HANDICRAFT AND ECONOMICAL ACTIVITIES
Later than in other southern Regions, still today Calabria is a marginal economical reality in our Country.
What are the causes of this well-known emargination?
The primary reason is due to the enormous migratory flux caused by the very high unemployment decree, thus followed by the decline of agricolture, by the lack of a developed industry and the often cahotic explosion of the tertiary.
In these last 20 years the State has also tried to solve the economic problems of the Region, but without a planned action. For this reason Calabria also occupies one of the last positions in the national classifications concerning individual income, production and consumption.
The difficulties sometimes present in northern areas cannot be compared with the serious problems relative to Calabrian economics. The development process that has first involved North Italy and later on Southern Italy, has hardly involved Calabria, often creating serious damages due to thoughtless interventions.
In spite of all this, today in Calabria there is a new optimistic and trustful attitude. Of course the renewal process that has been triggered off, can be but slow and progressive. In fact the desire to change must be the expression of a diffused civil coscience and must also be reinforced by the will of the Regional Institutionsin order to be spread to everybody.
It is notorius that the most fruitfull industry is the one concerning leisure time. In short time tourism has overwelmed over allother traditional economical activities.From Sila, sung by Virgil, to Scilla known by Ulisses, few countries in the world have a so great a variety of aspects and so many landscapes as Calabria has.
Crystalline grounds, waters and woods favour an intense thermal activity that is already present in numerous centres that show landscapes full of art and natural beauties.Such as: Luigiane Spas at Guardia Piemontese, those at Cerchiara di calabria, Galatro's, Cassano allo Jonio, Sibari's, Spezzano Albanese's, Antonimina's, Cotronei's and Caronte at Lametia Terme.Only a careful planning, linked to the respect for nature may be the winning card for a Region that has so wide a range of beauties: from the wonderful sea to long beaches, from hidden spots to the charm of a green paradise: the immense Sila, the big park that is the site of Pino Loricato, Pollino, Serre, Aspromonte and then unpolluted flora and fauna.
In Calabria you can spend your time at the sea and in a few minutes you can get to mountains where you can make excursions or stay both in winter and in summer......
Here are the ingredients for a future revaluation of our Country.
- - - - - - - - -
Perhaps in only few Regions like Calabria, handicraft has achieved such a great development.Calabrian handicraft has very old origins. It has found a great development in all human activities. If Calabria has achieved a big diffusion in the pottery field handicraft,
it is in the musical instruments that it has reached its utmost expression. it is in the musical instruments that it has reached its utmost expression.At Bisignano there are important lutemaker families that since the 18th century have been making concert guitars, mandolins and above all violins one of which was probably bought by Verdi.
Pottery production is yet the primary handicraft activity in Calabria. Pottery shops are diffused in many centres from Altomonte to Gerace, Belcastro, Seminara, Palmi. Craftsmen continue to work almost everything: barrels of differenti measures to make wine, pannels with religiuos subjects, pots and colourful "quartane". At Locri Pinakes are still produced using Greek models. Amphorae and oil-lamps are made at Squillace "oriolari" and "salaturi", while at Gioiosa and Roccella you can find "cuccume" and "quartarelle", at Soriano garden pots and tiles. And the list could also continue endlessly.
Wooden handicraft is also one of the oldest and the most remarkable in Calabria, supported by the richness of the Aspromonte woods and by the craftsmen's mastery who are very good at engraving, carving, shaping, inlaying. Rogliano is a well known centre of this artistic handicraft with specialists in sculptures and bas-relief for churches. The ordinary modern productions concern chairs, mortars, long spoons, sticks with animal-shaped handles and furnishings. Buildig-yards are above all developed in the coast villages: Pizzo, Paola, Cetraro etc.
Finally in the province of Reggio Calabria there are many shops for briar working and the production of good pipes. On the contrary women free their fantasy by working woolen and silik fabrics. An example is the so-called "pezzare" made in Polistena (Reggio Cal.). They are colourful blankets made of rags twisted and linked through coloured threads.
Another typical product is represented by broom blankets that change colour according to the change of seasons and what about cloths and embroideries by Tiriolo's women, in the province of Catanzaro, where the "vancole" are reknown, they are coloured woolen striped shawls.
At Carfissi, Palagonia, San Nicola old looms are still made by working in ordar to weave wool, velvet, damask and expensive silk. But also in other centres the production is very fervent: Platania, Petrizzi, Cortale, Fagnana Castello, Rombiolo where once hemp was also produced, and then Palizzi, Ardore, Gioiosa, Polistena without forgetting Longobucco, famous for gobelins, and San Giovanni in Fiore where woolen carpets are produced able to compete with eastern carpets.
In Calabria there are also craftsman working wrought iron, working brass; pewter, tin to make balconies, fences, gates, oil lamps, plates and branched candlesticks. And then goldsmiths and silversmiths that mould foils and use the burin to produce earrings, necklaces, jewels, pendants often reproducing ancient forms. The prince of calabrian goldsmiths is Gerardo Sacco with his laboratory in Crotone : his artistic creations are of course well-known all over the world.
Another typical handicraft activity, even if secondary, is basket-makery. It is a very diffused activity in Soriano and during the regional feasts, basket-makers show their own typical hand manufactured articles : round and oval wicker baskets.
In the alimentary field the preserves, that first were an activity only limited to the family, is slowly becoming an interesting activity organized in little and medium laboratories that mainly use mushrooms, tomatoes, aubergines, red pepper and spicy sauces, tuna, traditional pasta, sausages etc.
Just a slight mention must be done about the industry regarding the working and transformation of citrus fruit. Good calabrian production is often obtained locally in order to extract juices, essences and essential oils with very high quality standards. Unfortunately the international competition interposed considerable obstacles to the exportation, thus limiting a field that once was very remunerative.
It is enough to say that bergamot is a fruit growing only in a little calabrian area, in the province of Reggio Calabria, favoured by a very particular climate and which essence is extracted through a very ancient working, thus representing the basis for the best perfumes and cosmetics.
In Reggio, the city of "Morgan le Fay" is famous for the mildest climate in Italy, perfumes and essences are lost in the mists of time; worth of mention is the working of jasmine for lavander water and eau-de-cologne or the sweet jasmine scent, or finally the rare tropical fruit fragrance such as the "annona" that here grows spontaneausly.
(1) Incontro con la Calabria - Laruffa Editore - Reggio Calabria