24.05.2021 – 18:33
The Arbëresh village of Hagia Sophia (Italian: Santa Sofia d’Epiro), with over 2500 inhabitants in the province of Cosenza in Calabria is a place full of taste, style and beauty. The Arbëresh here largely preserve the traditions of the Albanian fathers, such as the ancient language, the Byzantine rite, the typical customs and traditions.
Today, when most of the Arbëresh villages in Southern Italy are still in a kind of closure, in terms of cultural activities, especially traditional Arbëresh manifestations, such a closure is difficult especially for this Arbëresh town, where during the previous period there were a lively cultural-artistic and sports activity. In addition to the inscription in Italian and Albanian, we met a girl who was walking with the Albanian two proudly in the shoulder bags with the inscription “Eagle”, after the name of the local group of songs and dances. It is this artistic group that I had the opportunity to know for two or three years to see in the traditional manifestation in the “Feast of Dances” in Çifti / Qivita, where the group “Eagle of St. Sophia” was the crown of this great Arbëresh cultural event.
From an article by Dr. Bexhet Asani, living in America (a big fan of Arbëresh), we learn that: The popular group “Shqiponjat” was born in the Arbëresh community of St. Sophia of Epirus in the spring of 1994 and became an association 10 years later. The purpose of the Arbëresh dance and song group “Shqiponjat” is to preserve and spread the artistic, historical and cultural heritage of the Arbëresh in general and the Arbëresh of St. Sophia in particular… “We also learn that this artistic group aims through presentations and concerts, : “Keep alive the customs, customs, dress, music, dances, songs, religion and traditional Arbëresh national cultural heritage, which is unique in essence, regardless of the nuances that differ from village to village, or from city to city, in the provinces of Calabria and Sicily ”…
Otherwise, the dress in the Arbëresh culture, plays a special role, especially here in St. Sofia, where the most special ornaments are during the cultural and artistic manifestations, especially since every Arbëresh village has its own style in making traditional clothes, almost entirely with hand. The other special thing is that the poor population, those who arrived in Calabria from Albania, however poor did not give up the beauty and kingdom of their clothes. This is best evidenced through the very rich museum of Arbëresh costumes in the village of Hagia Sophia.
The Costume Museum in Hagia Sophia or Santa Sofia d’Epiro is set up in the Palazzo Bugliari, a mid-nineteenth-century building better known as the Palazzo della Culture and home to the Municipal Library. So the dress itself, in the Arbëresh culture, is one of the most cultural and artistic manifestations. It is known that each Arbëresh center has its own style in making its traditional clothes entirely by hand: looking all together, the usual matrix is clearly known, but at the same time the peculiarities of each dress are identified. Despite the poor population, those who arrived in Calabria from Albania do not give up the beauty and kingdom of their clothes.
Through the museum in national costume through mannequins, you can observe the history of a people from a certainly unusual but very attractive point of view; exhibitions actually include casual attire, festive, semi-festive, wedding, or black costumes.
The Arbëresh natives, including those of St. Sophia, learn how they still lovingly preserve the traditions brought by the Albanian fathers, such as the ancient language, the Byzantine rite, customs, traditions and typical traditions.
While visiting this Arbëresh locality, it is worth visiting the museum, as well as the local library. Text and photos: Rexhep Rifati.