Calimera from Magna Graecia and the Griko people of Apulia

Calimera from Magna Graecia and the Griko people of Apulia

The opening scene of our new documentary said it all – ‘this is not a police chase, it’s a Greek chase’ – as a friendly Italian allowed us to follow him to find the Griko-speaking town of Calimera that we had come to experience.

Apulia, also known as Puglia, is the home of 13 Griko towns and a few thousand Griko speakers. Once upon a time, a visitor to Calimera and Apulia would not have needed an Italian stranger to follow in order to find the descendants of the Hellenes, Griko speakers, for their dialect was the lingua franca of the region until recent centuries.
I first visited Apulia with my then girlfriend in 2002. We made the trek after an inspiring few days visiting the Greko speakers of Calabria, a trip we will always be thankful to Carmelo Nucera, Professor Filippo Violi and writer Pat Porpiglia who became our passports to the Greko, which is a slightly different dialect to the Griko of Apulia. I vowed to return one day to document both Calabria and Apulia for the audience Down Under, especially as we had thought at the time that these people were in the last generation.

Fast forward to over 16 years and 20 kilos later, my London-based filmmaker buddy Basil Genimahaliotis and I made the trek to Calabria, and in Apulia we were joined by Greek-Italian Ida Zerva. She is not a Griko speaker, however she is a gracious host, allowing us to stay, eat Greek food, brainstorm and drink Italian coffee. We will never forget the seven-course meal she made for us…

read more: neoskosmos.com

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