sausage, a soft salami, spreadable, spicy, mainly produced in the area of Spilinga, but found throughout the region. It is eaten spread on slices of toasted bread, fried to the base of the sauce, on pizza, on slices of hard cheese or omelets. The spicy morzello instead you get it by cooking, in tomato sauce, and the innards of some organs of cattle and uses in the typical bread from Catanzaro donut-shaped crushed, divided into several open pieces. . The homemade bread is a flagship of the region, prepared with a long natural rising. The most famous are: the “Bread of Cuti”, the Nardodipace pizza (flat bread with chili), the wheat biscuit of Reggio Calabria (sort of poor frisella,), the “bread of Cerchiara of Calabria”, the rye ” jermanu bread ” the bread with fennel seeds of Serra San Bruno, the hard wheat bread of Mangone (Cosenza). Between the mountains and plateaus of the Sila is a succession of rich forests of fir and pine trees, with an ideal climate that favors the growth of many species of mushrooms. Of particular value the mushrooms and eggs, fresh or pickled. Among the cheeses, stands the pecorino del Monte Poro, one of the most renowned of the region, as well as the crotonese Pecorino and Caciocavallo, another ancient semi-hard cheese produced using cow’s milk. Among the typical vegetables, sweet red onion of Tropea and tasty potato of Sila, while among the fruits, cedar and figs (the most famous is the Dottato of Cosenza), prepared stuffed with an almond and chocolate-covered, or passed in the oven soaked with the juice that is obtained by cooking long fresh figs. Among the desserts, we remember the bucconotto, sweet made with ground almonds and chocolate, nougat of Bagnara, the truffle of Pizzo (an ice cream with a heart of dark melted chocolate, covered with a dusting of cocoa), the mostaccioli of SorianoCalabro (hard biscuits prepared with flour and honey or must warm wine ).
The craftsmanship in Calabria is an extremely lively reality. Among the various products, the first place belongs to the weaving, spread almost everywhere, with features ranging from the place. A Longobucco (Cosenza) are produced tapestries and blankets, at S. Giovanni in Fiore carpets are woven with a technique Armenian, in Ghorio Roghudi are woven broom blankets, in the province of Reggio are produced the “pezzare”, woven multicolored strips used as carpets or for decoration of the walls, and at Tiriolo Badolato (Catanzaro) will weave the “vancali”, traditional shawls. Even the production of ceramics has ancient roots and has in Squillace, Locri and Gerace major processing centers. Crotone is known for its goldsmiths, which make use of one of the most important schools in the sector. Prestigious are also the products of cabinetry with ‘wood carving, famous production of pipe, a traditional craft very popular, thanks to the precious woods of the hinterland, as the roots of the tree of the Aspromonte. Remarkable also the production of musical instruments, like the violin makers at Bisignano and that of whistles in barrel of San Luca.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
… The Arbëresh, the Albanians of Italy, are an ethnic and linguistic minority arrived in Italy between the fifteenth and eighteenth century, following the gradual conquest of Albania and across the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Turks? They managed to maintain and develop their greek-albanian identities, thanks to their strong sense of belonging and cultural value exercised mainly by the two religious institutes Eastern Rite located in Calabria , the “College Corsini” (1732) and then “Corsini-Sant’Adriano” in 1794. most of the community arbëreshë retain the Byzantine-greek rite.