Gasperina: history and traditions

Gasperina is a country of the province of Catanzaro that leans out on the Jonian Sea. It is composed by a historical center, located on hill at about 500 meters above the sea level, and some parts of the sea municipality. The geographical position makes  Gasperina a particular suggestive place; it is 7 km far from the sea, and 10 minutes car time from the Calabrian Preserre. The good geographical position projects Gasperina over the blue Jonian Sea, creating a sort of “terrace on the sea” from which it si very easy to admire a very beautiful panorama that goes from Punta Stilo to Capo Rizzuto. Gasperina offers interesting insights of naturalistic, artistic and architectural resources. Considered its experience for a lot of time under the Chartusian jurisdiction, it preserves alive proofs of this presence. The buildings, portals, the ancient neighborhoods (the rughi) are a valid attestation of beauty. Remarkable is the good quality of the wine production which is the result of skills, quality of the soils, the climatic exposure and use of some specific variety of grapes. Like many other Calabrian towns, Gasperina suffered of a significant emigration toward America (U.S.A. and Argentina), Europe and the rest of Italy.

The history

The origins of Gasperina go back to very ancient times, when it was called Gasparina, and still before Gasparrina. The source in which the toponimo is mentioned for the first time is a 1091 Norman paper, while the casale of Aurunco, today’s district Aurunci (I Runci), is quoted in 1094. Since 1098 the monastery of St. Giacomo, the casali of Montauro, of Oliviano and the territory of the casale of Gasperina were donated by the Norman Roger of Altavilla to the monk Bruno, founder of the Calabrian Chartreuse. The so-called Estate of Gasperina, situated in the slope toward the harbor, remained instead to the Church of Mileto. In that period the casale of Gasperina was destroyed, but it reappeared rebuilt in the following century.
In 1221-1222 the peasants of Aurunco, Montauro, Oliviano and Gasperina, contested the jurisdiction of the Chartreuse over their casali. For such a reason they risked to be condemned to death by Fred II of Svevia who, eventually, sanctioned them with the payment of 5000 gold tarìs.
Oliviano and Aurunco appeared extinct in the lower Middle Ages. Gasperina and Montauro belonged to the Chartreuse till the XVIII century, with the exclusion of the period 1497-1542 in which the Borgias of Squillace arbitrarily annexed them to their principality.
In past the most frequent danger came from the sea. Around 3000 turcheschis (6 July 1645) from the harbor of Squillace reached Stalettì, Montauro and Gasperina, looting and buring them. They also entered the Grangia of Sant’Anna, rummaging it. On the other hand, at the end of that century (1693) St. Vito, Gasperina, Montauro, the Grangia of Sant’Anna, were among the places that the Abbot Pacichelli visited in his journey in Calabria.
A priest, Mr. Bruno Procopi, founded in 1764 in Gasperina the Frumentario Mountain or Wheat Mountain, completed the following year by his nephew Mr. Joseph Giovanni Procopi, subdeacon.
In 1783 the southern Calabria was seriously hurt by a strong earthquake that provoked damages and nine victims in Gasperina. It also devastated the Grangia of Sant’Anna.
In the second half of  the XVIII century, the opposition among enlightenments and conservatories ran over Gasperina. To the volume Lira focense of the abbot’s focense enlightenment Anthony Jerocades of Parghelia the priest from Gasperina Mr. Francis Spadea answered with his Antilira focense  and with the Lettera all’abate Antonio Jerocades. In the same period, Spadea contested also the enlightenment abbot Gregorio Aracri of Stalettì. At the end of the ‘700 Gasperina was among the countries that opposed to the new republican ideas. Giovanni Celia and Vincent Spadea were heads mass in the army sanfedista of the cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo of Calabria.
To the long affiliation in the Chartreuse, followed, in the 800, the re-entry of Gasperina and Montauro in the diocese of Squillace. In the same century, as in the previous one, the center gasperinese lived the ferments of that time.
It was already in the French decade, 1806-1815, when one fed garrison of soldiers of oltralpe provoked ten dead and devastated the mother church in Gasperina. At the command of the general Gavignac, hundreds of French soldiers stormed in the places of the Frumentario Mountain establishing themselves.
Still a local priest, Mr. Saverio Spadea, distinguished himself in the community of the place. It developed a remarkable role in the institution of the Normal School in Gasperina;  it was 1808.
In 1807 Gasperina was the chief town of the district. With the 1811 subdivision in provinces, districts and communes, the district of Gasperina included not only the the chief town, but also the communes of Montauro, Montepaone, Centrache, Olivadi, Petrizzi and Soverato.
After the French decade and the killing of the king of Naples Gioacchino Murat, the south lived the tension produced by the borbonic and liberal feelings. Numerous countries were poisoned by a climate of distrust, aimed to rouse antiborbonic spies and punish them with the pitchfork.
With the phenomenon of the brigandage, in the second half in the 800 century, even Gasperina had its famous brigands that sowed fear and death: Ferdinando Janni, Nicola Macrina and Vincent Macrina.
A peculiar characteristic of the gasperinese community was the theater. There are still memories of theatrical representations of the last part of the ‘800. Nevertheless, the realization of a theatrical structure, with the capacity of 150 places, was build in the 20s of the ‘900. Subsequently it was turned to cinema.
Gasperina was center of the Office of the Register, of a military recruiting office, of Pretura and of penitentiary structure. The last two were suppressed in the 60s of the ‘900.
From the end of the ‘800 the demography of the country has strongly been marked by a thick emigration, and in the second part of the ‘900, it have also contributed to the evolution of the underlying sea centers.

‘A nchjanata

‘A nchjanata (the slope) is the procession tha (the evening of 14 August of every year) accompanies the statue of Holy Mary of the Termini from her sanctuary up to the parish church of Saint Nicola Bishop, situated in the center of Gasperina.
The Madonna’s statue is put on a wagon adequately decorated with flowers and hauled by a tractor. Till a few decades ago, the wagon was transported by oxen.
‘A nchjanata represents a moment of deep devotion to the Madonna, and a motive for strong identity that the people of Gasperina find again in this particular suggestive religious event. For the occasion, many emigrants, every 14 August, come back to their Gasperina to honor the Holy Mary of the Termini.

‘A pacchjana

A pacchjana, untill a few decades ago, was the typical custom of the a Gasperinese woman.
The suit was constituted by a simple shirt, white and embroidered; a red cloth with the velvet and embroidered edge (for the married women) was put on (if she could afford it), while for the unmarried women the cloth could be of other colors (blue, green…). On the breast a bust (it could be black, blue or green) was tightened whose sleeves were of the same main color; under the bust a skirt (‘a gunneḍa) was worn; it was coloured of black or included few flowers on it;  and then there was the u haddala; on the head there was a headgear (‘a tuvagghja) and on the neck ‘u galluna, a necklace of velvet that, in the day of the marriage, was replaced by ‘u scoḍu of silk; she also wore the ‘a saja (a cloth of wool that could be of different tonalities of brown) or‘u carpiteḍu, a colored cloth made of yellow and brown strips. The shoes were black or brown and the stockings could be of white, meat or black color.
The suit was not always the same. In the day of the marriage or during other important circumstances, the skirt was of silk, while during the funerals it was of black color. ‘‘U carpiteḍu was used in some particular occasions;  she never participated to a funeral or entered a church with it. For these last two cases she worn the saja.

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