Falconara Albanese,  21 Ottobre 2003
Translated by Angelo Buffone


The History.

It is not clear what year Falconara was established as accurate documents have not been found. The only information can be found in the "Rivista Calabrese", founded in 1800 AD by G.B. Moscato the priest of San Lucido. Amongst many of Moscato’s correspondents, was Ferdinando Riggio, a promising scholar from Falconara. When Ferdinando emigrated to America, he left behind the Moscato manuscripts. The manuscripts disclose that Falconara was founded by “seven (7) families” Musacchio, Manes, Fionda, Josci, Candreva, Staffa and Scuragrec, who arrived in Calabria in 1498 AD when Elena (or Eleonora), sister of Giovanni Castriota the King of Albania (and daughter of Giorgio Castriota known as SKANDERBEG Beyalessandro), (a reference to Alessandro the Great "MAGNO"), became bride to the Prince of Bisignano Sollazzi whose ancestors in 1229 were a rich and powerful family in Calabria with estates stretching as far as the Puglia. The refugees, who accompanied the beautiful Elena, chose as their first stop the district of San Pietro. This was Probably due to the "abbatial" feuds on the East side of the Appennine mountain range that overlooks the neighbouring village of Fiumefreddo (see inset below). They made it their place of residence for nearly 30 years, until having been disturbed by the sight of “black sails” (symbol of Turkish Corsair) in the distant horizon, they made their way inland. The first settlement of the village took place presumably in 1517 in the district of "MANESATO" (where the first church "Sant'Attanasio" was erected) and "KURTINA". Ferdinando Riggio is in agreement with Moscato upon the arrival date in Calabria, but they disagree on the year when the refugees sought a more peaceful place to settle. A deduction that 1595 was the year that the migration took place, can probably be reached from a recollection in the register of 1588 from the parish priest of Longobardi, Nicola Barone. Ferdinando Riggio maintains that between 1487 and 1555 the Falconarese people resided elsewhere. With the absence of any documentation, information passed down through the generations is the only means of reference that Falconara Albanese was founded after 1648 from the aforesaid families, originating from "CROIA" (a City bravely safeguarded by Skanderbeg) from "SCUTARI" (which at the time was under Turkish occupation) or from "CORONE" in Albania. The Candreva and Musacchio families were blood relatives of Prince Skanderbeg. The Josci and Scuragreco families became extinct by the end of the 19th century. To this day “PRROI JOSCH” is the name of a place outside the centre of the village named after the founding Josci family. (PRROI meaning torrent). From 1629 other families came to live amongst the founding Albanian families: these included the "Tocci, Baffa and Formosa". In the 1700, the “Lupi, Genovese, Riggio and Caracciolo” families, also settled in the community. According to word of mouth on the 26th April 1468 the “frame” of the Madonna (Our Lady), (Patron Saint of the Albanians) became disengaged from the high altar at the Church in Scutari and guided the exodus to Italy. To this day Our Lady is revered with the title: “Madonna del Buon Consiglio” (Our Lady of Good Counsel).This frame of the Madonna, is in the custody at the Sanctuary - Basilica del “Buon Consiglio” of Genazzano, Roma (A link to the sanctuary can be accessed by clicking on to Gennazano). The emigration of the Albanians has been tied to historic events that took place in the Balkan peninsular. The Albanian provinces and major parts of Europe were at the time conquered by the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire. This story is the most consistent and coincides with the death of our valiant hero Giorgio Castriota SKANDERBEG, on the 17th of January 1468, whilst courageously fighting the armies of Sultan Murad the II and Mohamed the II. Skanderbeg came to Italy in 1459 to help King Ferdinand of Naples, who at the time was in conflict with Giovanni d'Angiò, and for 20 years was able, with the help of guerillas, to hinder and stem the flow of the Islamic army. The King of Naples was very proud of the Albanian soldiers because they would emerge from battle either victorious or dead, whilst the mercenary troops very often would betray him and sell themselves to the highest bidder. Skanderbeg’s death was the beginning of dissipation for the Albanians, who torn apart by civil war and the Turks, became subservient, 1st to the protectorate of Venice and then to the authority of Turkey. According to hearsay, whilst traveling the refugees landed in Sicily after a rainstorm (see Piana of the Albanesi) and crossed the sea into Calabria (main land Italy) in the region of Fiumefreddo Bruzio on the estates of Girolamo Sanseverino Prince of Bisignano, who let the Albanians settle in a region named “Campo” (“Field”), on the outskirts of the town. These refugees consisted mainly of past warriors and sheppard’s. In Calabria, during that period, a profound political, socio-economic crisis existed. The countryside was becoming depopulated and the need of manual labour was in great demand. The lands now tendered by these refugees yielded good harvests. Unfortunately “good or bad” it all came to a harsh end, the Fiumefreddo folk frightened by the incursion of Turkish corsair’s, forced the Prince to move these hard-working people, away from his lands. Other sources relate that the seven (7) families sought to move voluntarily. Due to their enlargement the need for more space and land for cultivation to sustain them became imperative. One may hypothesize other motives for these movements: language, costumes, religious beliefs (Greek-Byzantine rite), that arise from a close-knit community finding difficulty with rapid integration with other communities. First and foremost these expatriates established themselves in a zone named San Pietro, a small distance from the coast between the territory of San Lucido and Fiumefreddo, bordered by the locality’s of "Malpertuso" and "Fabiano", an area rich in vegetation and with a mild climate. Settling in the lands that belonged to Nicola Ringo (still known today as Colaring), they began to build simple housing and a Church. Today the threshing floor where they danced the "vallja" remains. With the fear of the Turks still vivid, they ventured further still inland giving rise to Falconara as it stands today. This occurrence is taken into account in the "vallja" (a typical Albanian dance accompanied by the sound of a tambourine). An elderly woman, after a moment of bewilderment on seeing the sails of a Turkish ship nearing the shore, uttered the famous words: “oh that gentle rose, my daughter-in-law and that rose that is my daughter, take to the mountains, hurry leave the dance, for the cause of your tears is here, the Turk has arrived”. Another scholar from Falconara, Felice Staffa (1801-1870), provided Cesare Malpiga (a Calabrese writer of that era) with a different version of events “ Seventeen (17) families, a total of one hundred people, left Corone in six small Calabrian ships guided by Baron Nicola Staffa and landed in the territory of Fiumefreddo. According to Malpigia “during the cold and rainy night, they roamed from valley to valley, peak to peak through torrents and ravines. At the break of dawn they came to rest on the summit of a hill, near an old Falcon nest, where the only strangers to cut through the skies are the Eagles that soar through the Alps and migrating African birds. Leading the group were two mature men, diverse in attitude and aspect. The fist man is equipped with only a scimitar to defend himself. The second is without any weapons, wearing a long dark garment, his hair hanging loose and leans against a grapevine. On reaching the top, they all have a rest. The two leaders then climb up to a more elevated position, to gaze at the surrounding area. The echoes from the mountains vibrate with shouts of joy. Everyone is delighted with this newfound land. Then every single individual lifts their hands to the skies, thanking the Lord, whilst the men dressed in dark garments (Priests) bless them, after having blessed the hillside they are at”. This poetic version of events, recalls Enea upon arriving in the lands of Latino. The Historian Gustavo Valente states in the of the Dictionary of Calabrian territories, (“Dizionario dei luoghi della Calabria") that the territory of Falconara Albanese, at that time was a hamlet of Fiumefreddo Bruzio and as such it followed the feudal laws of the time. These lands up to the end of 1528 were in the possession of the Sanseverinos, until the subversion of the feudal hostilities. In 1806, the Marquis of Rende was the owner, the land was just dense forest, full of wild animals and probably inhabited by one or two shepard families. The seven families were granted grazing rights, timber, the use of the springs, with the possibility to deforest and cultivate the lands. In exchange for these rights, they had to work free of charge for an agreed amount of days in the Barons private lands and pay him in kind. Encouraged by the presence of all the raw materials useful for construction they began to deforest, build the first haystacks, sow seeds and rear sheep for milk and wool, while others hunted. In the first years they endured poverty and misery. The precarious economic conditions prevented any form of development thus compelling them to live in ignorance. Isolated geographically and with an incomprehensible language for the neighbouring villages, the diversity of their character together with the religious beliefs (Greek/Byzantine) marked their existence. Finally with the fear of the Turks easing they divided the territory and gave names to many districts. Manesato exists still today (land inhabited by the Manes family) where the fist church was established and dedicated to Sant' Attanasio. In the region of Staffa, (the scholar mentioned above) only a piazza remains. Other place names go back to the particularity of the seven families. For example "Prroi i Markes" the brook of the Marchioness of Mendoza, whom, when she came to Falconara, usually made a stop there. With the passing of the years, other Albanian families gave names to other districts of the town, ("Kroi i Sikurit" literally, fountain of the Sicuri). Around the end of the 16th and 17th century, Albanian surnames were registered in the council of San Lucido. The relationship between the people of Falconara, San Lucido and Fiumefreddo has been consolidated through the passing of the years. Originally Falconara was named just “Falconara”. In fact a document from Germany refers to a privilege granted by Emperor Frederic II to the Pope, with regards to the Cosentine Church Rende and the Rende farmhouses, "Falkunaria" appeared. Other sources go as far as to say, that the name originates from the name of the Falcon bird that nested amongst the crevices of the “Castellucio” (A rock in the middle of the town, see description below), whilst others say that the name derived from the name "Falcone", an ancient war machine used as defense against pirate assaults. It was in 1863 that "Falconara Albanese" or "Fallkunara Arbëreshe" assumed the present name. The main sources of work were agriculture, sheep farming and early Silk production. At the beginning of the 20th century the scourge of mass immigration started taking place, towards the Americas (North and South) and parts of Europe. Originally the population was no more than 270 people, increasing by 1951 to 2372 people. Presently the population amounts to 1100. 

From a document dated 17th October 1872 No. 219 (filed in the Municipal office of Falconara Albanese), signed by the then mayor Giovanni Petrucci, the following notices are manifested. (herewith I cite the original text, a copy of which I own).

Neighborhood historical illustrative.

The characteristic of the region is that it has never been subject to any cataclysms, the land consist of stony ground, on which a variety of woods reside, a variety of fruit trees Mulbey, Olives, Figs exist and grapevines.

Rivers: of which there are two (2). One named “Peschiera”, along which, you find big beautiful exquisite trout, joining the river “Flaviano” further on, this river divides Falconara from the territory of Fiumefreddo Bruzio, the other river is named "Malpertuso”, separating the communes of Falconara with that of San Lucido. The principal mountains are: “Timpa Del Cozzo”, “Bicatundo” and “Frozzo”.

The town’s geography is more or less of flat ground with a slight downward gradient, surrounded by not too distant mountains. The air is salubrious with an abundance of fresh water. The distance to the sea is 3,740 km. and 7,407km from Fiumefreddo (the principality’s administrative centre) and of equal distance to San Lucido.

The principal industries are: agriculture and sheep farming. The inhabitant’s resources are: wheat, potatoes and general cereals.

This ground has been a theatre of blood, arson and ruin, during 1806, from the hordes of French brigades.

The town is devoid of any structures showing solidarity, nor castles. It is, however, surrounded by mountains. In the north of the village, an isolated gigantic high rock, named “Castelluccio”, which seems to have been shaped by the use of a pick, is to be admired. At its peak stands a chapel, consecrated to the “Vergine Madre Assunta”. Access to the chapel is via ninety (90) steps carved out of stone to the north side of the rock, preceded by a spacious atrium/porch. Miraculously on that naturally self ornate rock face, protrude big wooded elks and fruit-bearing trees of every kind crown the branches, which are perpetually dressed in foliage, flowers festooning and hanging all around. That rock is a true forest raised to the sky. Therein with sound devotion and care, from the advocate “Nicola Davide Riggio” persist that every year, on the 15th August the feast of the “Vergine Madre Assunta” is preceded by 15 days of festivities, beginning on the 1st August. The surrounding roads underlying the Castelluccio area are also named Castelluccio, from the original beginning of the village, dating back 4 centuries, between 1478 and 1492. Falconara became colonized by the “seven (7) Albanian noble families”, who followed the kin of Giorgio Castriota, King of Albania, after being compelled to flee their homeland, riches and Kingdom, due to being overcome by the conquest of the Turkish Ottoman empire. Of the seven families remain: “Musacchio, Staffa, Manes, Fionda, Josci, Candreva and Scuragreco”. Some were akin to Castriota due to parental lineage; Giovanni Musacchio Count of Musachiena, was the nephew to the King and Paolo Manes a close blood relative, this appears in the record of Giovanni d’Aragona, King of Sicily. The remaining five (5) families were of noble and military standing pledging an oath of loyalty to the royal family. Slowly the increasing number of inhabitants was to rekindle/reawaken their love of writing. In fact, throughout there has never been a shortage of illustrious or scholastic men. (The author then continues with digression on the illustrious personage of the village, that has been dealt with in the section purposely to them dedicated saying...). The inventiveness in music, poetry, letters, science and the management of weapons , if cultivated, would not differ from an era gone by.

The Mayor Giovanni Petrucci.

The major part of the information contained herein are the fruits of thorough research, put under close scrutiny from the numerous document data, not only published in the last few years, but also of documented data from the latter part of the 1800. from the sources of consultation there is also documentation “Falconara Albanese” between history and tradition” written by S. Genoese, author from Falconara.

«Falconara Map»


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