ARBERIA - ALBANIAN CULTURE
The Albanian culture in Calabria is a unique blend of Italian and Albanian traditions, reflected in the language, music, and cuisine.
Albanian traditions and rituals
Insights into the Albanian culture in Cività
For more than 500 years Albanian culture has played an significant role in about 32 villages in Calabria, especially in the villages of Cività, Frascineto and San Demetrio Corone. The first Albanians arrived as soldiers in southern Italy at the beginning of the 15th century to support the troops of Alfons V of Aragon in their fight against the mighty Angevins. As gratitude for their help, they were given territories where they could settle. After the conquest of Albania by the Turks in 1478, a great wave of emigration from their homeland began.
Cività offers an interesting and exciting natural and cultural spectacle in a small space. On arrival in the village in the north of the region you will come across monuments of the Albanian national hero: A wall picture shows Giorgio Kastriota fighting the Turks, next to him is a bust of the “Skanderberg”, as he is also called.
The ethnographic museum offers an insight into the culture of the Arberesh, in which the typical Albanian costumes and festive occasions, as well as the former everyday life of the people in Cività are shown. Even today, every Tuesday after Easter, the traditional costumes in red, azure and white silk embroidered with gold vests are worn at the famous “vallja” dance.
Albanians are under the authority of the Roman Church and are Catholic, but practice the Greek-Byzantine rite, which they share with the Orthodox Church.
The Church Maria SS. Dell’Assunta near the museum already stands out when you enter because of its otherness. Instead of a holy water basin there is a picture of Our Lady that the faithful touch and then cross themselves.
After the Greek-Byzantine rite, however, one crosses oneself from right to left. The fair is also read partly in Arberesh and partly in Italian, as not all inhabitants are of Albanian descent. On a stroll through the beautiful old town you can taste delicious Albanian and Calabrian specialities in the characteristic ambience of the piazza after a cultural day.
In the village of Frascineto, founded between 1478 and 1492, just a few kilometres from Cività, folklore fans can admire the 53 Albanian costumes in miniature format and some original costumes in the “Museo del Costume Arbereshe”. The Arbereshe proudly kept their special features and so even today, after about 500 years, there is a large variety of costumes.
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