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  • Writer's pictureSu Guillory

Calabria Nascosta: The Book That Shows the Hidden Side of Calabria

There aren't a lot of modern books written about Calabria, especially those that delve into the lesser-known rites and traditions of this southernmost region of Italy. But Fulvia Gioffrè, a biologist and anthropologist, has written just such a book.

Called Calabria Nascosta: Realtà e misteri di una terra magica (Hidden Calabria: Realities and Mysteries of a Hidden Land), this book looks at every aspect of Calabria: religious holidays, magical rituals, hyper-regional delicacies, festivals, hidden natural wonders, and nearly-forgotten cultural traditions.

Shining a Light on the Forgotten

Gioffrè visited every corner of Calabria to find the people who are upholding the traditions of days gone by. Sadly, the number of people who still know how, for example, to weave fabrics on the telaio (loom) in the traditional ways are dwindling. It's people like Gioffrè who can resuscitate these traditions.

She visits places like San Flor, where a group of young people have breathed new life into the ancient tradition of creating silk using silkworms. She shares the story of the ciangiuline, women paid to lament, weep, and wail at funerals as a way to provide comfort to the family.

She shares the tradition of bringing wax offerings shaped like arms, legs, and bodies to the statue of San Rocco in Palmi. As the patron saint of health, people in Italy pray to him to heal them.

She takes us to parts of Calabria where an Albanian dialect is still spoken, and women are still singing traditional songs in arbëreshë.

In short, Gioffrè takes us on a tour of Calabria we are not likely to find on our own. She has the key that opens doors to the hidden version of this beautiful land.

Buy Calabria Nascosta

This book is only available in Italian, but even if you don't speak Italian, it's worth buying for the images. You can find it online on Italian bookstore sites like this one.


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