Friday, 14 December 2012

Tiriolo Calabria | Unique Views of Two Seas from a Mythological Isthmus.



Tiriolo is one of the gems of Calabria a place in which you can enjoy an unique views of two seas from  a mythological isthmus.

You are in a marvellous Italian Region with a rich historical and cultural patrimony, fantastic beaches,cities and picturesque villages.Many people identifies Calabria mainly as a land of seaside resorts with its several and wonderful coastal towns  with that paradise of blue and crystalline waters and golden sandy beaches but there is much more.

Another highlight of that magnificent Southern Italian land is also the colour of its nature,the charm and the picturesque landscapes of its hills and mountains with the wonderful plateau of the Altopiano Della Sila and the wild  mountains of Aspromonte.The interior offers a multitude of beautiful and picturesque village perched on rocky hills and one of them is Tiriolo.

Just 18,0 km from the city of Catanzaro,the Capital of the County,well known as the city of the two Seas the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian.,that small town of about 4,000 inhabitants which you can reach by the National Road 119 or crossing other captivating places as the nearest towns of Marcellinara, Castaneto and Gimigliano if you are visiting the interior.

Immediately at first sight the view is absolutely stunning it is like a shining Byzantine mosaic in sunny days,those pieces of mosaic are the houses and the forests surrounding that centre perched on a hill at 690 m of altitude in the Piccola Sila (the Little Sila).

Located between two valleys formed by two rivers the Amato and the Corace in an area mainly dedicated to agricultural activities,a territory packed by olive groves and Mediterranean vegetation,Tiriolo lies in that area called Istmo di Marcellinara a isthmus between two seas,Marcellinara from which that string of land took its name is exactly in the middle next to Tiriolo and in that place you are in the slimmest point of the Italian Peninsula.

If Catanzaro is so famous to be the city bathed by the two seas,Tiriolo is the town from where you can see those two seas.Considered one of the most panoramic and picturesque Calabrian towns,the high building you can see coming from the road dominating the entire centre is Palazzo Donati one of the historical local palaces dated the 18th century.That building is like a Sentinel overlooking a valley totally surrounded by mountains.

According archaeological excavations around the municipality were found there flints and fossils in the nearest caves which were inhabited since the prehistoric era.The first official settlement is dated 11th century B.C,founded by the Oenatrians a population settled in Apulia,Lucania (the current Basilicata) and part of Calabria.Colonised and officially declared a Greek land with the name Tryoros  from which derives the current name, which means meaning three mountains,those three peaks are the Monte Portella,the Monte San Salvatore and the Monte Tiriolo.

Calabria as a big part of Southern Italy part of Megale Hellas,the Magna Greece,a long history of Greek Colonisation in the Italic peninsula and also the town is deeply linked to that Hellenic past during the colonisation,absorbing culture and legends too.

According some legends,Tiriolo was visited by Ulysses in the Odyssey wrote by Homer.Ulysses visited that isthmus and the ancient Tryoros and the Kingdom of Phaecians established in that place as result of settlers who probably came from the current Greek island of Corfu.That population was famous in the Greek Mythology to be people exclusively dedicated to have a life of luxury,leisure,parties and fun,lovers of music and not highly appreciated by other ancient Greek populations for that kind of lifestyle.

Before to be incorporated in the Roman Empire after the Greek era there was a passage of other civilisations,the land and all the isthmus was conquered by the Bruzi,a population coming from the nearest Basilicata, Basilicata,considered by the Lucanians the predominant group of that region as rebels.Those former inhabitants was later assimilated by the Romans with several difficulties,very hostiles to an intercultural interchange they did not speak Latin language language,furthermore they were very belligerent and very hard to tame.
 
Tiriolo as other Calabrian towns was also protagonist  of the battles between the Roman Empire and the famous Spartacus who led the famous Slave Revolt.Spartacus and the rebels to stop the attacks of the Imperial Roman Legions,dug a long trench along the isthmus of Marcellinara to cope the land of the Roman soldiers,making that the waters of the two seas inundate the territory and halting the advance of the divisions of the Imperial Rome.

The history of the current municipality continued under Byzantine rule,which defended the region by several attacks by Lombard and Saracens during several centuries.As all the Southern Italy,also Tiriolo as all the Region Calabria fall under Norman domination  for a long period,following the Swabian rule and also governed by powerful families such as  Carafa,Cicala and Ruffo.In particular the family of the Prince Cicala played an important role in the town and today you can see a street and a square called Via Cicala and Piazza Cicala,remembering the name of that influential aristocratic family.

During the Bourbon occupation,the town was integrated in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies before the Reunification of Italy in the 2nd half of the 19th century.About that last event the town is also famous because it was an important stop along the isthmus of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The famous leader and protagonist of the victory of the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia in the reunification of the peninsula,the hero from Nice stopped some days in Tiriolo to organise the troops after the victories in Sicily before to continue on his way towards the conquest of Naples.

Famous for the hospitality of its inhabitants,warm and kind people always ready to welcome the visitors in the best way,that small Calabrian town has a long and important history and the attitude of the locals (knowing that) is to help the visitor,everywhere you are in a street or in a bar,the tourist is sacred,the local philosophy is your home and everyone will help you for any further information you need and you are welcome.

The visit is simply great,enjoying charming narrow streets,small squares,a series of picturesque alleys and many beautiful things to see and admire.You can start from Piazza Italia (Italy Square) is the core,where four important streets converges in it such as Via Cicala,Via Garibaldi,Via Mazzini and Via Cavour.

In that lovely square where you can admire the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Neve dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the snow Patroness Saint of the municipality.It is a Church with three naves and a relevant historic value,built in the 11th century and several times restored.A notable restoration of that religious building was in the 17th century,it has a wide facade with a rose window surmounted by a huge pediment.

Developed on an irregular square plan it presents a rectangular portal.Inside you can admire a relevant tympanum built using local green marble,beautiful marble columns with capitals and splendid arcades,one of the highlight is the wooden image of the Virgin Mary dated the 17th century placed in the altar.

In Piazza Italia there is also one of the historic palaces of the town, Palazzo Alemanni,a Neoclassic building dated the 18th century,which presents a series of rectangular windows surmounted by triangular and semi oval tympanums.The main doorway consists in an ample arcade and on on the top upper section of the facade you see a forged iron balcony.That building is where Giuseppe Garibaldi was hosted for some days during his stay in the municipality..

In Viale Pitagora an avenue not far from Piazza Italia you can see the Municipio,the Town Hall, which hosts one of the most iconic local highlights,the Antiquarium Civico.That museum is a local pride because it displays the history of all the entire area from the 8th century B.C until the 17th century.

The exhibition consists in  a wide collection of objects,some of the most important items are a table of bronze dated 2nd century and a Roman tomb dated the 3th century B.C.In addition you can admire during the visit several relevant artifacts in terracotta,ancient coins,utensils and some interesting military bronze helmets.

The Town Hall also hosts the interesting Museo del Costume, displaying magnificent examples of local costumes and traditional clothes,with embroidery,lace,representing a chronological journey,discovering authentic artistic works of tailoring of Calabria.

From Piazza Italia,you can take Via De Filippis,a street which has the name of Vincenzo De Filippis,an emblematic figure of the town,philosopher,professor at the prestigious University of Bologna and furthermore a famous Italian patriot.Native of the town he was executed by hanging in 1799 in Naples by the Bourbons during the Spanish restoration in the Kingdom of the Two Siciles,event which represented the end of the Republic of Naples to which De Filippis adhered,a man considered a sort of local hero and a local symbol.

From there you can start the walk to the high area of the town and visiting the Chiesa dello Spirito Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit) which is a building erected in the 17th century but totally rebuilt one century later.Very interesting is the facade with a splendid wide arched portal and the bell tower which is the only architectonic element survived of the original Religious temple.Next to thar Church you can admire Palazzo Donati,you are also in a magnificent view point to see the two seas,a fantastic panoramic view of the Piccola Sila and a wide panoramic over the entire Istmo di Marcellinara.

The Palace was erected in the 18th century,it consists in a building arranged on four floors on a huge rectangular plan,the entrances on the ground floor are under a series of four arcades,the arched windows on the first floor are totally symmetric with the doors and in the centre is painted the figure of the Virgin Mary Patroness the Madonna della Neve.

Next to Palazzo Donati there is another building of the local aristocracy,Palazzo Schettini,a construction dated 18th century with iron balconies,arranged on two floors and on the facade it presents wide rectangular windows surmounted by tympanums.

Continuing to walk on the top you can notice another historic monument,the rests of an ancient medieval fortress called Castel Sant´Angelo.That fortress dated the 11th century is the chronological symbol of the local rulers since the Normans continuing with the Spaniards.

Today visible is a big section of the walled perimeter walls and some towers,the town under Normans was totally fortified and surrounded by walls.On the top of the hill there are some rests of medieval structures probably rebuilt over a Byzantine defencive building,who selected that place for its unique and strategic position overlooking the isthmus.In that corner of the town during some excavations were also found some artifacts consisting in ceramic marble and other ancient objects.    .

At the border of the two municipalities of Tiriolo and Settingiano,you can see another medieval highlight of consisting in an ancient fortress called Rocca Falluca.It is a complex consisting of a fortress of Norman origin dated the 11th centur and ,inhabited for five centuries after its construction.

That castle was surrounded by a group of medieval buildings,the name probably derives from the first noble Norman family called Falluch,related to the first Norman knights who came to the Italic Peninsula to fight against the Saracens and to support the Pope.

That Norman stronghold was inhabited by the following dynasties and it was also a property of the powerful family Ruffo,one of the most powerful local families linked to the of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ,Dukes,Counts and Viscounts of different lands in Southern Italy.

The mountainous plateau of the Piccola Sila which includes the entire isthmus is rich of vegetation and wild mountains,a visit to the Monte Tiriolo is a must,it is an emblematic icon giving the town its name.At an altitude of 848 m it offers an unforgettable view and all around magnificent natural landscapes.That mountain is also a paradise of flora and forests of beeches,pines,firs,oaks,alders and many other species of trees and plants.

The black alder is one of the special highlights and furthermore in the area you can see a wide selection of heather,myrtle, broom, pear all that surrounding the town.That place is also very interesting to appreciate the local fauna with a wide range of animals,such as eagles,hawks,a wide variety of birds,foxes and local martens.Around the mount there is a relevant presence of caves,the most famous are the Grotta della Cozzetta,Grotta del Re Nilio and the Meandro del Fico,three spectacular grottoes which worth undoubtedly a visit.

 Tiriolo is a very active centre,thanks its agricultural resources, you can find there an olive oil of high quality,there is also a very good production of excellent local wines and several kinds of fruit.Handcrafts is another traditional activity linked to an old tradition with the production of clothes and handmade shawls,many of them are knitted by hand and frame,excellent products all to see and admire.The presence of forests and different kind of woods created a relevant industry producing musical instruments, masks,wooden objects and utensils.

Local Cuisine in that corner of Calabria is absolutely excellent.The famous Suppizzata,the Calabrian Soppressata is a typical spicy sausage with pepper,excellent for appetisers and snacks,just like the N´duja another spicy salami often used in pasta sauces.Another local speciality is the Morzeddhu,a bread roll,similar to a Mexican Enchillada (to have an idea) filled by meat,spicy pepper,tomatoes,salt and laurel.

The Pruppetti are as the traditional Italian  polpette, a sort of pork meatballs,prepared with goat cheese,parsley,hot red pepper and garlic.Pasta plays another important role in the local culinary traditions the Pasta lu furnu consists in Maccheroni homemade baked in the oven with eggplants,Caciocavallo cheese,a meat ragú and hard eggs.Delicious are also Li Maccaruni Callabrisi,maccheroni prepared with a ragu of meat and local delicious ricotta cheese.

The gastronomic  panorama is completed by a wide selection of local excellent plates with protagonists the genuine local vegetables,grilled and baked and served next to other foods.The famous Pammiggiana i mulinggiani,well known in Italian language as Parmigiana di melanzane,that famous sort of vegetable "lasagna" with eggplant replacing pasta.

The Torrone di Montepaone and the Cupeta prepared with honey are part of the delicious local Calabrian bakery,there is an excellent variety of cheeses,Pecorino,Caciovallo and Caprino,very flavoured and versatile,you can use them for sauces,as starters,melted on different kind of foods.

Excellent is  a wide selection of smooth wines as the fine and prestigious Bivongi,Savuto and Scavigna,wines with a strong aromatic flavour,produced by robust grapes,the taste is superb,you can immediately note the result of the sunny and mild local climate,absolutely palatable at the first sip,they can accompany different king of meals from past to meat and also great to combine with stews and soups.  

Tiriolo is just 33,0 km from Lamezia Terme which has its Airport and 21,0 km from the city of Catanzaro.If you are planning to visit Calabria,the visit of that town is highly recommended,history,kind people, unforgettable landscapes,Calabria and also Tiriolo are places all to discover enjoy and remember,a sunny land with sunny people who will welcome you all year.

Francesco Mari

    
Recommended Accommodations in Tiriolo and area

Hotel Residence Ristorante Due Mari
Grand Hotel Paradiso -  at Catanzaro
Hotel San Giuseppe - at Catanzaro


Recommended Restaurants in Tiriolo

Ristorante Due Mari
Ristorante Al Mulino