The Hellenophone [Greek language] museum
Set up only recently in the lower ground floor of the Regional Institute of Higher Studies of Greek-Speaking Calabria [Istituto Regionale Superiore di Studi Ellenofoni della Calabria – IRSSEC], thanks to the contribution of the Alderman’s Office for the Linguistic Minorities of the Province of Reggio Calabria [Assessorato alle Minoranze Linguistiche della Provincia di Reggio Calabria] Bova Marina’s Agro-Pastoral Area Museum [Museo Agro Pastorale dell’Area Ellenofona ], this Museum provides interesting insight into the nineteenth-twentieth-century rural culture of the Bova district. It hosts one of Calabria’s oldest ethnographic collections. The exhibits were collected in the 1970’s by the expert in Southern-Italian cultural studies, Pasquino Crupi, and the iconographer Domenico Candela, with a view to conserving as much as possible of what remained in Bovesia of the district’s Hellenistic ethnographic culture until the mid-twentieth century. The collection includes about 300 artefacts, covering all the main crafts practiced in the southernmost districts of the Aspromonte area, skilfully illustrated by means of detailed black and white photographs.
The exhibition starts from a section dedicated to the local rural housing-building system availing of a selection of building tools, fragments of ceramic piping, iron bolts and an interesting series of wooden moulds for making tiles and bricks. The idea underlying this first set of exhibits is to highlight the intrinsic link existing between man and the land, eloquently represented by some bricks where marks left in the damp clay tablets by fingers are still visible. It is a significant visible testimony to the tireless hard work carried out by farmers in a topographically difficult and morphologically heterogeneous area like Greek Calabria. Then comes a reconstruction of the interior of a home with different types of lamps that permit the visitor to trace the development of the lighting systems adopted here between the nineteenth century and the 1950’s.
The museum also exhibits artefacts related to the crafts of the shoemaker and the blacksmith brought together in a single scenographic reconstruction with a view to illustrating two of the local crafts that served the farming community.
Of great interest are the basket-making, weaving and sheep-farming exhibits, the latter providing some very original objects like the musulupare, the wooden moulds used to prepare a Lenten cheese peculiar to the Graecanic area.
Other tableaux are dedicated to music,work in the fields and the extraction of oil from bergamot, represented here by a Calabrian machine from the 1930’s. This unique machine, designed in 1844 by Nicola Barilla of Reggio Calabria, paved the way for the industrialisation of the process by which essential oil was extracted from bergamot, a method which replaced the tiring work of the so-called spiritari, who before that, used only knives and sponges to obtain from the peels of this citrus fruit the essence still used to fix the bouquet of many cosmetic products. This evocative chapter in the history of the Graecanic Area is illustrated in a marvellous video featuring this rare and mysterious citrus fruit.