Of all the medieval old quarters (the borghi) of Calabria, one that stands out is the one of magic Melissa, which is located among luxurious vineyards and enchanting hills that offer a wonderful view right to the sandy shores of the Ionian Sea. Melissa stands 256 meters above sea level and has a characteristic terraced structure. The town has 3,245 inhabitants and was built on a rocky ridge along the hill range extending between the Ionian Sea and the eastern edge of the Sila Grande plateau. The historic center maintains the suggestive characteristics of a typical medieval quarter, with narrow streets for pedestrians only and the remains of an imposing town wall. Melissa certainly has ancient origins, dating back perhaps to the ancient Greek colonies which were established along the Ionian coast, and mentioned in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. The town’s name, from the ancient Greek “μέλισσα”, means “the land of bees and honey”. The community has seen various feudal lords since medieval times: the De Micheli family, of Venetian origin, and then the Campitelli and Pignatelli families. The townspeople tried several times to rebel against the latter two feudal families who had taken their lands and over which they claimed ownership. This discontent continued into modern times with the tragically famous date of 29 October 1949, when some peasant farmers in the Fragalà district tried to occupy some uncultivated fields; in the ensuing clashes with the police, 14 people were wounded and 3 died from gunfire.
In 1979, the artist Ernesto Treccani dedicated a Monument to the Fallen of Fragalà to the people of Melissa in order to celebrate those who struggled and sacrificed themselves for the rights of the Melissa population.
Visit the Borgo of Melissa and stroll through the streets that tell its tale!
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