Aspromonte Park, return to Greek culture!

2.10.2019

There is a Greek Calabria, land of myth, isolated, wild, rural. Hospitable and spiritual. Greek in the landscape, in food, in religious traditions, in craftsmanship, in idioms: between the Aspromonte and the Ionian, many elders still speak the language of Homer!

Old village Gallicianò

Gallicianò, a small village, is entirely Hellenophone. That strip of Calabria (Bovesìa) so close to the Strait is Greek also in the toponymy, but above all in the manifestation of the feeling of “filoxenia”, love for the foreigner, ancestral concept of hospitality, as the Greeks conceived it in antiquity…

THE CALABRIA OF THE “FILOXENÌA”

In the Grecanic area (which preserves deep Byzantine traces), from Pentedattilo to Bova, passing through Amendolea, Gallicianò, Roghudi, Chorìo, Roccaforte, Condofuri, Palizzi, Staiti, Sant’Agata del Bianco, Brancaleone, up to Africo, the stranger is a deity.

And as such it is treated. Do not be surprised, therefore, if you will receive an invitation to lunch from the locals: there is a “lestopitta” (Greek-style unleavened bread), always ready to be filled in every home.

Certainly, some of the residents you meet on the street will guide you to discover the places, telling you stories and legends. It is their welcome.

Landscape of the park: the sea on the horizon

EXPERIENTIAL TOURISM FROM THE ASPROMONTE TO THE IONIAN

The journey has to be prepared carefully, requires a conscious and participatory approach: it is slow, experiential tourism. The local tourist offices provide valuable information.

Ghost Greek Village of Roghudi

It should be noted that the roads within the Aspromonte National Parkthe kingdom of the Sibyl – are impervious, the vertiginous valleys. That from the villages to the coast you go up and down between domes of rocks with slopes of a thousand meters.

A marvelous environment, in an aerial perspective

In the distance, Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano. Lunar landscapes: mulberries and junipers among the gullies. And the most beautiful river in the world: the Amendolea.

Lake Menta

The urban archaeological park of Brancaleone Vetus (“ancient”) looks down on the so called “Valley of Armenians” and its villages.

Cascade of Amendolea

The gaze ranges from new Africo to the marina of Bruzzano, on bergamot plantations, on ancient vines and ancient olive trees.

The native goats, balanced on the steep walls of the mountains, among small groups of abandoned houses, have a prehistoric beauty.

Brancaleone Vetus

THE SEA OF CORRADO ALVARO

The sea there is like you’ve never seen it before. Needless to say that it is Caribbean: in the Greek navies of Calabria “the deserted sea lays like a child’s painting on the arc-shaped, white and solitary coast“, wrote Corrado Alvaro, a famous writer native of San Luca.

Corrado Alvaro

On the sandy beach, from Melito to Brancaleone, it will be easy to follow the turtle hatching: the environmentalists of the Caretta turtle Calabria Conservation association will guide you in the exploration.

This way your journey in Calabria will become also a real experience of the richness of sea and a chance to learn new things.

THE MUSEUM OF THE CALABRIAN GREEK

The museum of the Greek-Calabrian language of Bova named after the German linguist Gerhard Rohlfs.

Pentedattilo ghost village

He was the first to support the  origin from Magna Graecia of the spoken language still living in the Hellenophonic villages and in the most inaccessible slopes of the southern Aspromonte.

The Greek Calabria is “like a relic” of 2500 years ago.

Africo Ruins in the Grecanic area

Local Shepherds are as repositories of secrets and ancient knowledge. For example, the music and the tarantellas “remember the sacred dances of the Greeks”.

This is the reason why the village of Pentedattilo was recovered (this is a few houses perched on a rock that stands out like a giant hand)…You will discover that its name is the same greek word for a hand with five fingers!

House in the stones

Now Pentadattilo backs to life thanks to the commitment of the Pro Pentedattilo association.

Now there is a bar, shops, a hostel and a popular hotel. Every year the Pentedattilo film fest brings international cinema operators to the scene. And many fans: usually from 26 to 31 August.

Etna volcano, a sight of Sicily from Aspromonte

WHERE STAY / LOCAL ARTISANS

You sleep in characteristic B&Bs or in hotel houses. Hospitality is often managed by local cooperatives.

Cascade of Maesano

The flavors of the kitchen awaken pastoral memories (such as “maccheruni” with goat sauce). Only in Bova it is possible to choose between seven restaurants. The ricotta is served almost hot, just made. Organic is a fact.

Greek-speaking village of Bova

The wooden or terracotta souvenirs are of fine craftsmanship, from the “pinakes“, the votive tablets that the Greeks printed in honor of Demetra, to the “musulupare“, carved wooden containers, with anthropomorphic forms, to shape the cheese.

Quiet Nature in Aspromonte

Artisans made them in Melito, near Condofuri.

Seafront of Melito

Along with collars for goats, bagpipes and old tools that are real pieces of art. Other local artists create delicious Greek madonnas with cherry, olive, medlar and chestnut branches.

The mysterious monolith “Pietra Cappa”

The ceramists elaborate Greekism in a contemporary key.

Reggio Calabria

In their workshops on the outskirts of Reggio Calabria they mold enchanting artifacts that tell stories and myths of the Grecanic area.

Castle Ruffo, near Amendolea and Condofuri

As the “fuitina d’u previte”: a love escape of a priest with a woman of Bova.

The designers in their small workshops in Delianuova (on the slopes of Aspromonte) realizes bijoux for high fashion with what nature offers: berries, leaves, pine cones, woods sea urchins, shells, starfish. Also citrus fruits, vine shoots, crystallized bread, hemp and hard stones. Land and sea become catwalk jewelry.

Delianuova in the Winter

“Stocco di Mammola”, the Calabrian taste of Flanders stockfish

12.9.2019

Mammola is a beautiful town near Reggio Calabria, famous as the land which, thanks to its nature between the mountains and the seas, is able to offer a vast gastronomic panorama to those who live and visit it.

The five Calabrian provinces (Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio Calabria, Vibo Valentia and Catanzaro) are linked to each other by a culinary tradition that has humble and ancient origins.

A sight of Mammola (Church of Madonna del Carmine)

The dishes, which connect all five Calabrian provinces, are few and differ, above all, in their preparation. Among the most common dishes, there is stockfish, especially the local recipe of “Stocco di Mammola” (literally the “stockfish of Mammola”), which is a little bit modified in every province.

HISTORY

Stockfish has a very ancient history. In 1431 the noble Venetian merchant Pietro Querino and his crew, from the return of Flanders, were caught by surprise by a storm. After days at sea, the ship ran aground in an archipelago of the Arctic Circle: the Lofoten Islands.

Lofoten Islands

Suffering the cold and after finishing the food, they decided to go in search of food. They found a huge fish stranded on the rocks and decided to cook it on the beach. The smoke caused by the cooking of the fish, intrigued the inhabitants of the island in front that they ran to see who was on that abandoned island. Found the castaways, they took them to their lodgings offering hospitality.

The crew and the Venetian nobleman remained with the population until the arrival of spring: they arranged the boat and returned to Venice with a great and exquisite novelty: the stockfish.

Five hundred years later, in 1932, a monument was held in the Lofoten Islands in memory of the cultural, gastronomic and ethnic link between Italy and those distant islands.

Today the Norwegian archipelago is the most important producer of stockfish in the world and Italy is the largest importer, through the ports of: Naples, Ancona, Vicenza and Liguria.

Norway, a link with Calabria

STOCKFISH OF MAMMOLA

Stocco di Mammola is a dish of Calabrese origin. Of humble origins, it was consumed above all by the poor. In particular, the peasants consumed it and offered it to the laborers during the most strenuous jobs that were carried out in the countryside.

Traditionally, the stockfish is consumed during Christmas and is also given for personal use and consumption. This is a legacy deriving from the custom that many migrants had, at their return they brought to relatives the stockfish as a gift.

To date, the Stocco di Mammola is a true symbol of pride in the village of Mammola (on the Aspromonte mountains), in the province of Reggio Calabria. For this reason the municipal administration of Mammola has recognized the product as “De.Co.“, Denominazione Comunale di Origine (Municipal Protected Origin). Furthermore, the Ministry for Agricultural Policies has included it among the Agro-Food Traditional products.

Since 1500, stockfish is imported from Norway in Calabria and from Flanders and is processed by the various companies present in the Calabria area. The processing takes days, is divided into phases and requires a high level of craftsmanship.

Flanders, a link with Mammola

The town of Mammola celebrates its product with the traditional “stockfish festival“, which takes place every year in August in the ancient village of Mammola. This festival attracts hundreds of tourists and curious people who are ready to buy the product or savor it respecting tradition, in the various local restaurants.

RECIPE FOR 4 PEOPLE:

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of “Stocco di Mammola” sponged in pieces
  • 1 kg of potatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 dried peppers
  • 1 kg of peeled tomatoes
  • EVO oil
  • Olives in brine

Preparation

In a terracotta pot, sauté the sliced onion in the oil. Then put the peeled tomatoes and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Stocco di Mammola

Add salt and the potato wedges and after a few minutes the stockfish with the olives and peppers. Cook over low heat without stirring but shaking the whole pan for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and after serving, let rest the stockfish for a few minutes serve.