Calitri, an ancient village in southern Italy
"Antico Borgo Calitri"
The Antico Borgo Calitri, a stunning residential medieval hamlet, where a select of variety of activities and attractions can Antico Borgo Calitribe found. It takes about an eight minute walk from one side to the other side on the Antico Borgo Calitri. The Borgo is embraced by the more modern part of Calitri and takes about an eight minute walk to get to the more modern section. Calitri is bustling and busy in certain parts of the day where between 1-4pm everyone goes home for lunch or nap, then it become alive again.
Many itineraries to choose ranging from those focusing on medieval archeology, thermal baths, wine production and tasting , to those focusing on traditional arts, learning the local cuisine , ceramics and needlepoint. Visitors can partake in all of these, safe in the knowledge that by doing so they will be helping keep these traditions alive. Alternatively, one can benefit from thecalitri peace and quiet and the relaxed country living to just get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The 'Antico Borgo Calitri' is in the oldest section of the 6,500-strong town and is dominated by the castle which predates the 12th century. The town is known to locals as the 'Positano d'Irpinia' because its pastel colors and architecture reflect those of the villages on the Amalfi coast. Calitri is surrounded by idyllic countryside interspersed with rivers, lakes, fields, woods and archeological ruins.
Here, old folk traditions are very much woven into every day life, with the whole community working towards keeping their ancestor's heritage alive and at the same time maintaining the high standards of service that an excellent location, a variety of traditions, and a rich agriculture-based economy permits. Those spending time in the area can enjoy the many village fairs, local food festivals, markets and commemorative processions that take place in the piazzas and the alleys of little villages in Irpinia and Vulture.
"History of Calitri"
The locals have witnessed many wars and invasions in centuries gone by. There are many visible signs of the presence of the Romans, the Longobards, the Aragoneses and the Bourbons. Medieval historical centres and old castles are a must for the discerning visitor, who can also look to the visit for tranquillity, hospitality and a high quality of life.
The origins of Calitri are lost in the mists of time, and the town and its surroundings are dotted with archeological remains Calitri countrysidedating back from ancient Rome. With the passing of the centuries the area became an important route of communication and transport connecting the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic coast. It fell under the reign of Fedric II of Svevia during the 12th century and was subjected to Spanish dominion, and later became difficult to visit when many locals became makeshift highway men in a bid to combat Napoleonic dominion in the 800s. This turned the region into an isolated, insecure and poor area, which in turn encouraged workers and families in the early 1900s to emigrate to the richer north of Italy as well as North and South America in search of a better future, abandoning many villages and towns. The local economy also suffered from an earthquake in the 1980s similar to one in that took place in the region of Umbria in 1997.
"Calitri and its food"
It is ironical that in a town that was a considerable producer of durum wheat like Calitri, most of its people, because of their dire poverty, had to depend for their sustenance as a rule on maize and chick peas.
In the more distant past, only the fortunate few could afford wheat bread. The rest of the population, namely those who broke their backs with hard work and had callous hands, could afford this luxury only when they were with a foot in the grave (hence, even today in Calitri, the expression used to indicate that an individual is on death’s doorstep is “he/she is at the whole-wheat bread stage”.
Bread for the poor consisted of wheat flour mixed with ground chick peas and corn. Another basic food was corn pizza, cooked on heated stone slabs.
The most common food taken with bread was peppers, mostly of the hot variety. Condiments like fatback and lard were used very sparingly. Oil was used least of all because too expensive.
The artisan class had their main meal at noon, while the farmers had theirs in the evening.
Depending on the season, there could be a prevalence of small onions, then lettuce, chick peas, fresh peas, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, turnips, cabbage and Savoy cabbage.
In all seasons, the food prepared most regularly was a soup of greens (m’nestra) consisting for the most part of wild greens, varieties of chicory and borage, all plentiful and inexpensive.
Also widely used were dry legumes (mostly chick peas, lentils) and stockfish.
When a hog was slaughtered, for days in a row people ate offal and giblets, and—because it could not be preserved for long—fresh pork.
On holidays a few glasses of wine were customary, whereas meat, whether poultry or lamb, was a luxury, and its use was limited to major holidays, mainly Christmas and Easter.
As late as the 1930s, the consumption of freshly-butchered meat was so scant that local butchers preferred to take turns slaughtering a few lambs. Beef sold at the butcher shops was mostly low-grade, derived from animals slaughtered because of injuries.