Old Calabria By Norman Douglas

 -  Noi siamo calabresi! they proudly
say, meaning that they are above suspicion of unfair dealing. As a
matter of fact - Page 160
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Noi Siamo Calabresi!

They proudly say, meaning that they are above suspicion of unfair dealing.

As a matter of fact, they are a muddled brood, and considerably given to cheating when there is any prospect of success. You must watch the peasants coming home at night from their field-work if you wish to see the true Calabrian type - whiskered, short and wiry, and of dark complexion. There is that indescribable mark of race in these countrymen; they are different in features and character from the Italians; it is an ascetic, a Spanish type. Your Calabrian is strangely scornful of luxury and even comfort; a creature of few but well-chosen words, straightforward, indifferent to pain and suffering, and dwelling by preference, when religiously minded, on the harsher aspects of his faith. A note of unworldliness is discoverable in his outlook upon life. Dealing with such men, one feels that they are well disposed not from impulse, but from some dark sense of preordained obligation. Greek and other strains have infused versatility and a more smiling exterior; but the groundwork of the whole remains that old homo ibericus of austere gentlemanliness.

Rossano was built by the Romans, says Procopius, and during Byzantine days became a fortress of primary importance. An older settlement probably lay by the seashore, and its harbour is marked as "good" so late as the days of Edrisius. Like many of these old Calabrian ports, it is now invaded by silt and sand, though a few ships still call there. Wishful to learn something of the past glories of the town, I enquired at the municipality for the public library, but was informed by the supercilious and not over-polite secretary that this proud city possesses no such institution.

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