Montepaone is synonymous of “holiday”. Sea-holidays of course, thanks to its golden and long free beaches among the most beautiful part of the calabrian Ionian coast, protected by the Gulf of Squillace. In a charming medieval village, lively and full of traditions and flavors. Discover the appreciated local craftsmanship and tasty & extra sweet gastronomy that smells of history and recalls the ancient Saracen forays.
A bit of history
The origins of Montepaone are lost in history along the foundation of the ancient “Aurunco”, halfway between the old village and “Montepaone Lido” on whose ruins arose, according to local historians, the current Montepaone. It is not known whether the legend that the ancient “Aurunco” was founded by the “auruncies” – arrived in Calabria from Lazio region – has any bases. But in this area, during the Second Punic War, there was a bloody battle of the Roman troops against the famous Hannibal, as evidenced by the “Column of Hannibal” still visible on a side of “Strada Statale 106”, the main road-artery that connects all the villages of the calabrian Ionian coastline. The name “Montepaone” comes from the latin term “Mons Pavonis” (Mount of the Peacock), probably because once upon time in this area these colorful birds were bred.
Montepaone, with its current name, began to exist since 1094, when the Norman lord “Ruggiero I” gave up to the Certosa of Serra San Bruno some villages including also the new side of the ancient “Aurunco”. Some think that the name comes from the breeding of these colorful birds, living at the time in all the area. With the Normans, the village experienced a period of peace and cultural growth thanks to the flourishing of trade. It suffered, like the other villages in the area, for the several fearsome Saracen raids & incursions and later its territory was divided by the French into baronies and fiefdoms. Two earthquakes happened and then in 1875 the first nucleus of the “Muscettola” arose, which only around the 70s of the last century became the famous seaside destination known as “Montepaone Lido”.
Walking around the village
The upper side of Montepaone, know as “Montepaone ‘e supa”, is the ancient medieval village perched on the heights that protect the coastline. Its alleys and squares, today as yesterday, are teeming with life and are the favorite meeting place of locals, visitors and tourists. In “Piazza Immacolata”, the main meeting-place of the old-city center of Montepaone, you can still see the famous “Tree of Freedom”, the great elm that was planted on 1799 to celebrate the brief interlude in which Montepaone was part of the Neapolitan Republic. The 15th-century Palace of “Cesare Pirrò”, home to the town-hall, is certainly another visit to do. Recently the Municipality has restored the palace to its former glory. Visit the church “Maria S.S. Immacolata”, which dates back to the 16th century, and also located in the ancient village. The building was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1783 and retains a 17th-century paint-canvas, depicting the “Madonna del Rosario” attributed to Ippolito Borghese. Walking through the narrow alleys is not uncommon to see some skilled local craftsmen weaving the wicker twigs creating a “Crivu”, the typical local basket. There is also no lack of wise-hands in Montepaone that embroidered and worked on ancient looms. When walking through the village it seems to hear the sound of the loom: in the past some people spun linen or raw silk thanks to local farms of silk-worms.
Montepaone all year around
Lots of tourists usually match Montepaone to its sea-town “Montepaone Lido”. Here, it’s possible to enjoy & experience miles of open beaches with golden sand and crystal clear waters which welcome thousands of visitors every summer. The night “movida” of Montepaone, close to Soverato and equally lively, animates the area with parties and events. Athletes can access endless fun opportunities with sailing and windsurfing courses, boat trips and beach volleyball tournaments. After a day spent in the sun, a catamaran trip through the rocks to the small sea-caves of that enchantment that’s the beach of Caminia, reveal to tourists the most beautiful summer of the Ionian Calabria. On the first Sunday of August the village celebrates the saint-patron-saint “San Felice Martire” and its wooden statue is preserved in the local church of the village. The local community also celebrates St. Francesco da Paola with another important religious feast. But Montepaone also offers unique and fascinating experiences for travelers looking for slow and spiritual experiences in the less sultry months. One of these is certainly the interesting “Mills’ Path”, the ancient road that, historically, connected the territories of Montepaone, Montauro, Gasperina, Stalettì with the famous “Grangia di Sant’Anna” and with the system of water mills placed downstream. A 568-metre-long track that crosses a gentle and lush countryside among sunny olive groves. At Christmas there’s a community-tradition to prepare the local sweet “Cupeta”, the typical nougat – with Arabic origins – based on genuine sesame, honey, flour and “vincotto” cooked wine. This local dessert is a food-excellence and is also protected by a Slow Food Community.
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