Pavese and Calabria, a literary itinerary in Brancaleone

Brancaleone, exile of writer Cesare Pavese

© Regione Calabria

Art and Culture

Among the "literary places" of Calabria, certainly the town of Brancaleone, along the Costa dei Gelsomini in the province of Reggio Calabria, has left its mark more than others on the geographical landscape of Italian literature.

It was here, in fact, that the writer Cesare Pavese, Strega Prize winner in 1950 with his novel La bella estate, served his sentence in confinement, accused of anti-fascism for being suspected of associating with Leone Ginzburg's group of intellectuals.

Cesare Pavese and the confinement in Calabria

Three years of confinement in Brancaleone, in remote Calabria, in those years meant being cut off from the world.

Hence the importance of learning about the history and visiting the places in the land "under ban" that so profoundly influenced the work of the Piedmontese writer, originally from Santo Stefano Belbo, in the years following that experience.

Still intact, Pavese's house in Brancaleone is to all intents and purposes one of the best-kept and most visited house-museums in Calabria.

When you visit it, you can feel the writer's evocative presence, as if the bed, the desk, the books sent to him by his sister and the carbide lamp were waiting for his pages.

The small room where Cesare Pavese lived in Calabria looks out over the Ionian Sea, just as, even today, you can see the historic "Bar Roma" where the writer loved to read the newspaper and the rock from which he loved to dive or stand still, contemplating the sea.

Some of the oldest people in the village still remember the discreet presence of the writer who, within those walls, at that desk, composed his masterpiece entitled Il mestiere di vivere (a diary from 1935 to 1950), a testament written by the author up until a few days before his suicide.

On 9 August 1935, having just arrived in Brancaleone, Pavese wrote:

"Here I have found a great welcome. Good people, used to worse, try to keep me good and dear. [...]. That they are dirty here is a legend. They are sun-baked. The women comb their hair in the street, but vice versa, everyone takes a bath. There are many pigs, and amphoras are carried balanced on their heads. I will learn too, and one day I will earn my living in the varieties of Turin".

And again...

"The people of these countries are of a tact and courtesy that have only one explanation: here civilisation was once Greek.

What to see in and around Brancaleone

In addition to Cesare Pavese's house in Brancaleone, it is possible to visit other places that symbolise the history and unspoilt nature of the place.

A stroll along the 9 km of Ionian coast allows you to appreciate a crystal-clear sea in all seasons, a favourite destination for Caretta Caretta turtles that come here to nest every year.

It is no coincidence that Brancaleone is home to one of the most important Sea Turtle Recovery Centres in the Mediterranean, whose visit is a must for young and old alike. Connected to the centre, the Brancaleone Sea Museum is the other place to discover all the secrets of the area's marine fauna and flora.

Tartarughe caretta Caretta
Regione Calabria

Another identifying place not to be missed are the companies in the area that produce and process the prized Bergamot of Reggio Calabria PDO, one of the excellences of Calabrian agri-foodstuffs in demand throughout the world.

In addition to the sensory and taste itineraries, during harvest time it is possible to witness the processing and transformation of the fragrant Calabrian citrus fruit.

Among Brancaleone's historical monuments, the 16th-century Galati Tower, in the coastal hamlet of the same name, stands out, immersed in the silence of the hills cultivated with vineyards and olive groves.

Torre di Galati
Regione Calabria

Lovers of history and archaeology will be impressed by a visit to the Archaeological Urban Park of Brancaleone Vetus (the ancient Sperlinga), which stands behind the present-day town on a sandstone hill.

It is a true "ghost town", where ancient vestiges of the past are intertwined with wild nature, creating a series of unforgettable impressions.

Brancaleone Vetus
Regione Calabria

Ultimo aggiornamento: Feb 15, 2024 11:33 AM