Cirò (KR)

The land of the vines

Cirò is a medieval village located between the Ionian coast of Crotone and the north-eastern foothills of the Sila. Its well-preserved historic centre offers visitors picturesque views and charming narrow streets, underpasses and stairways.

The town of Cirò was once the ancient town of Psycròn, a fascinating place exposed to the winds. Numerous archaeological artefacts found in the surrounding area confirm the presence of indigenous peoples in the area as early as the Iron Age. But it was between the 7th and 6th centuries BC, with the arrival of Greek settlers, that the ancient and pre-existing Italic centre became densely populated and fortified to create the Magna Graecian city of Psycròn, later known as Krimisa.
 
The town was the site of a harmonious fusion of two different civilizations as the ingenuity and richness of the Greek culture merged with the elegance and concreteness of the Latin one.
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The first Greek settlers were so amazed by the fertility of this area that they named it Enotria, meaning “land where the vine grows”, a name which was soon used throughout Italy.
 

The structure of the present historic centre was, for the most part, designed at the beginning of the 16th century by the feudal lords Carafa, who built a city wall interspersed by the Mavilia, Scezzari, Cacovia, and Falcone gates. The main gate was Porta Mavilia, which was situated at the start of the present day road Corso Lilio. The second gate is named Scezzari because it was the site of a clash with Swiss soldiers during an unknown period. The third gate, called Cacovia, is located in the Valle district, whereas the last one, Porta Falcone, was situated in the lower part of the village within the Jewish community but there are no remains of it left. The built-up area extends from the Portello district, the oldest area of Cirò, to the Cannone district and Corso Lilio. The main square is overlooked by Carafa Castle, an imposing trapezoidal structure with four towers, and the mother church of Santa Maria de Plateis.

 
Cirò
 

The local economy is largely driven by Cirò DOC wine which is successfully exported all over the world. The area’s equally traditional olive oil, which has recently led to the creation of new and important agro-industrial activities, is the economy’s second most important product.

 
The Gates of Cirò

Dotted along the walls that surrounded the ancient town of Cirò were four gates known as Porta Mavilia, Porta Scezzari, Porta Cacovìa and Porta Falcone. Fragments of the arch of Porta Mavilia, the main gateway to the town, can still be seen today at the beginning of the present day road, Corso Lilio. The second gate can be found on Via Casoppero in front of Palazzo Teti. It is named after the Swiss soldiers, commonly known as Scezzari, who, attacked the town after besieging it for a long time. Located in the Valle district is the Porta Cacovìa, which takes its name from the narrow and difficult road that had to be taken to get there. Unfortunately, there are no remains left of the fourth door, Porta Falcone, which stood in the lowest part of the village inhabited by the Jews, as it was completely demolished.

 
Cirò
 
Church of Santa Maria de Plateis

Located in the heart of the old town, the church has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries.
Its main, imposing facade features a raised base decorated with four false columns that surround the entrance. The church is accessed by a small staircase and to the left of the entrance you will find a square, cusped bell tower with clock.
Inside, the church has three naves and a transept topped by a large dome flanked on either side by two small domes that together form a cross. A triumphal arch, crowned by the ancient coat of arms of Cirò, stands before a high altar made of polychrome marble which is adorned with white marble cherubs. Also worth seeing are the chapel of the Sacrament at the end of the left aisle, which is entirely covered with marble and mosaics, and the chapel of Saint Stephen, characterised by a polychrome marble altar which contains a painting of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, a work of the Neapolitan school.

 
Cirò
 
Other sacred buildings

Cirò is home to numerous churches and holy sites of interest.
The Church of the Madonna del Carmine is a small chapel with simple, unpretentious architecture. Its high altar on the wall is decorated with a painting depicting the Virgin and Child with Saint Francis at the side.
The Church of San Giovanni Battista was one of the town's first four parishes and features a facade with a protruding tympanum that appears to be supported by two pilasters with capitals. On the ceiling of the nave visitors can admire a recently painted fresco depicting the baptism of Saint John the Baptist.
The Church of San Cataldo is located just a stone's throw from Porta Mavilia, one of the ancient entrances to the city, and is dedicated to a monk of Irish origin named Catald, who became bishop of Taranto. The facade has a rectangular portal topped by a circular single lancet window.
 The Church of the Madonna di Pompei features simple architecture and is just around the corner from the ruins of the ancient church of Sant'Elia where, according to tradition, virgin girls used to go in procession to pray for rain during periods of drought. The young women arrived with their mouths full of water which they then deposited at the foot of the church whilst reciting a prayer.
 At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Cirò was home to four regular religious orders:
 the seventeenth-century Capuchin convent which, located at the entrance of the town, was part of the municipal cemetery; the convent of the Reformed, of which very few ruins remain, which was located near the Chapel; the convent of the Minor Conventual of Saint Francis of Assisi, of which no trace remains, which stood between the present day cemetery and the area of Donna Pipa; and the convent of the Minims of Saint Francis of Paola, the only surviving structure, which is currently owned by the Siciliani family.

 
Carafa Castle

The city unfolds around Carafa castle, which had an important influence over the city’s living arrangements. The castle was built by the Carafa family, both as a means of defence against enemy assaults and with the desire to control the inhabitants of the town.
It has a trapezoidal shape with four circular towers at each corner and is divided into three parts: the basements, which have always aroused curiosity due to the mythical aura that surrounds them; the storage floor, with a paved courtyard in local stone; and the upper floor, which included two apartments and other rooms for servants.

 
 
Cirò
 
Cirò DOC wine

Cirò was the first Calabrian wine to obtain DOC status from the European Union. It is the oldest wine produced in Calabria and is a direct descendant of the famous Krimisa wine which was produced on the Ionian coast by the ancient Achaeans.
 The origins of Cirò wine date back to the 8th century BC when settlers from Greece landed on the coast of Punta Alice and founded Krimisa. It is said that Krimisa was the "official wine" of the ancient Olympic games.
The first Greek settlers were so amazed by the fertility of the vineyards that they named the area Enotria, orland where the vine grows”, a name which was soon used throughout Italy.
 Cirò Doc wine is produced from vines that are predominantly cultivated on the harsh and dry soils of the province of Crotone, in the municipalities of Cirò, Cirò Marina, Crucoli, Melissa and Rocca di Neto, which produce full-bodied grapes with a very dark colour and fleshy skin.
Produced in red, rosé and white varieties, Cirò is a single varietal wine because, as required by the production regulations, it is obtained from a high percentage of a single type of grape. Gaglioppo, introduced by Greek settlers from Thessaly, is one of the most widespread grape varieties in Italy and is mainly grown on the low and sunny hills of the Marquisate of Crotone.
 Cirò DOC, known for its excellent qualities, is one of the most exported wines at international level. In particular, red Cirò, with an alcohol content of 13.5%, boasts the title of Reserve.

 
Cirò
 


 


 

Cirò urban settlement originated in 1952, so no old town characterizes the site. However, several ancient buildings stand in the town: the ruined Torre Nuova on the Lipuda river, Casa Taverna, Palazzo Porti that will house the Archaeological Museum, casa Sculco, casa Saverona and other rural dwellings that, surrounded by vines, orange and olive groves, represented the original and characteristic landscape of the Mediterranean countryside.



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