Calitri – The Positano of Irpinia and its ceramics
Perched on a hill 600 meters above sea level, Calitri is one of the most fascinating and ancient municipalities in the province of Avellino. Distant about 75 km from the capital of the province, covers an area of 100 square kilometers.
Currently its population is of 4457 inhabitants. In its territory flow various streams and rivers, among which the most important and famous is certainly the Ofanto.
Situated on the border between Campania and Basilicata, it borders with Andretta, Aquilonia, Bisaccia and Cairano which are part of Alta Irpinia, and with Atella, Pescopagano, Rapone, Rionero in Vulture and Ruvo del Monte which are part of the Province of Potenza.
Its patron saint is San Canio Martire and he is celebrated on May 25th.
A bit of history
Already in the protohistory Calitri was inhabited: archaeological evidences found in the locality “Convento” have shown that already in the period of the fossakultur of “Oliveto-Cairano” the area was frequented. The village became a real urban settlement, however, only from the thirteenth century AD with the documented presence of the castle. In 1304 the structure was bought by the Gesualdo family who enlarged it with numerous renovations. It then passed to the Ludovisi and finally to the Mirelli who were the owners of the feud until 1806. The vicissitudes of the ancient village are closely linked, unfortunately, to numerous earthquakes that, over the centuries, have changed the urban physiognomy especially of the historical center.
What to see in Calitri
– Borgo Castello: Until 1694 in this area stood the castle of Calitri: an imposing work composed of four angular towers, buttresses and other works of fortification, placed to dominate the Valley of Ofanto and Cortino. Destroyed by an earthquake, it was no longer rebuilt and the materials resulting from the collapse of the building were reused in new buildings. The entire area is now owned by the municipality and is the subject of development projects given the great historical interest that constitutes.
– Museum of the State Institute of Art: born from an idea of some teachers who wanted to leave a trace of the artifacts made by students and teachers, preserves the works that were created between 1959 and 2004. Inside you can admire works made of various materials, with explanations on the processing of ceramics, wood, embroidery and lace.
– Church of San Canio: originally stood near the monastery of the Benedictines, today Piazza della Repubblica. The church already existed in the second half of the fifteenth century. The local tradition tells that, during the transport of the body of San Canio from Atella to Acerenza in 799, the procession passed through Calitri and the bells of the village miraculously began to ring by themselves: from that moment on, the saint became the patron saint of the village. Inside the structure it is possible to admire various works of art and there is also a relic of the saint.
– Church of the Immaculate Conception: construction began in 1710, with the establishment of the Brotherhood by the Jesuit Francesco Pavone, the first celebration dates back to April 9, 1714. Enlarged in the course of the decades, between 1740 and 1747 was realized, by the Calitrian Master Baldassarre Abbate, the imposing baroque altar in lime wood, then gilded by Neapolitan artists. In addition to the various works of art present, inside the church, in the hall-crypt, there is a museum of sacred objects.
The pottery of Calitri
The “Positano d’Irpinia” has some affinities not only landscape with the coast, but also another feature makes Calitri a famous town in the province of Avellino: ceramics.
The presence of kilns is attested in ancient times, with findings that testify that already around the IV-III century BC here the production of ceramics was widespread.
The first written documentation of this craft industry dates back to the sixteenth century in a letter sent by Cav. Gesualdo to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in which it refers to the vases to be sent to Rome, probably even decorated.
Even the names of the streets preserve the presence of this tradition: streets like Tornillo bring us back to the ancient artisans who used the lathe with skill and via Faenzani reminds us of when in the ‘600 a bishop had some artisans from Faenza come here.
The last kiln worker to work according to the ancient tradition was Antonio Lampariello, who worked until old age following the ancient customs.
Today the tradition, innovated in the means, has not been lost, and there continues to be the presence of artisans who work terracotta and contribute to the local development.
About ceramics and kilns of Calitri, on September 29, 2008 was established the “Museum of Ceramics“, located in the restored rooms of the ancient Borgo Castello, with a splendid example of musealized urban space.
What to Eat in Calitri
The enogastronomical tradition of Calitri is very varied and it perfectly matches with the one of the neighboring towns of the province of Avellino.
Among typical local dishes there are cingul’ (similar to Apulian cavatelli) and cannazze (broken ziti) served with meat sauce and grated pecorino cheese.
Another typical dish of excellence is acqua sala, which consists of slices of bread soaked in boiling salted water and then seasoned with hard-boiled eggs and oil fried with garlic and hot peppers.
Together with these, it is possible to taste lahan’ (tagliatelle), sometimes boiled in milk and seasoned with tomato and bean sauce; aurecchj’ ru preut’ (orecchiette) and baccalà alla ualanegna. To these are added the productions of cold cuts and local cheeses.
Festivities and recurrences of Calitri
Besides the already mentioned patronal feast of San Canio on May 25th, which is joined to a fair held on the same day, in Calitri are celebrated the following occasions:
– The San Vito Fair on the third Sunday of June;
– The last weekend of June the territory hosts the National Motorcycle Rally;
– The Sponz Fest: a festival that in recent years has made Calitri’s fame reach international levels. Directed by the artist Vinicio Capossela, the Sponz Fest has become an August event that attracts tourists and lovers of music and art from all over Italy and beyond.
– In the week between the end of August and the beginning of September there is the Interregional Fair, a much appreciated event in which promotion, commercialization and valorization of the typical products of Campania and the surrounding areas are made.
– Calitri is also famous for the Living Nativity, represented in the streets of the town, among the alleys of the historic center.
Our activities in Calitri
Among the various experiences offered by eiTRAVEL, Calitri could not be missed. Among the various proposals we offer, “Cairano and Calitri, between alleys and flavors” allows you to penetrate between the smells and tastes of this fantastic village also known as the Positano of Irpinia. In addition to walking through the alleys of the historic center, tourists will have the opportunity to taste typical local products, in a journey that will involve all the senses.