Today, Cirò Marina has become a well-known coastal centre which, over the years, has gained the Blue Flag for the quality of the sea and the Green Flag for the wellbeing of children. People go to Cirò to enjoy the sea and take part in various water sports but also to find out about the history of the area which has its archaeological finds providing evidence of its importance at the time of Magna Graecia.
The area is nurtured by its two treasures - the sea and the land, which gives products of great quality that are recognised everywhere such as wine and citrus fruit. Fishing and agriculture, with the production of DOC wines and mandarin oranges and also companies processing and preserving vegetables and fish are the main activities in Cirò Marina, and tourism is now becoming more important as well. The coat of arms of the town bears the profile of Bacchus, the god of wine and, playing on its strong points, wine (vino) and sea (mare), it calls itself the ‘territorio di Vino d’Amare’.
The events that take place in Cirò Marina include the Focareddi di San Giuseppe, the lighting of the traditional fires in the districts in March. In April, there are several religious ceremonies and markets for the Fiera di San Francesco (St Francis’s Fair). The Festa di San Cataldo, patron saint of the town, is celebrated early in May with four days of dates, including the evocative procession in the sea and the pilgrimage to the church of the Madonna di Mare, where the saint’s statue is kept for a time.
In August, there are the Calici di Vino event and the Sagra del pesce azzurro (Oily fish festival).
No other Italian region boasts the number and biodiversity, including inter-variety, of native Calabrian vines. The viticulture of Cirò, renowned for the undisputed quality and also the varieties that still survive in its vineyards, has exceptional valency because of the extraordinary age; in fact, the prized local wine production was talked about in the Roman period. Looking at the distant past in the Cirò vineyards, a return can be made there without forgetting the importance of experimentation and research.
The first Greek settlers arrived on the coast and were impressed by the fertility of the land; they brought new vineyards to plant. The wine produced, called Cremissa, became the official wine of the Olympics and was probably the first example of a sponsor using the current definition. The tradition was brought back to life, particularly to relaunch the image of Cirò wine, at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 where all the athletes taking part were given the chance to taste Cirò as the official wine. In recent years, Cirò, particularly the red wine, is reacquiring its former grandeur, also because of the number of companies which have been able to modernise, without denying tradition, both the vines and the wine-making techniques.
So the wines of Cirò Marina, to all intents and purposes the wine town, are well-liked. The wine comes mainly from the Gaglioppo wine used for the production of three types of Cirò DOC - red, rosé and white. The fruity, enveloping scent and the intense yet balanced flavour are ideal for drinking with traditional recipes that are a harmony of land and sea.
The building hosting the museum was refurbished in the early 20th century and then later acquired by the Municipality of Cirò, which restored it and adapted it to house the museum. The top floor is set out as a conference room. The entrance doorway is arched; the building has several entrances and characteristic balustrade balconies overlooking the main square of the town.
The exhibition hall of the Cirò Marina Civic Archaeological Museum houses articles, particularly from the Bruttian period, found in the many necropoleis scattered throughout the area, and finds from the Temple of Apollo area. The high spot is the cast of the acrolith statue of the god Apollo, exhibited at Princeton Museum in the US for 4 years.
The rich collections of grave goods, consisting of symposium and military articles found in the tombs of males, confirm that the Bruttians were specialised in the equestrian arts. The tombs of females have revealed coins, domestic and cosmetic items. The upper floor of the museum has a permanent exhibition on underwater archaeology.
Spiciness predominates in the local cuisine, loyal to the Mediterranean diet. Sardella, prepared with anchovy whitebait, spicy red pepper and wild fennel seeds, well-known and sought after. Oily fish are prepared in many different ways - fried ‘surici’ (pearly razorfish) alternate with ‘pruppi e pipi’ (octopus and chilli pepper), stuffed anchovies or ‘arriganate’ (tossed in the frying pan with a little vinegar and oregano), roasted sardines and swordfish. Another dish featuring this type of fish is the anchovy salad where the anchovies are cleaned, covered in lemon juice, left to rest for an hour and then presented with a slice of fresh spring onion, fennel, oranges and olives, all seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Peasant food has left a legacy of many dishes for the preparation of preserves. The olives ‘alla calce’ and ‘schiacciate’, aubergines in oil or vinegar, and sun-dried tomatoes and peppers, which become ‘i pipi ‘e filari’, are tasty. Homemade pasta is a favourite, for serving with sauces of pork, kid, or lamb, and with legumes.