San Floro, an ancient Calabrian village ideal for a slow-paced holiday
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San Floro

Nestled in the fertile exuberance of the Amato hill arises San Floro, a village rich in the rediscovered flavours and scents of ancient traditions. This land is both a point of departure and a destination in itself, welcoming all with smiles, traditions and a great sense of folklore.

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A bit of history

According to some sources, the San Floro village has its roots in prehistory, specifically in the Neolithic. Certain archaeological findings reveal that, millennia prior, it was the Magna Graecia colony of Scolacium, the city of noted politician and scholar Cassiodorus. The conquerors intended to exploit the great potential of this territory, being then – and now – bordered by orchards with expanses of vegetation suitable for rearing livestock and flourishing wood-rich forests. The area went on to become the farmstead of Squillace until the 15th century, when the Strivieri family stepped in, followed by the Mangione, the Marincola and finally the Caracciolo family. Unfortunately in 1783, the village was brought to its knees by an earthquake, resulting in the destruction of the Santa Caterina Church and the death of many inhabitants. During the French domination of the Kingdom of Naples, San Floro became an autonomous municipality. Following a decree in May 1811, it was assigned to the Borgia district, a conferral that remained in place even after the restructuring ordered by the Bourbons in 1816.

Wandering around the village

There are 699 inhabitants in this area enriched by a hospitable spirit, with small houses of ancient construction lining the laneways of cobblestones and sanpietrini.

In Piazza Marconi stands the San Nicola Church, having been first constructed in 1560. Gazing upon the exterior, one notices how the façade is split in such a way as to highlight the pointed arches and the niche by which it is dominated. Internally, the main nave is characterised by a vaulted ceiling, whilst the walls are elegantly adorned with frescoes by the local artists Fodaro and Ortona. Of particular value is the silver reliquary safeguarding the remains of San Floro, as a tribute from the Duke of Caracciolo in the 16th century.

On the opposite side of the church rises up the Castello Caracciolo, presumably dating back to the 10th century. The fortress, once the summer residence of the Duke of Girifalco, is characterised by a rectangular layout bounded by four towers and a curtain wall. Within this regal setting, today stands the Silk Museum, housing sacred vestments, ancient damasks and wedding gowns. San Floro has an ancient and profound relationship with Sericulture and consequently with silk. Hence, together with part of the Catanzaro territory,  the largest European production hub of this precious fabric was founded at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, a short distance from the village is an enchanting Mulberry plantation run by the  Cooperativa Nido di Seta, overseen by brilliant young Calabrians dedicated to enhancing the richness of the native land, overseeing the entire silk farming supply chain. Visiting the Cooperative offers an insight into the entire transformation process of the most precious thread in the world and how it can be used to create a finished product. These are not the only young people to have expressed a deep love for San Floro.

Stefano Caccavari’s family garden is proof of this. Focus is on the enhancement of neighbouring farmland that was destined to be used for landfill but today, thanks to the initiative of this young man and his supporters, now produces seasonal fruit and vegetables with crops produced without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Another correlated project is that of Mulinum, an ancient mill with a natural stone that grinds the organic Calabrian wheat in its purity, seeing the total transformation of the grain into flour. This low-yield wheat retains minimal gluten content and generates a finished product with an authentic flavour, just like “nonna’s bread”.

San Floro all year round

This hillside village, not far from the perfumes and colours of the Ionian Sea, offers simple and authentic delights 365 days a year.

Each spring at Easter time, the solemn rituals of Holy Week are celebrated. With great sorrow and passion, the confraternities and locals relive the lead-up to the crucifixion of Christ, the peak of joy and enthusiasm reached upon the Cunfrunta, the moment in which the figures of Jesus and the Madonna meet.

On the first Sunday of May, the saint after whom the town is named is honoured, through the ritual of penitence vows offered to San Floro. It is said that in 1763, a tragic plague epidemic spread throughout the Kingdom of Naples which, despite numerous sanitation operations, ceased only following a penitential ritual undertaken by the San Flora locals, who asked forgiveness for the sins committed. Since then, the inhabitants of the village hold a fascinating and emotional event each year, repeating these vows of penitence in the main church, being dedicated to San Nicola, bearing a crown of thorns and the great faith and devotion that binds them to the saint.

Another moment in which San Floro comes to the forefront is on 18th August, when the citizens honour their patron saint with a solemn mass and a procession through the streets of the village.

To enjoy during the warmer months of the year, just a few dozen kilometres from the village are the beautiful beaches, bathed by the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Both the beaches with amenities or the free public stretches of sand are able to satisfy the needs of those who love to relax on the salty shores.

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