EXCURSION to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Mallamace
The Greek-Orthodox rite was observed in Cardeto and the Sant’Agata river valley until 1700. During the first census of non-Italian minorities held in 1881, shortly after the Unification of Italy (1870), all the inhabitants of the area were defined as Greek.
The purpose of this excursion is to reach the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Assunta di Mallamace [Our Lady of the Assumption] which stands just above Cardeto, about one kilometre to the east.
Every year, a procession in honour of Our Lady of the Assumption takes place when a wooden statue of the Virgin (a copy of a more precious statue in marble kept on the main altar of the Sanctuary) is carried on a float, the first Sunday of August, from the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Cardeto to the Church of Mallamace, where an impromptu gathering of musicians and the first frittole [pork rind, offal and trimmings ] of the season delight the faithful.
The statue returns to Cardeto for its feast day on the 15th of August. The mortal remains of Cardeto’s most illustrious citizen, Cardinal Luigi Tripepi are buried near the Sanctuary; inside are some pictures of him and some of the poetry which give voice to the cardinal’s fondness for his native Aspromonte.
Time: 1-1.30 hours
Water: at the departure and arrival points
Elevation difference: about 300 metres; the bridge over the river (about 500 metres above sea level) – Mallamace (about 800 metres above sea level)
Ordinance Survey Maps:Scale 1:25.000 F° 602 III Motta ST G.
Arriving by car
The distance between the city of Reggio Calabria and Cardeto is about 15 kilometres. The road connecting them follows the valley of the Sant’Agata River. Near the entrance to the village, turn right down a street that cuts through the lower part of the hamlet and drive as far as a modern wooden bridge spanning the river. Cars may be parked in the small area just beyond the bridge and drinking water obtained from a spring called i Rahali in the stone wall there.
Back at the bridge, take the trail, the first part of which is in cement, and follow the course of the river, while admiring the nasidi , small plots of land wrestled from the river bed.
Having passed a number of weirs, you can cross a small bridge to the other side of the river. After a bend in the river, take a small path to the right and leave the river banks to climb up to the small hamlet of Muscini (right) and the holiday residence of the noble Malgeri family (left).
After about 100 metres of paved road, take the first turning onto the old mule track leading straight up to the Sanctuary, though it involves walking through a stretch of cultivated terraced land. Alternatively, continue along the paved road leading to the hamlet of Sant’Elia which meets the tarmacked road from Cardeto; take this road left and you will arrive at the Sanctuary.
A little further on, you can drink at the du Sambuchédu spring and admire the chestnut trees that shade the Stations of the Cross.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della CalabriaGreca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca