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The ancient heart of Calabria

creato da Fabio Bonvicini ultima modifica 20/06/2008 15:12

We go to a traditional festival in Calabria and discover an ancient culture which is a living link to the glory that was Greece...

The ancient heart of Calabria The VIIth edition of Megàlochòro, (the site hasn't been updated but you should get an idea of what it's like), a festival of traditional music and dance held under the shadow of Aspromonte in the very tip of Calabria, took place between August 21st and 27th.
The festival is held in the small town of Cataforìo in the hills overlooking Reggio Calabria. The town bustles with life throughout the festival opening its doors to welcome the guests. The old primary school, unfinished houses, spare rooms and garages are all made available. The village square is the hub of the event hosting traditional dances every day. Everywhere you look there are lyres, barrel organs, tambourines and all pipes imaginable. Megàlochòro means the big dance in Grecanico, the minority language spoken in the area which is the legacy of the Ancient Greek invasions of Calabria. The festival is a celebration of ancient cultures and is a must for anyone who is interested in the preservation of traditional ways.
The days are centred around instrument workshops. The instruments are often as hard and unforgiving as the land and people who produced them and the morning and afternoon sessions are demanding on the aspiring musicians. Dinner is traditional fare and afterwards everyone heads for the square for the evening's dance. Music is provided courtesy of local musicians and a master of ceremonies - lu mastru a ballu - leads the dancers in the twisting and turning tarantella which is typical of this area.
The ancient heart of Calabria There's little variation in the music and the rhythm is repetitive. Indeed this repetitiveness distinguishes Grecanico music from other similar styles. Each player has his own passage which varies so slightly that it is virtually imperceptible to the untrained ear. Ettore Castagna, organiser of the festival and artistic director of Medmedia explains that the music of this area is based around single passages which are repeated with variations. The magic and force of the music comes from its tautological rhythms.
But there's more to Megàlochòro than the music. The festival opens the doors on the Grecanico culture, a little-known but important part of Calabria's cultural heritage. By travelling throughout the area, visiting places and meeting people you will take an extraordinary journey through this ancient traditional way of life which is still alive, if not thriving, in the South of Calabria.
Bova is the doorway to the Grecanico area. Built at 820 metres above sea level, just 15 kilometres from the coast, the drive up is difficult to say the least. Don't be put off by the hairpin bends as Bova is well-worth visiting for the view alone as well as its picturesque streets, square and churches.
The mysterious and somewhat unsettling ruins of Pentedattilo - from the Greek 'five fingers' - jut into the sky like the hand they are named after.
Visiting the tiny village of Gallicianò di Condofuri is a moving experience. Gallicianò is at the end of a dirt track, in the heart of the Grecanico area. Here the road signs are bilingual and the people speak little Italian (Calabrian dialect where you're lucky). The future of the Grecanico people is precarious, we hope they will win their battle to survive for at least another 2,500 years.

Calabriaweb - -Calabria's portal
Medmedia - - All the traditions of the Grecanico culture
Bova - - Discover the village of Bova in the heart of the Grecanico area of Calabria

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