Calabria Italy – 10 Fun Facts - Digging Up Roots in the Boot

Calabria Italy – 10 Fun Facts

Ciao tutti! Welcome to The Best of Italy, a video series on Digging up Roots on the Boot’s YouTube Channel. Marilena is going to share 10 fun facts about Calabria.  It is one of 20 Italian Regions in the South of Italy. Watch the video and continue reading below. Also, be sure and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on new video posts.

1 Calabria Italy and the Bronze Riace Warriors

Calabria Italy was an important and strategic part of the Greek Empire known as the Magna Graecia, which is Latin for Great Greece. The toe of the boot is steeped in archeological sites, relics, and artifacts.  A couple of the most well-known are the Bronze Riace Warriors, two life-size Greek bronze statues that were discovered off the Ionian coast of Riace Marina in 1972.  Today they are on display in the National Archaeological Museum in Reggio Calabria. 

2 Calabrians Like it Hot!<img draggable=

Calabria is the main producer and consumer of the peperoncino (chili pepper) Calabrian chili peppers are eaten every way imaginable.  You can have them dried, pickled, stuffed with tuna, or sautéed, just to name a few. Also, they are the primary ingredient in pasta arrabbiata.

3 Steven Tyler has roots in Calabria Italy

Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, has roots in the Calabrian town of Cotronei in the province of Crotone.  His grandfather Giovanni Tallarico was born there.  Steven visited Cotronei in 2013 and sang karaoke with his compadres.

4 Calabria Italy has four mountain ranges  

First, The Aspromonte in Calabria’s southernmost region is near the sea and full of archaeological sites.  You can go from the beach to the mountains in an hour.

Second, Sila, in central Calabria, is divided into three parts. 

-Sila Greca is more cultivated and thickly wooded.  You can find many 15th Albanian Villages. 

-Sila Grande is home to Calabria’s most popular ski slopes. 

-Sila Piccola is densely forested and heavily protected from development.

Thirdly, Serra is probably the least know of Calabria’s mountains, but the best known for the abundance of porcini mushrooms, otherwise known as “Calabrian Gold.”

The fourth mountain range is Pollino.  It is the northernmost region of Calabria, and host to the Romito Caves and the Mercure Valley. 

5 Calabria produces about one-third of Italy’s olive oil.   

Roughly 10 million tons of olives are produced yielding about 140,000 tons of Extra Virgin Olive oil.  Also called Calabrian Gold, Extra Vergine Olive Oil (EVOO) and Calabrian Green.  Calabrian organic olive production today is on the rise. Today, more than 35% is produced organically.  

6 Reggio Calabria the land of Bergamot 

Bergamot from Reggio Calabria is some of the most sought after in the world by the perfume industry.  Bergamot oil is produced along the coast from Villa San Giovanni on the Tyrrhenian sea to Gioiosa Ionica near the Ionian sea.  The manual extraction of bergamot oil in Calabria started in the mid 17th century.  Approximately 200 kilos of fruit are needed to make one liter of essential oil.

7 Calabrian Tarantella 

Calabrian Tarantella is traditional music played during religious and social festivals.  It is usually accompanied by traditional dances in colorful costumes.  The most common instruments used are the mandolin, tambourine, and accordion.  Tarantella originated around the 16th century.  It started as a cure for frenzied dancing for hysteria caused by a tarantula spider bite.  From there, it transitioned into a courtship dance.

8 Calabria’s Ethnic and Linguistic Minorities – The Greeks, Waldensians, and Albanians.

The Greek communities are in the mountains in the province of Reggio Calabria.  They are primarily herders and farmers in isolated areas, they still speak Greek today.

The Waldensians settled in the mountains in the province of Cosenza in the 12th century to escape religious persecution.  Unfortunately, many of them were exterminated and almost wiped them out.  The surviving population maintains their customs, dialect, and accent.

The Albanians are the largest ethnic minority in Calabria Italy.  They fled to the hills in the province of Cosenza to escape religious persecution in the 15th century.  They carry on their traditions, are a closely-knit community and, speak their mother tongue language, Arbereshe fluently.

9 Calabria’s Stunning Coastline 

Calabria is surrounded by a stunning 500-mile coastline and crystal clear turquoise-blue water.  The Calabrian beaches are a popular vacation destination in southern Italy for Italians.  Many Italians build bonfires on the beach in August for the night of San Lorenzo.  It is a huge beach party where people stay up all night watching and wishing on shooting stars, singing, dancing and drinking with friends.

10 The Home of Gianni Versace

Gianni Versace was born and raised in Reggio Calabria Italy.  His mother Francesca was a dressmaker, and she mentored him at a young age.  He made his first dress in Calabria at the age of 9. 

Do you know any other fun facts about Calabria Italy?  Let’s talk it out in the comment section below.  Thanks for reading and watching the best of Italy.  A presto!

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LauraLee

I am a proud third generation Italian American dedicated to promoting the richness of Italian cultural heritage.

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