Slow holidays in Calabria all year long
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The Rupestrian Palmenti of Santa Caterina dello Ionio

The clayey hills of Santa Caterina dello Ionio, immersed in an evocative natural landscape peppered with olive groves and wild lands, contain a scattering of ancient rupestrian palmenti, testifying to the rural and social role that these lands had over the centuries. Palmenti are basins dug into the rock, in this case in the local granite, used for the processing and transformation of agricultural products, such as grapes or cereals. We cannot say with certainty in which historical period they were built; the presence of Byzantine crosses hints at something about their origins, but there is the possibility that these outlines were imprinted in later periods. The palmenti generally consisted of an irregularly-shaped upper tub, in which the must would be crushed with the bare feet, which was then plugged with clay. After one day and one night, the plug was removed, and the must would flow through a channel into the lower tank. Various written testimonies assert to the great oenological vocation that these sites had in the past – the clayey and sandy terrain favoured the growth of this and other crops, with the support of the constant activities of the Eastern monks. Presumably in later times, the palmenti tubs were also used to break down the wheat, from which flour resulted.


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