“Costa dei jasmine”, “Coast of the Caretta Caretta Turtles”, is also how it is called Brancaleonee in general the jonic band of the province of Reggio Calabria.
It is in the town of Brancaleone that the jasmine plant was imported from Liguria, around 1928. Its cultivation, introduced in Europe in the sixteenth century, boasts an ancient history, dating back to many centuries before Christ, when its flowers were used to celebrate the sacred rites in India and Nepal. Having arrived in the Greek territory, thanks to the land reclamation provided by the Experimental Essence Station of Reggio Calabria, it gave rise to the construction of important cultivation plants, which fueled a very profitable perfumery industry, in addition to specifically marking the area, together with the cultivation of the precious green gold, the bergamot.
But Brancaleone is also known for being the “cradle” of an important project that aims to protect one of the most endangered species of the Mediterranean, the Caretta Caretta Turtle. This is where the Marine Turtle Recovery Center is located, which carries out an important recovery and treatment of this species. The Grecian beaches are the main nesting area of the whole Mediterranean of this species, hosting in fact 70% of the nests registered in Italy. Thanks to the “Tarta Care” project carried out by the staff of researchers of the University of Calabria, since 2000 this species has been subjected to monitoring and protection and more than 10,000 small turtles have come to light on the Ionian coast.
The village was called in the past Sperlonga or Sperlinga. This name was then replaced by Mottaleonis, composed of motta (rise) and lion, probably with a metaphorical sense. The current name seems to refer to the Latin branca (in reference to the shape of a lion’s paw).
Brancaleone Marina, now home to a Caretta Caretta turtle recovery center, keeps alive the memory of Cesare Pavese who was confined here by the fascists, between 1935 and 1936. The story of Brancaleone is linked to the abandoned village behind it. , called the old Brancaleone.
Brancaleone vecchio, anciently called Sperlinga, from the Greek Spèlugx, or cave, stands on a ridge that is a little less than 300 meters high. This center was built on a vast complex of rock environments, used by hermits between the 8th and 10th centuries. d.C., as places of meditation. Recent archaeological excavations, on the eastern side of the ancient Addolorata church, have highlighted how some of them were transformed into silos for foodstuffs, indispensable for the life of a small village, perhaps fortified in the late Byzantine period. The highest point of the fortress housed a fortress, documented among the properties of the Ruffo in the fourteenth century, when the site began to take the name of Motta Leonis.
In 1489, the building is listed as a castles that the Aragonese thought they had to expand, to better strengthen the defenses of the Kingdom. In 1515 by the Ayerbo of Aragon, Brancaleone passed in 1571 to the Spatafora from which it arrived to the Carafa until 1806. The village is divided into two nuclei: the first is located near the site of the ancient Church Matrice dell’Addolorata, of only the walking surface remains, the second extends further south, behind the Archpriest Church of the Annunciation, built in the seventeenth century on a flat terracing, at the entrance to the town, perhaps on the remains of the Cappuccini monastery.
Near the church of the Addolorata, adjacent to the square of a recent archaeological excavation, survives a rock church, carved into the tufa, with a column carved in the center in the center. Next to the entrance there is an altar which bears the symbol of the cross flanked by a praying bird, probably a dove or a peacock. On the western side of the village there is another cave, decorated in the Modern age with a scene of angels in the presence of the Virgin.
In Brancaleone it is still possible to see the exile house of Cesare Pavese. The writer and intellectual was confined here by the regime for suspected anti-fascist activity, from 1935 to 1936; Here he wrote the diary “Il mestiere di Vivere” and the first novel “Il Carcere”. Far from his Turin, Pavese loved and despised at one time that land and those people who hosted him and wrote in a letter to his sister: “these people are of a tact and a courtesy that have only one explanation: here once the civilization It was Greek. “At Brancaleone it is still possible to see Cesare Pavese’s exile. The writer and intellectual was confined here by the regime for suspected anti-fascist activity, from 1935 to 1936; Here he wrote the diary “Il mestiere di Vivere” and the first novel “Il Carcere”. Far from his Turin, Pavese loved and despised at one time that land and those people who hosted him and wrote in a letter to his sister: “these people are of a tact and a courtesy that have only one explanation: here once the civilization it was Greek “.
DISCOVER THE TOWN
Brancaleone Superiore is a small and picturesque village, so a must visit the old town, where you can take a ride through the abandoned houses enjoying a picturesque view. Also to be visited are the beaches of Brancaleone Marina and the Caretta Caretta Marine Turtles recovery center.