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Golden Day 105: Gerace with Domenico Russumanno of Made in South Italy Today

April 14, 2014

144AASES_150I’m grateful to have connected with Domenico Russumanno, a native of Vallefiorita, (Flowering Valley), a beautiful village in the province of Catanzaro, Calabria. Domenico is part of the team who created the Made in South Italy Today website, that’s full of insider’s information about Italy’s southern regions–including fascinating history, natural landscapes, and companies that sell artisinal products–such as olive oil, sweets, pastas, and fine textiles. I’m intrigued by what I found there about Calabria, such as the clip from the 1959 movie, The Forgotten Ones, that gives new meaning to “Off the Beaten Path”–showing the rituals of a remote mountain town–from hauling up supplies over craggy mountains on horseback, to feasting and dancing at their spring festival. 

Here’s Domenico, sharing advice for a Golden Day in the medieval town of Gerace:

Gerace is a charming town, set on a magnificent plateau, less then two hours drive from Lamezia Terme airport, in the hinterland of the Ionian side of Calabria, in the province of Reggio Calabria.

 

 

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It is well known for its wine, since the days of Ancient Greece.imagesCAP0CZQ6


It is called the “Florence of Southern Italy” because of its rich historical past and the numbers of churches dotting its maze of medieval streets, where you’ll find Renaissance palaces, beautiful piazzas, and views of inspiring landscapes. Gerace is also included on the list of the I Borghi piu Belli d’Italia–the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Walking through the town, visitors can admire the castle and the cathedral, both dating back to the Norman times, the architecture is characterized by multiple styles including Byzantine, Gothic and Roman.

 

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Among the many churches, the one topping the list should be The Cathedral Of Gerace.
It was built on the remains of a pre-existing sacred structure devoted to Aghìa Kyriakì (Saint Ciriaca) dating back to the eighth century, between 1085 and 1120, under Norman domination.

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The church, dedicated to the Madonna of the Assumption, is the most representative monument of Byzantine-Romanesque-Norman style in Calabria and is impressive both inside and outside

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Second on the list is the church of San Francesco (Square of the three churches), containing a precious Baroque altar. The altar represents the synthesis of artistic experiences in Europe, occupying a central position in southern baroque art. The foundation dates back to 1296. The portal is a triple archway decorated with Arabic-Swabian geometric friezes.unname2d

 

Next is a stroll to the Porta del Sole (Sun Gate) one of the few remaining doors once used as part of the defensive system protecting the town…

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If you’re Italian is up to it, contact Marisa Ranieri, a local professor of ancient history, who can take you around to show you this place she loves so much. You can write to her at luisa.ranieri@tin.it to arrange a tour.

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If you’re interested in organized activities or tours, contact Mr Giuseppe Piazzese, the owner of Ancient Paths, (Sentieri Antichi) a local travel consultant (giuseppe.piazzese@antichisentieri.it)

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If you’re up for a more active adventure, to discover the rugged Aspromonte mountain (and experience this beautiful area via kayak,mountain bike, or canoeing), contact Beppe and Demi (Aspromonte Wild) at info@aspromontewild.it.

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There are many places to taste delicious Calabrian specialties. Near the Cathedral, In Piazza del Tocco you will find Bar del Tocco, a heaven for ice cream lovers.

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Nearby (Via Cesare Battisti) is the enoteca Cantina del Barone, owned by Francesco and Rocco, featuring traditional products from the area, such as salami and wine. (ask for the ‘fettata casareccia”, a mix of sliced cheeses and salami) Tel. 347.1687363 – info@gerace-enoteca.it .

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For those who prefer a more traditional setting, A Squella, owned by Zio Franco (uncle Frank) is the place to visit.
The restaurant is located in an old olive mill on Via V. Della Resistenza (tel: 0964 356086- ristorante_asquella@live.it) .
It offers a typical Calabrian cuisine with appetizers, pasta and home-made cakes, grilled meat and grilled dishes as well as fish in the summer season.

 

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A specialty of the area is the Stockfish which is offered at most of the restaurants in Gerace.

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A beautiful place to stay is Villarosa, located a few miles from Gerace, among old olive trees, with a terrace for you to enjoy breathtaking views. It has 3 large bedrooms, and Rosanna, the owner , a native of Gerace now living in the  USA, can be contacted at the following e-mail address  : rosannaroe@yahoo.com

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Or there is B&B Giardino di Gerace . It’s uniquely positioned on the slopes of Gerace with five terraced gardens all facing the beautiful Ionian sea. It is owned by Professor Scaglione who also speaks fluently English, and you can take language and cooking classes there.
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For shopping, you’ll find a beautiful display of locally made ceramics at Condo’ Ceramiche, by Giovanni, in Via Sottoprefettura, not far from the Cathedral.

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A not so well known product, exclusively to this area is the Bergamotto. The fruit (a citrus look like) is not edible and is cultivated for production of its essential oil which is extracted from the ripe fruit peel and is used extensively in perfumery for its sweet freshness. The oil can be found at Antichi Sapori di Calabria, Via Zaleuco 23.

frutti_di_bergamottoCome visit in late spring, up until June, and September to October, when the weather is ideal!

Grazie mille Domenico, for turning us on to this undiscovered treasure of Calabria! I hope to get there soon…

For details about a special Calabria Tour offered by Made in Southern Italy today, Click Here.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. karenincalabria permalink
    March 29, 2015 10:48 pm

    Ciao Domenico and Susan,
    Thanks for this informative post. I encourage everyone to visit Made in South Italy Today’s site for more information and photos of the area.
    Gerace is truly a charming town and one of Calabria’s many “must sees.” I lived in the region for several years, two of which I spent in Locri, which was settled in the 19th century as Gerace Marina when the railroad was built and the population began moving from the hills to the seasides. 7 centuries BC, however, the Greeks founded an important colony called Locri Epizephyrii just a few kilometers down the coast. The remains of ancient Locri can be visited and there are many beautiful artifacts from the area in its museum as well as in the National Archeological Museum in Reggio (along with the famous bronzes). I write extensively about this area in my book CALABRIA: THE OTHER ITALY.
    Karen

  2. May 7, 2014 8:32 pm

    Wonderful! My husband’s ancestors are from Calabria. Thanks for sharing!

  3. April 29, 2014 2:43 pm

    Ciao, very nice post about Gerace which is one of the most picturesque and interesting towns in Calabria! I wil visit again this summer and follow your hints, grazie Susan & Domnico!

  4. April 29, 2014 2:41 pm

    Ciao, beautiful post about Gerace, one of my favorite towns in Calabria! I will visit again this summer and check-out all your hints, grazie Susan & Domenico

  5. April 16, 2014 4:23 pm

    Susan, thank you for a wonderful introduction to the charms of Calabria. I am planning a first time solo trip through southern Italy in Spring of 2015 and this is very inspiring and helpful.

    • April 16, 2014 4:42 pm

      That’s great news! I hope you get in touch with some of the natives we featured on the blog–they’d be so happy to meet you! Buon viaggio!

      • April 16, 2014 4:43 pm

        Susan, yes I have bookmarked the page and intend to. Thank you so much for providing the info!

  6. April 15, 2014 10:42 am

    Hello Susan, un grazie di cuore (heartfelt thank you) for giving me the opportunity to share with you and your readers a little bit of Calabria. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how knowledgeable you are and how genuine your interest is about Italy and its mosaic of cultures and traditions
    Hope to meet you there one day .
    Ancora una volta, grazie tante.
    Domenico

    • April 15, 2014 3:45 pm

      Prego Domenico! It’s such a pleasure to meet people like you and to find out about places I never would have discovered on my own. Yes, I do hope to get there before too long!

  7. April 14, 2014 5:22 pm

    May your dreams come true!

  8. April 14, 2014 4:35 pm

    It’s spring here in NYC, but nothing looks quite as beautiful as this! Grazie! I’m dreaming of my trip, someday, someday …

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