Diamante in Calabria – The chilli capital of Italy
Diamante in Calabria is really a fairly ordinary town by the seaside, but they’ve invented something that makes the town hot from a tourist perspective.
It’s been 10 years since we last visited Diamante in Calabria and heard about the annual chilli festival that takes place around the second weekend of September every year. Since then peperoncini have taken over the town and given it a strong identity that helps to distinguish Diamante from most other seaside towns on Mar Tirreno.
– You really should come back here during the Chilli festival, our landlady told us. It’s spectacular with exhibitions, theater and performances by artists from all over the world. And then there are free tastings, pizza and dancing in the streets.
Added tourist value
You’ll see the link to peperoncini as soon as you enter Diamante. From pavilions along the seaside promenade strings of green and red chilli peppers are hung out to dry, and in the narrow streets behind the small natural harbour preserved chilli adorn every balcony and there’s a chilli shop on every corner.
Here you can buy chocolate with chilli, olio sante with chilli, chilli sausages, chilli pastes, chili liquors and chilli sauces as well as ceramics, fridge magnets and tea towels with a peperoncino inspired pattern. It can get a little sickening. But the chilli hype cannot disguise the fact that Diamante in Calabria is a very charming seaside town with lots of personality. And an initiative like the chilli festival gives added tourist value and helps to keep this small community on the fringe of Italy alive and affluent thanks to the jobs created by the tourist industry.
From that perspective the peperoncino industry in Diamante deserves our full support. And I’ve still got a string of chilli to remind me of hot summer days in Calabria.