Calabria, the toes of Italy, is a land famous for its food and drink, bergomot and tortoises. But perhaps less well known is that it retains communities decescended from ancient, and later Byzantine, Greek settlers from the period of Magna Greece, when the ancient Greeks were the dominant miltary, political and cultural power in the Eastern Mediterrean.
Bro. Antonino, a recently made mason in the Manor of Faversham lodge, is desceneded from one such community, who maintain many Greek traditions and continue to speak in a langage known as Greko. Keen to share the wonder of his heritage, he organised a week in Calabria for brethren of his and other lodges, some of whom were joined by their adult children.
First up was a trip to Galliciano’, a community up in the mountains, of no more than 20. This was followed by trips to Pentedattilo and Bova. Traditional crafts and ways of living, and earning a living, were eagarly shared by members of these communities, some of which had never before received English vistors (and, yes, they would like to see us again). The locals may be related to the ancient Greeks but their attutude to eating and drinking is as Italian as elsewhere, and each trip involved a lunch of impossible length and breadth! And with plenty of locally produced ‘house’ wine to wash it down.
During their trip they were also able to take in the coastal town of Scilla, made famous in Homer’s Odessey. There was also time to visit the second oldest settlement of a Jewish community in Italy and to visit the Aragonian castle in Reggio.
So taken by it all, one brother has already been back to spend more time with the locals and another trip will be organised in 2025!