History of Calabria

the picture is taken from Pellegrina looking down on the seacosttown of Bagnara Calabra.

As many of you know, my parents (and extended family) were all born in the southern Italian province of Calabria (specifically in a tiny hilltop village called Pellegrina).  The region of Calabria is comprised of mountains, multiple seas, farms, small and large towns, and even a few urban centers.  The history of Calabria is tumultuous and is part of why the Italian region has been so underrepresented in the Italian storybook (afterall, you don’t hear tourists talking about their trip to Reggio or their recent wine and food tasting tour of the Calabrian country side <this is changing, however, and the secret may be getting out!>).

the village of Pellegrina and associated villages.


If you’re interested in reading more about Calabria you can quickly read a history of Calabria via Michelle from Bleeding Espresso.  Michelle also has a great book resource page where she highlights books about the Calabrian region (make sure to sort the books by “southern Italy”).


In terms of an accessible cookbook on the food of Calabria, I really like Mary Palmer’s Cucina di Calabria.  Not only is Palmer’s book full of easy recipes, there’s also some great content on the history of Calabria, the story of immigration, and the beverages and wine of the region.  New on the market is Rosetta Costantino’s My Calabria which contains many beautiful pictures, recipes, and a historical background on Calabria.


  1. Wow, Vince! Calabria is beautiful!!! Do you visit there much?

  2. Thanks for the mention, Vince! I love Mary’s cookbook too; the little stories with each recipe are so wonderful as well 🙂

  3. Hi Paul, thanks, Calabria is a very pretty region. We try and visit every few years; I used to go back with my family more often when I was a child. We’re hoping to plan a trip soon!

  4. Hi Michelle,
    My pleasure, i think your history section is well written and really concise! Mary’s book is good and I think she covers the basic really well, the section on wine is nice as well!
    Hope the Spring weather is starting to appear in Calabria.

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  6. Vin: interesting links. I had the great fortune to visit Calabria several years ago and it is a remarkable place, with much history and natural beauty.

  7. Wow, Calabria looks great. Those are some of the nicer pictures I have seen in sometime.

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  22. I love Calabria as well because it’s where my family originated from. Mum is from Cosenza province and Dad is from Catanzaro province. I myself was born and live in Australia. I was last in Calabria 14 years ago but did not understand or know anything about its “REAL” history until the last several years. The things that I have learned about Calabria’s history is just amazing and astonishing. For example, does anyone realize that Calabria gave Italy its name ?? Yes, it’s true folks. Look at this link and read about the history to see that I am right about this:
    (link is from Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Calabria’s history was mainly influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Angevins and the Aragonese. It most famous people are a who’s who of historical figures that have contributed to Italian, European and world history. Get to know the real history of Calabria and not this rubbish that is thrown by the northern Italians and the modern media. Oh, and by the way, there is a book called “Calabria the first Italy” by Gertrude Slaughter which was published in 1939. I have a copy of this book and it is a real eye opener. Though it is difficult to get copies of this book but I tell you something, try to get a copy. You won’t be sorry.

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