Feb 24, 2011

Nikos Deja Vu - Magna Graecia and the Griko Language (16/4/2008 blog Revised)

Magna Graecia

The Griko language

Griko, sometimes spelled Grico, is a Modern Greek dialect which is spoken by people in the Magna Graecia region in southern Italy and Sicily, and it is otherwise known as the Grecanic language. Greeks often call the dialect Katoitaliotika (Greek: Κατωιταλιώτικα, "Southern Italian") and sometimes Calabrian, although the latter may also serve as an euphemism for a Greek-Italian pidgin language.

Two small Griko-speaking communities survive today in the Italian regions of Calabria (Province of Reggio Calabria) and Puglia (peninsula of Salento). The Griko-speaking area of Salento comprises nine small towns in the Grecia Salentina region (Calimera, Martano, Castrignano de' Greci, Corigliano d'Otranto, Melpignano, Soleto, Sternatia, Zollino, Martignano), with a total of 40,000 inhabitants. The Calabrian Griko region also consists of nine villages in Bovesia, and four districts in the city of Reggio Calabria, but its population is significantly smaller.

The most prevalent theory on the origin of Griko is the one by Gerhard Rohlfs and G. Hatzidakis, stating that Griko's roots go as back in history as the time of the ancient Greek colonisation of Southern Italy and Sicily, in the 8th century BC. In that respect, this Southern Italian dialect is the last living trace of the Greek elements that once formed Magna Graecia. This theory is backed by evidence regarding the multitude of Doric words and other ancient Greek items of vocabulary in Griko. Griko, just like Tsakonian (a Southern Greek dialect), hails from the Doric branch of the Ancient Greek language and has evolved independently from Hellenistic Koine (from where Modern Greek Koine stems). However Griko and Common Modern Greek are mutually intelligible to some extent.

There is rich oral tradition and Griko folklore. Griko songs, music and poetry are particularly popular in Italy and Greece. Famous music groups from Salento include Ghetonia and Aramire. Also, influential Greek artists such as Dionysis Savvopoulos and Maria Farantouri have performed in Griko.

The Italian parliament has recognized the Griko community of Salento as an ethnic and linguistic minority, under the name of "Minoranze linguistiche Grike dell'Etnia Griko-Salentina" (linguistic minority of the Griko-Salentinian ethnicity).


Since 1999, when the Griko speaking communities of Puglia and Calabria got well organized, the Griko language began being fully implemented in about a dozen or so communities in the area so that the children could begin to retain the language. Now almost 7 full years later, the extent of the language, and its everday use, has amazed both locals and people in Greece.

Coming back from the point of near extinction, severe measures were taken to recognize the Griko speaking minority of southern Italy as a distinct cultural entity of the country. Now there are not only schools which teach Griko, but cultural associations as well as a daily newspaper.

Recently, a survey was conducted in one of the towns where Griko is spoken widely, (Corigliano d'Otranto) and it was found to be that over 300 students in that town alone were learning the language. Sample Griko text from

a popular Griko (central/south Italy) song:


Εβώ πάντα σε σένα πενσέω,
γιατί σένα φσυκή μου 'γαπώ,
τσαι που πάω, που σύρνω, που στέω
στην καρδιά μου πάντα σένα βαστώ.


Evo panta se sena penseo,
yiati sena fsichi mou ghapo,
ce pou pao, pou syrno, pou steo
stin kardia mou panta sena vasto.

Modern Greek

Εγώ πάντα εσένα σκέφτομαι,
γιατί εσένα ψυχή μου αγαπώ,
και όπου πάω, όπου σέρνομαι, όπου στέκω,
στην καρδιά μου πάντα εσένα βαστώ.


Ego panta esena skeftome,
yiati esena psihi mou aghapo,
ke opou pao, opou sernome, opou stekome
stin kardia mou panta esena vasto.

"Pinguli Pinguli Giuvacchinu" & "Lu purtuni"
Savina Yannatou singing a song from Apulia, Southern Italy.
Actually it's 2 traditional tunes merged into 1 song

"Ela ela mu konda"

~ e' una bellissima canzone musicata da Faustino Petronio, su una lirica di Mastr'Angelo Maesano (Roghudi Vecchio 1915 - Roghudi Nuovo 2000), grande poeta della tradizione Greco-Calabra. In questa versione suona e canta, in modo magistrale, Toto' Navella di Galliciano'.
~ "COME,COME ME CLOSER" is a beutiful text and song from Greeks of Calabria,in south Italy. This minority is struggling since some decades to survive, and keep alive the great cultural heritage that carries along the centuries.

Alla Bua - Pizzicarella


This is the tenth season of NIGHT OF THE TARANTULA, an Italian traditional folk music festival, dedicated to the "PINCH OF THE TARANTULA" (called Pizzica in Italian) a very traditional Salento women dance after they coming in trance for the Pinch of the Tarantula (Salento is located in the region Puglia, South of Italy in the very heel of the Italian boot).

The festival has several appointments (normally in August, summer season) in the "Grecia Salentina" (part of Lecce Salento) every night you can find several folk groups and musicians playing tarantula's music, Lecce and Salento wine and food taste party in cities as Calimera, Martignano, Sternatia, Zollino, Martano, Carpignano Salentino, Castrignano dei Greci, Cursi, Otranto, Andrano, Alessano, Cutrofiano, Corigliano di Otranto, Soleto and the most important event at Melpignano with more than hundred thousand guys dancing Pizzica.

Andra mou paei - My man gone
The cry of the Greek immigrant woman - Traditional Griko song

For sure the Notte della taranta is already one of the best Music and Fun Appointments in Europe, so you will have a lot of fun following all the concerts enjoying great Italian wine, great summer beaches, good food staff and a lot of party by night everywhere.


  1. Map: Greek Sicily, Colonies and Native Towns
  2. Akragas (Agrigento): Precinct of Demeter
  3. Map: Greek Colonies in Southern Italy and Sicily (Magna Graecia)
  4. Segesta: Unfinished Doric Temple (mid-5th cent.BC)
  5. Segesta Temple, Closer View
  6. Segesta Temple, Aerial View
  7. Theater at Segesta, Sicily
  8. Akragas (Agrigento): Aerial View
  9. Akragas (Agrigento): Doric Temple of Concordia
  10. Concordia Temple at Akragas: View of Architrave
  11. Akragas (Agrigento): Temple of the Dioskouroi
  12. Akragas (Agrigento), Sicily: Fallen Colossal Statue
  13. Italian Red-Figure Vase Painting (Niobid Painter): Herakles in Usual Attire (club and lionskin)
  14. Red-Figure Vase: Herakles Killing the Cannibal Priest Busiris
  15. Sicilian Temple Decoration: Herakles Captures the Cecropids

Άσχετο - Ιrrelevant Video

click to enlarge

Map of Greek Coins From Magna Graecia

click to enlarge


  1. http://www.grikamilume.com
  2. http://www.geocities.com/enosi_griko/Ta_Grika2.html
  3. http://www.geocities.com/enosi_griko
  4. http://www.greciasalentina.org
  5. http://www.salentogriko.info
  6. http://www.greciacalabra.net
  7. http://www.cdroots.com/rd-nist.html
  8. http://www.comune.calimera.le.it
  9. http://www.castrignanodeigreci.it
  10. http://www.travel.it/archaeol/ellen/ellen.htm
  11. http://www.magnagrecia.gr/?section=8

Bilateral Relations between Greece and Italy:

I. Diplomatic Relations

Greece established diplomatic relations with Italy in 1861, immediately upon the latter's unification, and maintains an Embassy and a Consulate in Rome, and General Consulates in Milan and Naples, a Consulate in Venice, Honorary Consulates in Trieste (General), Turin (General), Ancona, Catania, Livorno, Bari, Bologna, Brindisi, Florence, Palermo, Perugia, and a Port Consulate in Genova. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also responsible for the Venice Hellenic Institute.

II. Framework of Treaties

The most important bilateral agreements are as follows:
- Cultural Agreement (1954)
- Economic Cooperation Agreement (1949)
- Cooperation towards the protection of the Ionian Sea marine environment (1979)
- Cooperation against terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking (1986)
- Agreement on the demarcation of continental shelf boundaries (1977)
- Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation (1964)

III. Political relations

After World War II, the two countries forged close relations as members of NATO and the E.U. Nowadays there is close bilateral cooperation between Greece and Italy on matters of security, combating terrorism, and border protection. There is also regular ministerial contact between the two, particularly in the context of their European obligations in Brussels.
Regarding official visits between the two countries, an official visit was made to Italy by the then President of the Hellenic Republic, K. Stephanopoulos (January 2001) and a return visit by the President of the Italian Republic, C.A.Ciampi to Greece (July 2003).
Visit of the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Karolos Papoulias (24-28 January, 2006).

IV. Economic and Trade relations

Italy has traditionally been Greeces second most important trading partner after Germany, absorbing 9.6% of Greek exports and representing 12.7% of Greeces total imports. Greek Italian trade (amounting to a total of some 7billion euros) represents 12.3% of Greeces total foreign trade. The trade balance shows a deficit for Greece (-4.1billion euros). Greeces imports from Italy mainly include industrial products, such as machinery, motor vehicles, and clothing, whilst her exports include basic agricultural produce such as olive oil, olives, and fish.
Italian investments account for some 6.6% of foreign capital invested in Greece, amounting to 500m euros annually, and still growing. Investment initiatives to be flagged up involve TELECOM, WIND (TELLAS, in collaboration with the Greek Public Power Corporation-PPC), ITALGAS, ENEL (in collaboration with the PPC, for the submarine energy link between the two countries).
Greek investment interest has been increasing recently, with investments in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and shipping industries.
In the tourist sector, it is estimated that some 800 thousand Italian tourists visit Greece each year, of whom 90% visit in July and August. The majority of them head for the Ionian Islands and the Peloponnese.

V. Cultural relations

There are numerous Greek-themed cultural activities throughout Italy.
They include art shows, film retrospectives, and Ancient Greek drama productions. The decisive influence of Greek Literature on Italian culture is generally acknowledged by Italian intellectuals.
As the only Greek research foundation established abroad, the Venice Hellenic Institute is chiefly concerned with the study of Byzantine and post-Byzantine history in Italy, and particularly that of Venice and the Greek territories under Venetian rule. It operates at the seat of the Greek Orthodox Fraternity of Venice, which has ceded it to the Greek Government.

VI. The Greek Community

The Greek diaspora consists of some 40,000 - 50,000 people, most of whom are to be found in Central Italy. There has also been an age old presence of Italian nationals of Greek descent, who speak the Greco dialect peculiar to the Magna Graecia region. This dialect can be traced historically to the era of Byzantine rule, but even as far back as classical antiquity.

Nikos Deja Vu

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