Calabria: the birthplace of the Mediterranean well-being

New York, 26 June 2016 – Regione Calabria, Department of Tourism – “Culti e Culture” (Rites and Cultures) – and Department of Economic Development is glad to present the great Calabrian food and wine and tourist heritage together with the “Rosso Calabria” brand to the audience in New York. Since ancient times, red has always been connected to precious things, and “Rosso Calabria” is a tribute to the unique grape varieties of this region, a synonym for high quality, history and innovation within the winemaking industry. 

Regione Calabria introduces its tourist and food and wine offer at Summer Fancy Food 2016, the main American food and wine fair. The Italian food is surely the most famous and appreciated cuisine in the United States, and Summer Fancy Food is the main opportunity for Italy to highlight its best traditional products, unique specialities and innovative dishes from most of the Italian regions. Italy boasts the higher attendance rate, since it has always participated in this event since the first edition held in 1955. For the 2016 edition, Regione Calabria will welcome the visitors at Booth 226, Level Three, inside the Unioncamere pavillion. 

During this three-day fair, the American and international participants will be able to taste and learn about the traditional Calabrian specialities, thus getting in touch with a vast land featuring not only sea and coasts, but also a charming hinterland, mountains, ancient historical and cultural traditions and a wide variety of customs and religious rites. Regione Calabria has already developed a programme to relaunch its tourist sector through numerous activities and events, all included a project which combines nature, culture, history and tradition. Within this context, the “Culti e Culture di Calabria” (Calabrian Rites and Cultures) project is the flagship of this programme, designed to diversify the existing offer along a journey through nature, folklore and art. 

This project provides a wider audience with almost unknown destinations and unusual itineraries at the discovery of the roots of our culture, with the purpose of introducing a seasonal adjustment of the tourist offer and especially telling the secrets of this territory through history, the richness of its landscape and the multi-ethnic culture dating back to ancient times.

Any travel to Calabria will give you the chance to personally see the local peculiarities of Calabria and taste its specialities and recipes dating back to the Magna Graecia. Moreover, it is worth stressing that in Calabria there are 350 grape varieties, including, some rare and famous ones, which have been preserved over the centuries, thanks to the isolation of the inland over the centuries. A glass of the wine produced in this territory is like a time travel back in time, about three thousand years ago. These wines are rich in history and biodiversity and act as a cultural attraction for the whole region, which aims at becoming the birthplace of the Mediterranean well-being. The agri-food industry reflects the true identity of Calabria: in fact, in 1960, Professor Ancel Keysha regarded the town of Nicotera as the cradle of the “Mediterranean diet”, currently recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage. 

Calabria has always been considered one of the most interesting and unspoilt Italian regions thanks to its multi-faceted landscape dotted with beaches, clear shorelines, steep cliffs and framed by rough mountains and green forests. To tell the truth, nature is just one of the numerous reasons to visit these amazing territories. 

For example, in the higher part of Cosenza facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, there is the Riviera dei Cedri, characterised by various torrents which reach the sea after having carved some canyons in the Pollino massif, which are particularly suitable for rafting. The heart of this imposing massif features small groups of villages belonging to the Arbëreshë culture and founded by the Albanians who landed on the Calabrian shoreline starting from the fifteenth century to escape from their land subjected to the Ottomans. The inhabitants of Lungro, Firmo, Acquaformosa, Frascineto e Civita still speak the Albanian language and practice Greek – Byzantine rites, and the architecture of the religious buildings in these countries shows peculiar and fascinating characteristics.

Going back to the Riviera dei Cedri, in addition to the picturesque torrents , this part of Calabria also features cedar tree forests, where these trees are cultivated with the utmost care to produce the cedars: considering the climatic conditions and the characteristics of the soil required by this fruit, it can be regarded as a niche production in the whole world. In Santa Maria del Cedro (CS), a centuries-old tradition, handed down since 1200, still survives: every year in August, the cedars are picked by rabbis coming from all over the world, who then select the best fruits intended for Sukkòth, a Jewish religious rite.

South of the Ionian side, in the province of Reggio Calabria, in the southern point of the peninsula, the Riviera dei Gelsomini is dotted with the cultivation of jasmine, a scented, beautiful and strong climbing plant particularly widespread between Stilo and Capo Spartivento, whose flowers were collected by some women called ‘gelsominiae’ and sold to France for the production of perfumes.

Exciting perfumes also permeate the Bergamot Museum, near the city centre of Reggio Calabria: a magical and unique place. Since 1704 this essential oil has been one of the main ingredients of the so-called “acqua admiralis”, later called “Water of Cologne.” Nowadays, the bergamot essential oil is used by the perfume industry to enhance the aromatic bouquet and balance the various scents. Famous international fashion brands like Burberry and Dolce and Gabbana have chosen to add these intense and unique scents to their refined perfumes. 

Calabria is a land rich in thousand-year old stories, crossed by cultures from the whole Mediterranean basin which have combined and have lasted until today: here, the alternating dominations have left strong marks in the language, traditions and rites of each country. Moreover, besides striking places like the medieval town of Gerace, further south there is the Grecanic area, a typical example of cultural enclave kept intact over time, where one of the few Grecan communities still speaks its ancient language.

Last but not least, it is worth mentioning the inestimable value of the historical and artistic heritage of Calabria, which is surely one of the strengths underlying the tourist enactment programme promoted by Regione Calabria with the purpose of raising the awareness of its splendour. The whole territory of the region is rich in historical artefacts, a true open-air museum, whose individual area tells a thousand-year old story: Sibarys, Locri Epizefiri, the remains of Kroton, – an ancient Achaean settlement, which once hosted the Pythagorean school of philosophy – represent a great resource worth being discovered, which has only partially revealed its potential with the breath-taking Riance Bronzes. Every year, thousands of tourists visit the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria to admire these masterpieces, which were found out in the Sea of Riace, along the Calabrian ionic coast where, still today, the turtles come to spawn.

This is the complex framework of the “Rosso Calabria” brand. The viticulture in Calabria is deeply rooted in the past of this region. As early as the eighth century B.C., the Greeks called this area Oenotria, praising the quality of its local

grapes. In order to tell this story and enhance the heritage of this region, the “Rosso Calabria” brand has been established. 

“Rosso Calabria” has thus become a platform which collects and promotes the Calabrian wines, from Gaglioppo to Magliocco, through Nerello, Greco Nero and Castiglione. These grape varieties are extremely important for the Calabrian oenology, and, precisely through this brand, can be enhanced and promoted among the consumers.

Red is the colour of passion, considering the care with which the farmers carry out their daily work and which has urged the regional institution to develop an ambitious project that gathers the local producers and ensures high quality standards. Its aim is to expand the market both at a national and at an international level, through a targeted programme with reference to specific “mature” addresses, who already know the Italian wine but may be pleasantly surprised by Calabria.

Rosso Calabria includes a unique heritage which tells the story of a land able to boast a great wealth: about 350 grape varieties, 12 thousand hectares of vineyards and a production rate amounting to 400 thousand hectolitres per year, of which 70% of red wine and 30% of white winr. Every year 10 million bottles are placed on the market, of which 15% are intended for the foreign ones, with special reference to Germany. The main production areas are located in Crotone, Cosenza, Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria. From north to south, the local Calabrian grape varieties yield a wide range of wine, of which 9 hold a PDO (Italian DOP) certification and 9 a PGI (Italian IGP) denomination.



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