Aspromonte Park, return to Greek culture!


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…


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


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 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 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


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

Jefferson: the best liqueur in the world is Made in Calabria!


The ship that was supposed to take Mr. Jefferson, an American, from Panama to the port of Genoa began to take water in the middle of the Mediterranean. Within minutes he was sucked into the bottom with his load of bottles filled with sugarcane distillate.

The captain, along with Roger and Gil, two crewmen, driven by the currents, managed to reach the shore.

Americans in Calabria

It was 1871 and the three American shipwrecked men were overthrown by the waves on the Tyrrhenian coast of Cosenza, Calabria, between Fiumefreddo and Fuscaldo.

Escaped from danger, they entered the inland areas, perhaps crossing Serra di Cecio and the summit of Cozzo Cervello, then down to the Valle del Crati, towards the houses.

The Old Customs Warehouse


Between Montalto Uffugo and Torano, in the Ziribba area, Raffaele Trombino, known as “u Giocondo”, managed the Old customs warehouse.

Three small buildings, one used as a dwelling, one for sale, the other for sale.

Jefferson, Roger and Gil found hospitality there: they settled in that warehouse (in dialect “s’accasarano”), working for Giocondo who traded in spices and in the dark, in a secret room, prepared liqueurs with cedar and bergamot.

Jefferson called this place the Perfumery. They set off together with Giocondo before dawn, with the cart and the empty baskets.

Precious Liqueur coming from the “Perfumery”

Four or five hours journey to reach the citrus groves, to the south the “Bergamotto Fantastico” plantations, to the north those of the “Cedri Diamante”.


Little is known of what happened next.

Of men who left for other continents and never returned. Of women left, in America, to wait for the raising children and then emigrated to Germany. Of grandchildren that one piece at a time have re-established ties with the descendants of Mr. Jefferson and rebuilt a beautiful story. Even painful.

But what everyone now knows is that Jefferson’s bitter liqueur is the best liqueur on the planet, coming from Calabria!

Bottle and Dropper

And also the best herbal liqueur in the categories of the World’s Drink Awards: in London, a few weeks ago, in 2019, it twice won the highest podium in the international contest that selects and rewards the best spirits in the world: “Great aroma, Bitter at the beginning, that passes. Soft and smooth and very well balanced with a herbal finish “.

Jefferson – Important bitter liqueur – is a mix of fresh botanical herbs, harvested in bloom and processed as it used to be: rosemary from Montalto Uffugo, oregan from Palombara (near Paola), lemons from Rocca Imperiale, oranges, bitter and sweet, and grapefruit from Bisignano, Roccella Ionica bergamot, the Sila gentian. All ineffable essences of Calabria.

Ivano Trombino


But who is the alchemist of the Old Customs Warehouse today? Who recovered the knowledge and secrets of “u Giocondo”?

Thick black beard, curled mustache, 20s bowler and a great desire to tell each other, amid moving and amusing anecdotes: Ivano Trombino is the author of Jefferson’s perfect recipe.

And not only. He spent seven years reconstructing the history of his family (while working as a liqueur representative for the Caribbean Company) experimenting with blends, between a flowering and another of his botanicals.

A really mysterious blend

Now he is cultivating them in a large garden in Montalto Uffugo, in the province of Cosenza, where he has completely reconstructed the Old customs warehouse: a studio, a spice room, another one for infusions. He entrusted the care of citrus fruits to his father Francesco. “Let’s also say that it will be a contemporary place where promoting the culture of drinking and receiving visits from all over the world”, announces Trombino.

His company with its products (bottled near Cuneo, in the ancient Quaglia distillery) has an international niche target, connoisseurs between 30 and 70 years old.

Montalto Uffugo (CS)


And next to Jefferson’s liqueur (“Natural and authentic bitter liqueur, like Calabria”, of which there is also the Extra Strong mother tincture, in the pharmaceutical bottle with dropper), there are “Roger’s bitter liqueur“, Bitter Extra Strong (“Keep Under Bench”, “Turbid from birth “Is indicated on the label) and “Gil“, a Gin distilled with rural production method, using Juniper and Lemons of Rocca Imperiale (protected under so called IGP mark).

The legend of three Americans

Together they recall the legendary past of the three American castaways.

Frack’s recipe is secret: is the result of three blends prepared from separate infusions, processed with fresh herbs (2 parts of amaricante and 1 vinous).