Versione Italiana







Il portale di palazzo Damiani


I pignari


Sotto la neve


Portal of the Damiani Palace View

I pignari


Under the snow


IL PAESE (The Village)

Sant'Andrea is a small and ancient village that looks out upon the Ionian coast of Calabria and is blessed with breathtaking, magnificent landscapes.
Its ancient historical centre was the heart of thriving economic and cultural activities. The numerous churches, ruins of ancient windmills, oil presses, old kilns and palatial houses with imposing granite portals are tangible indication of Sant'Andrea's glorious past.
Some typical characteristics of the medieval parish can still be observed in the remains of the ancient walls, access routes to the village protected by gates, in the low jumbled houses with living quarters situated in the upper floor (mugnanu) and in the tortuous narrow lanes (vineddi).



The village (Casale) originated between the eleventh and twelfth century, within the vicinities of an abbey founded by monks.
 On the run from the iconoclastic fury of Byzantium, the monks landed initially in Sicily, sometime between the eighth and the ninth centuries, subsequently migrating to Calabria following the Arab conquest of Sicily. We owe to the Byzantines the introduction to our region of sericulture, very popular in Sant'Andrea until few decades ago, and also the farming of the mulberry bush, whose leaves are indispensable as feed for silkworms. Furthermore, Greek influence is still prominent in onomastics, topology and on the Andreolese dialect.

The precepts of the Basilian (from Saint Basil) monks were based on prayer, brotherhood, humbleness, meditation and self-discipline followed by study and manual work in crafts and agriculture. Attached to the abbey, there were often buildings such as orphanages, hospitals and shops for the poverty stricken unemployed.
The Basilian monks founded several cernobi or hermitages in the hills of the Ionian and Tirrenian coasts. On the hills of Sant'Andrea the remains of that particularly interesting historical era are still visible. The first example of this period is a small abbey established around the ninth century. Later, between the tenth and the eleventh centuries, the Church of S.Nicola di Cammerota, was erected on the hill of Condo', some two hundred metres North of the original abbey (grangia).
The Chiesa di Campo is a further example of a Byzantine church and is mentioned in early documents with the name of S.Martino and subsequently with the name of S.Maria del Campo. It is the classic example of a rural church, which the Basilians built in the countryside to provide encouragement and hope to the peasants.

The oldest document in which Sant'Andrea is mentioned dates back to 1131. In this year the Grangia di Tutti i Santi (All Saint Abbey) around which developed the Casale (hamlet) of Sant'Andrea was built.
In its early history, the Casale of Sant'Andrea was part of the parish of Badolato and remained so until the fifteenth century under the tutelage of the Basilian monks and later of the Certosini (Carthusian monks).

In the fifteenth century, following an order by the Norman king to equip the Calabrian coast with defensive posts against Turkish and Saracen incursions, Belvedere Castle was built. The Castle, with its four towers (one of which, still standing, is the present day clock tower) eventually became the principal church of the village, Chiesa Matrice, in the 1700s. (The church was unfortunately demolished in 1966).
In 1727 the village was also given three city gates, built in local granite: one at the Castle, where today stands the clock tower, one in Malajra (rebuilt) and a third still showing signs of the French aggression.

In the seventeen hundreds, the Church of Sant'Andrea was rebuilt adjacent to the third of the gates noted above and the Church of S.Rocco.
Crossing the narrow lanes of the village, one can admire the stunning portals built in granite with several depictions of lions, men and women and coats of arms of ancient families. The portals are datable with accuracy from the beginning of the 1600s to the end of the 1800s (Jannoni Palace 1600, Calabretta Palace 1720, Damiani Palace 1754).

On 7th February 1783 an earthquake measuring nine degrees on the Mercalli Scale (7 on the Richter Scale) with its epicentre in Soriano hit Calabria killing 40,000. In Sant'Andrea the Churches of Campo and Santa Maria in Arce were destroyed. 

Another terrible episode in the history of Sant'Andrea was in 1806 with the attack by the French.
On the fourth of October 1806, Napoleon soldiers led by General Lucotte, camped in the proximities of the village and demanded provisions for their troops. The Andreolese authorities had already consented to welcome the French peacefully and to comply with their wishes; however, the actions of a young Andreolese who acted either autonomously or 'instigated by the Bourbonic factions' gave to the event an unexpected twist; the young man laid in wait on a 'Altura di Sciliperto' (Sciliperto rise) and opened fire on the French camp injuring a field aid of the General and, returning to the village, organised the defence with 'men of his own party'. 

The French arrived in Sant'Andrea outside the Eastern door, situated next to the church of the Patron Saint and from there they proceeded to attack. The Andreolesi staged an audacious and obstinate defence that however was broken from the highly superior power of the French, who looted and burned the village. That day 46 people died, including 'Zziu Ntuani' and "Panzaredda', the fearless protagonists of that resistance. They say that on the 5th October 1806, before leaving the village, Lucotte soldiers had dragged out of the church the statue of the Saint with the intention of hurling it down the precipice. They tried to push it down but the statue would not bulge, as if it were rooted to the ground. As a result one of the soldier unsheathed his bayonet and blinded the Saint by digging out his eyes.



Piazza Castello and Corso Umberto, whose granite paviers date back to the 1930s, make up the heart of the village. Next to the square, stands the great elm (olmo) and the granite fountain built in 1871. The square takes its name from the castle that used to stand nearby. The clock tower is in reality the only stronghold remaining of the ancient fortress.

La torre dell' orologio
I meccanismi dell' orologio

The clock mechanism


I meccanismi dell' orologio

I meccanismi dell' orologio

The clock mechanism


The clock Tower


LA CHIESA DI S. ANDREA (Saint Andrew Church)

Chiesa di Sant' Andrea
La facciata

The church front


Church of Sant' Andrea

The danger of continuous Saracen invasions forced the inhabitants of the coast to move to the hills to build in more safe and protected surroundings. The founders of Sant'Andrea Apostolo dello Jonio set as their choice the steepest side of the hill. The Basilians introduced the cult of Saint Andrew, of Greek origins, during the Byzantine domination. From the setting and the appearance we can date the church to the eleventh century by its not easily reachable location, its apse set to the East, irregular design due to the angularity of the location and flat oval windows. Next to the church can still be seen the hermit cell, next to the cell until last century stood a squat bell tower surmounted by a spherical vault housing the bell. 

During the following centuries the church has suffered gradual deterioration, changes and developments. Nevertheless the original configuration is still Basilian-Byzantine. Inside you can admire paintings, together with an altar of fine craftsmanship and the statue of the Saint dating according to some around the year 1000.


(Abbey of  the Cartusian Monks)
(now Abbey of the Nuns Riparatrici)

Colonnato della Grangia dei Certosini
  Il chiostro  

The colonmnate

Il portale La navata L' organo

The portal

The nave

The organ

Il Colonnato

In 1131 stood the Grangia di Tutti i Santi (All Saints Abbey) around which developed the hamlet of Sant'Andrea. 
In 1500 it was remodelled and enlarged by the Certosini monks from Sierra San Bruno and it is to these times that we owe the majestic façade and the cloister.

 The monks held substantial land property derived from donations and purchases, which were their main form of income. In Sant'Andrea, the monks possessed significant property in the marina and the area surrounding the Vallone di Bruno. The cellarer, aided by his lay brothers, was in charge of the management of these holdings and produce of these lands. In the Grangia some of the rooms were utilised as stables while some were used as warehouses for storing legumes, cereals, wines, cheeses etc. The abbey was entirely self-sufficient. The monks were exempt from the direct rule of the bishops, therefore the jurisdiction of abbeys and monasteries was in the hands of the Abbot.

The present structure has changed considerably from these times. Since the monks relinquished the abbey there has been constant remodelling until, in the last century, for the wish of Baron Pier Nicola Scoppa, the magnificent loggia (loggiato), a splendid terrace bounded by a granite stone colonnade of rare beauty overlooking the Gulf of Squillace, was built. 

Baroness Scoppa bequeathed the estate to the Suore Riparatrici (Nuns), who still live there. The convent still houses magnificent artistic treasures, such as the valuable hand painted tiles dating back to the 1700s and the internal furnishing and fittings.


The translation is by Anna Mongiardo Goodman


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