Chocolate Figs, the tradition to donate them


Dried figs filled with chocolate in Calabria are donated to relatives and friends, or however tasted during the Christmas holidays, because they can be kept for months, if stored in tin boxes and covered – once dried – with sheets of baking paper.

Dried figs filled with chocolate are a must of the Calabrian Christmas gastronomy, a gift of Mediterranean civilization to South of Italy, to Italy and to the world (they are very appreciated in London, for example).

It is a healthy and delicious sweet to eat in just one mouthful. They can be covered either with dark chocolate or with white chocolate, depending on personal taste. For the filling it can be used both almonds and walnut kernels.

The traditional preparation period for this typical Calabrese dessert is September, a period of abundant figs. In this way, a delicious idea was devised to preserve and enjoy them throughout the year, even in the coldest months.

Furthermore, born as poors food, today it has become an elite product!

Figs as gift


The figs are cut in half, leaving them united in the narrowest part, that of the petiole. Hence the name crocette, that is the cross-shaped name they take after the filling and pressing. Figs are dried in the sun on special reeds.

A selection therefore takes place because the figs destined for the preparation must all be of the same size. After the selection the figs are stuffed according to tradition with a preparation of sugar and cinnamon, with the addition of walnuts or almonds and orange and lemon peel. They are then pressed manually so that the two open parts of the fig are perfectly matched.

Once the figs are stuffed they are baked and cooked at 200 °C, then the product is sterilized. Immediately after cooking, they are cooled in special rooms and then packaged. The dried fig crosses are packaged with three different preparations:

  • the first involves the use of almonds for the filling of figs,
  • the second the use of walnuts and
  • the third instead involves covering the product with dark chocolate.


Skewers of dried figs (“schiocche”)

The Schiocche are skewers and are made from dried figs baked in the oven, then skewered on two sticks alternating the fruits on the right and left so as to make a sort of pigtail.

“Schiocche” as collars of Figs

Figs stuffed with Walnuts

They are dried figs stuffed with walnut cooked in the oven, then skewered in sticks alternating the fruits on the right and left. This combination of dried figs and walnuts is excellent in terms of nutrition. In addition to the excellent energy and nutrient supply, thanks to the omega 3 contained in the nuts, the intake of this food product helps to reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and also thanks to the fiber content there is a better control of blood sugar levels.

Figs stuffed with Walnuts

Crocette“, Crosses of figs with Nuts

The largest pieces of figs are used for figs stuffed with dried fruit, spices and citrus fruits. In the Calabrian tradition we find the crosses, prepared with four figs. The fruit is opened in half leaving the part of the petiole joined, it is usually filled with walnuts, carnation, cinnamon and citrus peel, orange or lemon. Open figs are placed in a cross shape, two below and two above.

Stuffed Figs: Almond Crocette

The fruit is opened in half leaving the part of the petiole joined, it is usually filled with almonds, carnation, cinnamon and citrus peel, orange or lemon. Open figs are placed in a cross shape, two below and two above Figs, even if you think they have many calories, it is a fruit that can be consumed by adults and children, it has no dyes or preservatives, it has digestive properties. The Calabrian crosses can be consumed instead of a snack.

Stuffed Dried figs, covered with Chocolate

The chocolate-covered figs are real pleasures of gluttony. Serve as a dessert, they cannot be missing from the Calabrian table where figs are an ancient and traditional food. Figs can be processed in many different ways.

The figs are first cut in half and then filled with a filling:

  • of hazelnuts,
  • cocoa,
  • aromas including carnation, cinnamon and citrus fruit peel.

Everything is mixed with the cooked wine which gives it a unique and particular taste. Finally they are covered in chocolate and packed in 250g boxes.

Crosses of Figs

Variously stuffed Figs

In the Calabrian tradition we also find the flavored figs, prepared with the fruit that is opened in half leaving the part of the petiole joined, it is usually stuffed and flavored with:

  • nuts,
  • carnation,
  • cinnamon
  • citrus peel (orange or lemon).

Almond flavored figs

In the Calabrian tradition we also find the flavored figs, prepared with the fruit that is opened in half leaving the part of the petiole joined, it is usually stuffed and flavored with:

  • almonds,
  • carnation,
  • cinnamon,
  • citrus peel (orange or lemon).
Variously stuffed

Figs stuffed with Almonds

They are dried figs stuffed with almonds cooked in the oven, then skewered in sticks alternating the fruits on the right and left. This combination of dried figs and almonds is excellent in terms of nutrition. In addition to the excellent supply of energy and nutrients, thanks to the omega 3 contained in the almonds, the intake of this food product contributes to reducing the bad LDL cholesterol and also thanks to the fiber content there is a mile control of blood sugar levels.


Li Ficu siccati” (the dried figs) are one of the most famous sweets in Calabria.

Introduced at the time of Magna Graecia, fig cultivation has been documented in the province of Cosenza since the 1500s. The Figs of Cosenza Dop are a fascinating and historically significant production in Calabria. The denomination “Fichi di Cosenza“, as stated in the production disciplinary, refers exclusively to the dried fruits of domestic fig “Ficus carica sativa” (domestic L.), belonging to the “Dottato” variety. In the Cosentino area, and especially in the Valle del Crati, the Dottati varieties have found an ideal habitat, in a moderately ventilated hilly environment, not arid but not too rainy.

Fico di Cosenza” (Ficus carica sativa )

For the rest, the great Mediterranean culture and civilization has given to Calabria and the world an ancient plant: the fig has evidence of its cultivation dating back to the first agricultural civilizations of Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt, from which it subsequently spread throughout the basin of the Mediterranean Sea.

If by definition it is called “Fico Mediterraneo“, it is also considered historically a native and common of the Caucasian regions, and of the Black Sea. In Italy the Fico existed before the foundation of Rome (it is in the shadow of this plant that Romulus would have been suckled and Oar).

Despite its ancient and noble origins, fig is now considered a “minor fruit”, as it is classified in modern fruit-growing treaties. After having played a leading role, today it has remained more tied to the memory than to the reality of Mediterranean agricultural productions such as the olive tree and the vine.

The fig tree arrived in Calabria in an uncertain period, probably at the time of the Greco-Roman civilization by the Phoenician travelers who used it as barter goods or who, in the dry version, used it as a reserve of calories for the labors of the crew. From then on its cultivation quickly took hold, particularly in the province of Cosenza, thanks to an ideal pedoclimatic situation.


The peculiarities of the “fico di Cosenza” have been recognized in 2010 with the quality label “DOP” (In Italian: “Denomination of Protected Origin”). The typicality is related to the Valle del Crati (CS), where a hilly environment with a temperate climate has created the right conditions for optimal vegetation.

The Fichi di Cosenza PDO are of an elongated drop shape, sometimes slightly flattened at the apex. The peduncle is always present, short and thin. They are fruits with a very sweet taste of small size, with elastic skin, soft pulp and very small seeds. They are marketed after being dried in the sun on “cannizzi” (reeds) or wooden boards or even in the oven. With the typical golden color, dried figs have a higher yield than other varieties and are full, fleshy, mellow, soft, plastic, very white, highly sugary and easy to preserve.

The production, processing and packaging area of Fichi di Cosenza PDO includes several municipalities considered in their entirety or only in part of the province of Cosenza, located between the mountainous area of Pollino and the Sila Plateau, in the Calabria region.

Crosses of Figs stuffed with Almond

Drying and processing of dried figs in Cosenza is a tradition, handed down from father to son in the south: the heat is used to eliminate the humidity inside the fruit and to obtain a product that can be conserved for the rest of the year.

Traditional fig dishes are present in festivals and fairs in the province. In particular that of St. Joseph, which is celebrated in Cosenza at least from the mid-nineteenth century.

In the kitchen, at the beginning or end of the meal, the Fico di Cosenza PDO is the protagonist of many traditional productions: montagnoli, crocette, nocchette, stuffed figs, baked figs, balls, braids, corollas, salami and fig honey. These figs are an indispensable ingredient for preparing a classic dessert for the holidays, the “pitta ‘mpigliata” or “pitta’ nchiusa“.


The benefits of figs are many:

  • Excellent for reducing symptoms of fatigue because it is a highly energetic and complete food with all the nutrients
  • Rich in mineral salts and Vitamin C and A
  • Easily digestible
  • Thanks to the presence of the fibers they help the normal intestinal functions.

Palizzi, the Mediterranean sea and the Wine


Palizzi, the City of Wine“, says the sign placed at the entrance of the town, which identifies a history and a territory, which tells the story of this place with an excellent product, the fruit of splendid vineyards overlooking the Ionian sea, Sicily and the Volcano Etna on the horizon (a magnificent part of Mediterranean sea),  and that give high quality grapes.

Palizzi Superiore Castle

The town, located in the heart of the Greek area is characterized by a strong wine vocation, in fact the whole route, which connects Palizzi Marina to Palizzi Superiore, to reach Pietrapennata, the highest area among the villages that make up the country, is characterized by from the finest vineyards that make up the Grecanic area.

Palizzi Marina

The historical importance of this wine dates back to the last part of the nineteenth century, in the period in which the tariff war between Italy and France caused the loss of French customers, who with their ships arrived in Porto Palizzi to load the must which they used in production of the their wines. Indeed, our French neighbors had sensed that the selected vines gave remarkable reds.

Pietrapennata: S. Mary Church

Among the red berries that came to find, there were: the “Bagnarota palizzitana” and the “Forestera” both with elegant clusters tending to blue, the “Lacrima nera“, the “Nerello guarnaccia” and the Ligante palizzitano; there was no lack of whites, such as: the “Mantonico“, the “Occhjiu i lepru“, the “Malvasia dall’acino” from the thick skin, “the Inzolia Tunda“, the “Zibbibbo“, the “Moscatello” and the “Nigrazza” which was one of the most important black grapes among so called “Nerelli“.

Bagnarota Palizzana Grape

These wineyards, now at risk of genetic erosion, gave strength and fragrance to the red wine of Palizzi and produced medium-small bunches with berries covered with bloom, a substance found on the berries, and which prevented the sun from dehydrating the grapes despite the hot summer days characterized the area.


In the 50s of the last century, mass emigration depopulated the territory, the fields were abandoned and the vineyards disappeared. A “character”, still alive, Baron Harimberg, a German officer who took refuge in Palizzi and married little Baroness De Blasio, during the retreat of the Nazi troops after the Americans landed in Sicily, continued the wine production.

Thanks to them, currently, in addition to Nerelli and Inzolia, international and national grape varieties are planted such as Nero d’Avola or Calabrese.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the vine-dressers were not able to fight powdery mildew, a fungus with a disastrous impact that attacked all the wine production. This is why the Sicilians arrived and with their expertise intervened with the use of sulfur against the fearsome disease, which had attacked the vineyards, obtaining half of the product for this. It was during these campaigns that the Sicilians identified Palizzi as a vine of excellence that they brought to Sicily …

The territory in which it is produced and history, let us understand clearly the strength of this wine, due to the victories it has achieved over time; and still today its flavor can be tasted while savoring a wild boar dish with onions and leek or a goat ragu, or game with red fruit sauce, typical dishes of Calabrian territory.

Palizzi, City of Wine


Palizzi is a wine protected with Typical Geographical Indication (IGT), whose production is allowed in the province of Reggio Calabria.

Organoleptic characteristics:

Color: intense red tending to garnet.

Smell: the bouquet is vinous, with an important and enveloping structure.

Taste: dry and austere.

Background: The aristocrat Palizzi was born from the lower Ionian coast in the Greek speaking area in the province of Reggio Calabria, at an altitude of about 250 m a.s.l., and from a clay soil structure. It is one of the most renowned red wines of Calabrian viticulture. Harvest in the second decade of September; after crushing, the grapes ferment in steel tanks for 48/60 hours, then they are pressed and the must placed in steel tanks at a controlled temperature, where it will remain until the first racking in November. Two more decantings follow and after a stay of about two months in chestnut wood barrels, it should be bottled about 18 months after harvest to refine three months before the sale. The alcohol content is 14 °.

Recommended pairings: Ideal to accompany dishes of red meat and game, particularly wild boar, but can also water grilled tuna.


The delicious wine of the Grecanic area has made known the town of Palizzi with the name “Palizzi, city of wine”, a sign that welcomes tourists at the entrance of the town.

The village of Palizzi

This recognition was assigned to the country, thanks to the important value of the wine, which in 1995 was classified among the 10 IGT, typical geographical indications, more renowned in the Calabria region.

The production area includes the municipalities of Palizzi, Bova, Bova Marina, Brancaleone, Condofuri and Staiti in the province of Reggio Calabria. The highest altitudes at which grapes are harvested, thanks to the quality of the soil are Pietrapennata and Palizzi Superiore.

The Palizzi vineyards are not numerous but are selected from those of the best quality and most productive. For wines with a typical geographical indication “Palizzi”, the maximum production of grapes per hectare of vineyard, in specialized cultivation, must not exceed 11 tons / hectare. Palizzese wines destined for export are mainly Nerello di Palizzi, Castiglione and La Negrazza.

Nerello Grape of Palizzi

Wine making is a fairly demanding and long operation.

The period suitable for harvesting is the second decade of September when the grapes are pressed.

For 48 hours, the grapes ferment inside steel tanks and then are pressed and transformed into must. The product will be left in a steel tank until November when the decanting will take place. At the end of the process the new wine is left to rest for two months in chestnut wood barrels and it is bottled only 18 months after the beginning of the harvest.

According to some studies at the end of fermentation, the right alcohol content that the wine must reach is 14 degrees. To be precise, the main wines produced in the Palizzese area are the “red wine”, the “red wine novello” and the “rosé wine”.

Palizzi Porto, touristic port

The three types of wine are distinguished by three characteristics that determine the consumer’s satisfaction: color, smell and taste.

The “red wine” has a deep red color; the smell is complex, fruity; the taste is harmonious, typical.

The “red wine novello” has a more or less intense red color; the smell is similar to that of red wine; the taste is pleasant.

The “rosé wine” has a more or less intense pink color; the smell is fine, delicate, characteristic; the taste is fresh, harmonious, pleasant.

Staiti Village, near Palizzi


The mountain village of the municipality of Palizzi extends around a huge rock on which there is a castle of the XIII century, unfortunately in ruins, whose presence makes the panorama of this city, inhabited enclave at the foot of the Aspromonte and surrounded by mountains and streams, simply unique…

Palizzi is a unique municipality that includes several hamlets both upstream (around 600 m asl) and the marina: Palizzi Marina, Palizzi superiore, Spropoli and Pietrapennata. Apart from the marina, the other villages do not count more than 200 inhabitants each. The Marina of Palizzi is one of the main beach destinations for the inhabitants of the area and where you can stay overnight in different B & Bs and camping. The coast is more indented than that of the neighboring villages, it is noted for its concave shape, or small bay, which is overlooked by the whole town.

Seaside of Palizzi

Given that the sea is clear and very fishy sea both for shore fishing and for underwater fishing, Palizzi is an ideal place for fans of this discipline are the depths immediately outside the town that are very rocky and poorly frequented.

Apart from a few nice pubs and some good fish restaurants, in the evening the town does not offer many attractions, local vacationers tend to move to the nearby Bova Marina or Brancaleone but there is a real rarity that attracts young people and families from all over shoreline and is the warm bread of Palizzi.

Brancaleone Seaside

This famous warm midnight bread can accompany local cold cuts and cheeses. But even just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh oregano is enough to make that warm bread a unique gastronomic experience. Inevitable will be the famous “Vino di Palizzi“, strong and full-bodied. It will make you sweat on the hottest nights of summer but your neurons, along with the taste buds, will convince you that it will be worth it anyway, even better if your evening will end up on a beach next to a fire and a guitar . The sound of the sea breaking on the shore is the best acoustic accompaniment to dispose of a drink of that wine with historic origins.

Finally, it is over 10 years that it is possible to rediscover the old places and the old forms of wine production. Thanks to various projects aimed at enhancing this local product, Palizzi has become the “city of wine”. Among the summer events it can be noted the Feast of “catoi” (cellars), held in August and during which producers of the hillside hamlet (about 600 m above sea level) open their wine cellars to visitors, giving tastings of their wines.