Historical notes and curiosities
Pentedattilo is located in the municipality of Melito Porto Salvo, in the province of Reggio Calabaria, in the beautiful Sant'Elia valley. Its name derives from the union of two Greek words, "penta" and "daktylos" which mean "five" and "fingers" respectively. It was given this name precisely because the protrusion of the mountain on which it stands is reminiscent of the shape of a stone hand with five fingers rising up towards the sky.
The history of Pentedattilo begins in 640 B.C. when a Greek colony colonized the country, making it a rapidly developing economic centre. Later, under the power of the Romans, the village became a perfect military fort to easily reach the mountains of Aspromonte, thanks to its strategic position that allowed full control over the river of Sant'Elia.
After the Byzantine era, the village was bought by several families, passed from the Abenavoli family to the Alberti and this gave rise to great rivalries between them. To put an end to the issues raised between the two families, they decided to marry Alberti's daughter, Antonietta, to Baron Bernardino Abenavoli. Their love, however, was opposed by Antonietta's brother, who immediately accepted the request of the Viceroy of Naples to marry his sister.
When Baron Bernardino discovered the news of the following wedding, his anger broke out and he decided to take revenge on the Alberti family and kidnap Antonietta. So on the night of Easter 1686, Bernardino and his men raided the Alberti castle and exterminated the whole family, even women and children. They only spared Antoinette and her betrothed, whom they took hostage as collateral. The Viceroy of Naples, Cortez learned of the incident and sent some of the men in his army to take revenge and free his son from captivity.
Cortez's troops beheaded the men who had participated in the massacre of the Alberti family and hung their heads on the parapet of the castle. In the meantime the Baron managed to escape, forced Antonietta to marry him and then hide her in a cloistered convent. Then he took refuge first in Malta and then in Vienna where he died fighting on an Austrian ship.
This story has given rise to various legends and therefore to the mystery of Pentedattilo. In fact it is thought that some presences of the exterminated family are still wandering the streets and that during the nights of strong wind, you can hear the cries of pain of Alberti. Another legend concerns the rock that resembles a hand. It is called the hand of the Devil and represents the hand of the baron who has shed blood.
Unfortunately, over time the village has been increasingly abandoned by its inhabitants because of the frequent natural disasters that hit it. Until the sixties when the town ordered the few remaining citizens to clear the place for good due to the slow landslide of the mountain. Today, however, Pentedattilo is living a second life thanks to the various initiatives to enhance the territory.
In the village of Pentedattilo you can visit the ruins of the Castello degli Alberti. Where once stood the residence of the Alberti family, today only the ruins surrounded by greenery are left. Also not to be missed is a visit to the Church of San Pietro e Paolo where the tombs of the Alberti family and an ancient organ dating back to 1700 are placed. Another church to see is that of Candelora, where there is a statue of the Madonna and Child.
If you prefer to learn more about the traditions of Pentedattilo, you can visit the Museum of Popular Traditions.
Inside there are typical objects of the ancient rural life. Instead, to find out by what means the essence of Bergamot is extracted, you can see the Bergamot Museum or Bergamot Shop, where you can also buy Bergamot products.
What to do in the village
One of the first things to do when you arrive in Pentedattilo to enjoy the magical atmosphere of this place, is to walk along the narrow streets stopping maybe to look at all the apartments that in the past citizens have abandoned, transformed into small craft shops and shops of typical products.
A naturalistic trekking route that you absolutely must not miss is the one that leads from the village of Pentedattilo to the Rocca di Santa Lena. The Rocca is a rocky wall behind the village. Once you have completed the ring-route and reached the main point, you can enjoy a magnificent view of Mount Calvario and Mount Etna. You can also try your hand at sport climbing so you can admire an even more complete panorama of the surrounding beauty.
If you plan to visit Pentedattilo in the summer, you can participate in the itinerant ethnic festival Paleariza, to better understand the ancient Greek-Calabrian culture.
Finally, given the natural beauty of the village, among the initiatives that characterize the place, there is Pentedattilo Film Festival. It is the international festival aimed at short films that every year attracts more and more tourists.
To conclude, an additional motivation to visit Pentedattilo is the typical cuisine. The little restaurants offer an authentic cuisine, simple but rich in taste, able to give visitors an authentic experience, just as the village of Pentedattilo is authentic.
Village of Pentedattilo
Municipality of Melito di Porto Salvo
Città Metropolitana di Reggio Calabria
Inhabitants: 11.217 (Istat 01/01/2019)
Center altitude: 28 m s.l.m.
Viale Rimembranze - tel: 0965775111