Winner of AIFIN 2009 Prize 'Banca e Territorio'

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Spezzano Albanese is a town with an arbëreshë (italo-albanian) ethnicity, culture and language. It is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the plain of Sybaris and the valley of Esaro. With ancient origins, it has archaeological remains from the Iron Age, some cemeteries and a circular tower called Torre Mordillo. A second archaeological site, Torre Scriba, is a Norman military settlement, but the current shape and culture of the town are the result of a massive immigration of people from southern Albania. Around 1470, in fact, many Albanians arrived in these territories escaping from the invasion of their Country by the Ottoman Turks.

The town already existed before the arrive of the Albanian refugees and was called “Casale di Spizzano”. It was in the feud called Sagitta, a property of the princes Sanseverino. The residential centre was near and around the church of Holy Mary of Grace, an important centre of spirituality, and then it expanded gradually to the top of the hill.

In the early XVII century the town was interested in a demographic expansion after which other ecclesiastical centres were born. Because of the Albanian culture, all of the churches were orthodox. The greek rite was abandoned only after violent and dramatic actions promoted by the new prince Spinelli di Cariati. He didn’t want to approve the immunity to the orthodox clergy, so he imposed to the archpriest Nicola Basta to accept the latin rite. The archpriest refused, so he was imprisoned, tortured and then murdered in the castle of Terranova. The rite was officially changed into the latin rite in 1668 by order of the Holy See.

During the napoleonic era, Spezzano Albanese was freed from feudality and, in the early XIX century, became the capital of the district, expanding its territories, acquiring new offices and welcoming the passage of the new street “Consolare delle Calabrie”, the current Statale 19, commissioned by the king of Naples Gioacchino Murat. This street was crucial for the development of the town, which significantly increased its wealth and its economy.

Today Spezzano is an important centre for the protection of the albanian language in Italy. After the come into force of the law 482/1999, in fact, the institutions are committed to preserve and enhance it, allowing it to use, whether written or oral, also in relations with public administrations.

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