Bovesìa, where they still speak Greek in Calabria

bovaCalabria, a crossroads of Mediterranean cultures. A land where the blending of stories and artistic and idiomatic experiences is a reality, an accessible reality, even today, despite the uniforming effects of mass culture.

They fit into this framework, the “peculiarities” of the Hellenic greek area on southern slopes of the Jonico Aspromonte.  Also known as Bovesìa (or simply Bovesia), named after one of the municipalities that fall within Bova.  Because of morphological harshness of its territory, for centuries it has been a sort of “protected island” in the regional landscape, away from linguistic-cultural influences that could harm the preservation of its Hellenistic character.

The Greece of Calabria, also called grecanico or greek vutano (from Vùa meaning Bova), together with that of Greek Salento, is a language belonging to the Greek linguistic minority of Italy. A language which, due to evolution, endured over the centuries and was spoken throughout the southern part of Calabria up to the XV-XVI century when it was gradually replaced by local dialect.

There are many congruities between this language and Modern Greek, but regarding its origin, there are differing opinions among scholars, between those who support its Hellenistic-Byzantine origin and who recognizes it as a direct descendent from spoken greek in Ancient Greece. The latter view is supported by the fact it retains words completely unknown (or missing) in Greece today, some of which date back to the Doric period.www.maridelsud.com

There are eleven municipalities that fall within this area: Bova and Bova Marina, Bagaladi, Brancaleone, Condofuri, Melito P.S., Palizzi, Roccaforte Del Greco, Roghudi, San Lorenzo, and Staiti. To this list we should add Gallicianò, a hamlet of just 60 inhabitants of the municipality of Condofuri, considered the Acropolis of Magna Grecia in Calabria, if only because it is the only Calabrian village still entirely Hellenistic.

Throughout Gallicianò, they are for the most part conserving Hellenistic traditions, not only through the language but also music, cuisine and religion. Here, near the ruins of the Byzantine Church of Our Lady of Greece was rebuilt the church of the same name, which in 1999 was consecrated by the metropolita Iennadio, where once a month mass is celebrated according to the greek-orthodox rite.

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A mention must Pentedattilo (fraction of Melito Porto Salvo), a small village nestled between the Aspromonte mountains, whose name derives from the massive rock shaped like a hand (penta daktylos, five fingers). The “hand of the Devil,” according to some legends, for centuries, has linked the small town with its fantastic and mysterious stories.

Subject to total depopulation in recent decades, today, thanks to the initiative of a network of associations, the village came back to life in the form of “integrated village,” with the organization of, among other things, a series arts and crafts laboratories.Pentedattilo02

By merit of the Association Pro Pentedattilo, hence, by the Agency of the Villages in solidarity, as well as the many young people who flock here every year for the Campi della legalità, (promoted by Arci e Libera), Pentedattilo has lost the evocative aura of being a “ghost town” and has gained a new life.