Filadelfia (VV)

The utopia of the perfect town

Filadelfia lies at the end of the Serre Vibonesi and near to the Angitola reservoir; geographically, the town is just a few kilometres from both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.
Filadelfia originated from the existing settlement of Castel Monardo, a village destroyed by a series of violent earthquakes in 1783.
Filadelfia was reconstructed copying the same format as the American town of Philadelphia.

The surviving inhabitants abandoned the village and moved to a hill close to the original centre on the Gorna Plain. There, they founded the town of Filadelfia, which means ‘fraternal love’. Filadelfia was reconstructed copying the same format as the American town of Philadelphia, founded by William Penn a century before. The urban-planning layout has two arterial roads which cross, creating four quadrants with four churches and a large square at the centre. There is plenty of evidence of a regular exchange of letters between the founders of Filadelfia and Benjamin Franklin, the shrewd inspirer of the idea of reconstruction.


A campaign of archaeological digs has slowly brought the most important structures of the old village to light and this has kept the link with the past alive so that a profound, complete identity of the whole community has been built.
The link between the current inhabitants of Filadelfia and the ruins of the original village is kept alive through the work of the municipality, cultural groups, a pilgrimage in August and an exhibition in the auditorium.

The new idea of town

The convergence of the enlightened ideas of the baronial nobility, the participatory democracy of the townspeople and the contribution of the local clergy is behind the Filadelfia project, a town inspired by the free principles recalling the name and plan of the American Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Bishop Serrao wanted to give it this name “so that the inhabitants would always remember their Greek origin and recall and imitate the virtue of the ancestors but, in particular love like brothers and friends, not just each other but with the same feeling for all people.”

Tradition and folklore

There are many traditional festivals that have remained unchanged in time. There is the camel’s dance for the feast of S. Francesco accompanied by the centuries-old rhythm of the drums. Fires are lit at every crossroads on the feast of St. Anthony in his honour as a reminder of the time when herpes zoster (shingles), known in Italian as ‘St Anthony’s fire’, was very common.
The Carnevale ceremonies are some of the best-loved by the people as, historically, they exorcised death and poverty. Carnivalari, a greedy spendthrift who doesn’t stop eating or drinking - seven kilos of meatballs, sazizza (Calabrian sausage), red wine and dui tighiedi and pasta chijna, impersonates a historical representation in Filadelfia. In the end, he bursts, dies and is mourned by his sister Coraijsima and the people who carry him in a mad funeral procession; at the end, the puppet is burnt on a purifying fire.
There is the traditional presentation of the ‘cumprunti’ on Easter Sunday. The statues of St John, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and the resurrected Christ are placed in two different points of the village and then, carried shoulder-high by believers, the meeting of the Virgin Mary with her resurrected son is re-enacted while the bells ring out.

Ficarazza fountain

The fountain is at the entrance to the village and welcomes visitors.
It consists of three fountains, each topped by a sculpture with an apotropaic face (that averts evil) with water gushing from its mouth. The three faces depict hatred, love and oblivion.
There is a low wall opposite the fountain where young people meet and spend time together playing the guitar, eating water melon or just watching the sunset and looking at the landscape.



Address Corso Castelmonardo, 94
  89814 Vibo Valentia (CZ)
Phone number 0968 724122
Fax 0968 725338
Website www.comune.filadelfia.vv.it


Church of Santa Barbara

The church was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in the 1930s by Paolo Albera, Archbishop of Mileto, who, for budgetary reasons, ordered to reduce the perimeter. The majestic light stone façade has a portal with a tympanum and a front staircase. The upper area is decorated with a balcony parapet, and a polychrome glass window reproducing the image of Saint Barbara. A square solid bell tower is annexed to the church. The three-nave interior has ceilings decorated with canvases. The bust of Saint Barbara stands on the main altar. Among other treasures, a wooden 16th century crucifix, the work of a local artist named Timpano, deserves to be mentioned.  


Church of  San Teodoro d'Amasene

Originally, the church was a Basilian Abbey where Greek rite ceremonies were also performed. The outer perimeter was reduced and it became a noble chapel till 1950.

The portal on the façade is decorated with columns and lesenes, and a tympanus on top. Two smaller side entries have tympana and a semicircular windows on top. The higher façade is embellished by a square window and lesenes and rests on a balcony parapet. A Moorish style solid bell tower is located behind the church. The three-nave interior is sober and keeps few plain altars. The main one is decorated with the statue of Saint Theodore and, in the apse, some allegorical paintings reproduce scenes about meditation and the mercy of God.


Church of Madonna del Carmine

The church is a cream and red brick building. The façade portal is adorned with a coat-of-arms on top, eight lesenes and smaller entries on both sides. The three-nave interior is decorated with elegant stucco elements. The dome stands before the apse. It was painted by D. Grillo, a Pizzo painter, with images of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Saint Simone Stocco and other saints. On the lower walls of the dome, the four Evangelists were depicted.  In the central nave, on the right, the richly carved 1897 wooden pulpit has a baldachin with various sculpted groups, the work of Michele Servello, a local artist. Finally, the Church houses a marble statue of Maria SS. della Croce by Giovambattista Mazzolo, that was once located in the Augustine Monastery.



Church of San Francesco di Paola

It was built on a pre-exhisting chapel in the early 19th century. The single nave building was later enlarged. The façade is dominated by a large staircase and has a portal with a tympanus broken by a rose window. On each side, columns and lesenes cover the entire wall. On the sides of the main entry, two smaller doors have circular windows on top. The three nave interior keeps a marble altarpiece with a painting by Carmelo Davoli depicting Saint Francis of Paola.


Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

It is a small single nave church. It is characterized by a plain façade and an entry gate with the image of Our Lady of Graces on top. The church houses an altar with a statue of the Virgin Mary.


Church of San Nicola

It is located in the Montesoro district. It was recently built and has a plain façade with a rose window on top of the portal. A bell tower was included on the left side. The single nave interior is sober and keeps the statue of Saint Nicholas.