The Oranges of “San Giuseppe”


Calabrian citrus fruits stand out from the others for their excellent organoleptic characteristics; for these reasons they are well known and highly appreciated not only in Italy but also abroad.

Among the oranges grown in Calabria we certainly remember the late growing orange Biondo di Trebisacce, which flourishes in the vicinity of the homonymous municipality of the Upper Ionian Cosentino between the sea and the Pollino mountains.

In the wake of the latter we also find another cultivar that is born much further south of Trebisacce and that certainly deserves a place of honor.

San Giuseppe Oranges

Let’s talk about the San Giuseppe Orange. Like the Biondo di Trebisacce, the San Giuseppe Orange is also a niche on the market. It is grown at about 350 meters above sea level, in the pre -mountain belt of the Aspromonte between the Gallico and Catona rivers, and takes its name from the hamlet of the municipality of Reggio Calabria, Villa San Giuseppe.

The San Giuseppe Orange, present in the Belladonna and Biondo Tardivo varieties, has been produced for some years by any local companies and, afterwards, included in the Ark of Taste of the Slow Food Foundation for biodiversity.

The plant is of medium vigor and expanded foliage, round in shape, not very dense. The leaves are elliptical, of an intense green color, with a slightly rounded apex. Belonging to the species of orange Citrus sinensis , this orange has an ovoid (or sub-ovoid) shape with a skin of medium thickness and an intense orange color.

San Giuseppe orange trees

It weighs about 200 gr. The taste is sweet (mostly between May and June), its blond pulp is rich in juice and is seedless, or it has very few (usually 1 to three).

It has a good concentration of vitamin C, fiber, mineral salts and for this reason it is recommended to eat it fresh or squeezed; it is used extensively to produce juices, jams, honey and candied peel.

The first fruits begin to have in the months of February-March and, as in the case of the Biondo di Trebisacce, they last until June.

Locally called ‘u purtuallu longu”, according to studies, the first attestations of the San Giuseppe Orange date back to the end of the 19th century.

They were in fact the most sought after on the market due to their large fruits, with few seeds and strong bark; they resisted long browsing in everyone’s preference and always pay 1 or 12 pugs more than those of other sites.

Orange wedges

In fact, the stories of the locals show that the sale of the oranges of San Giuseppe was very profitable and supported the economy of this area.

They are also called ‘oranges of the tsar’ because they were even exported to Russia, beloved by the courts of the tsars and notables until the period of the October Revolution in the early decades of the 20th century.

The San Giuseppe Orange is usually seedless. For the first time in 2019 the ‘Feast of the Orange of San Giuseppe’ took place which was a great success.

The hope is that after the restrictions due to the health emergency from Covid-19, this holiday can be a fixed appointment to pay homage to this important and special Calabrian citrus fruit.

Orange slices

The San Giuseppe Orange has also been included by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies in the list of Agri-food Products of Calabria tradition (PAT).

Another excellence of Calabria to taste…

“Musulupa”: the typical cheese of the Greek area of Reggio Calabria


Musulupa is a typical cheese (fresh and unsalted) produced in the Greek area in the province of Reggio Calabria.

Modeled in traditional molds of carved mulberry wood (the Musulupare), with an anthropomorphic or disc shape and ritually consumed especially during the Easter period.


Bova (Chòra tu Vùa is its name in the Grecanic language) is the cultural capital of Bovesìa (the Greek area in the province of Reggio Calabria).

It is one of the southernmost cities of the Italian peninsula in Aspromonte National Park and included, among other things, in the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Further, the Bovesìa (also known as the Calabrian Greek-speaking area) still retains an immense historical-cultural heritage. Here the Hellenophonic traces are still very strong as a linguistic and cultural presence.

In fact here the culture Hellenophonic from dominant it became subordinate and even today only the elders speak the Ancient Greek dialect of Calabria, while also strong Byzantine-Greek traces are still present both in the uses and in the popular tradition.

The Griko community in Calabria


Musulupa is a typical cheese that is actually widespread not only in Bova but throughout the Greek Calabrian area, also known as Musulucu or Musulupu.

It is fair to observe that the traditional cuisine of the Greek area, although it might seem spartan, mountain, is actually full of exclusive flavors and specialties.

Specialties good to know and good to eat like, for example, Lestopitta (a kind of unleavened bread) or Macaroni (local pasta) with goat sauce.

It is a cuisine of poor at the origins that is still today a great trend in the Greek universe, practiced in the houses and in the typical restaurants of the area…but let’s go back to the Musulupa.

Musulupa cheese and Musulupare (containers)


Musulupa is the typical cheese (fresh and without salt) very similar to tuma generally produced with mixed milk (sheep and goat) modeled in particular molds or shapes, the Musulupare.

The Musulupare, incredible works of popular art handcrafted by the shepherds of the Greek area with carved mulberry wood that reproduce anthropomorphic and disc figures.

They have decorations that refer to very complex geometric elements and in any case of evident Greek stylistic code.

Some historians believe that the Anthropomorphic cheese of Musulupa refers to the image of the Madonna. Others, however, considering the particularly accentuated forms, argue that they are female figures, like the Mother Goddess.

In any case, very ancient themes and elements are evident, to which, only after a long time, those of religiosity have been added Byzantine, like the cross.



As we already know from the mold of Musulupara the typical cheese of the Greek area of Calabria is obtained, the Musulupa.

These forms of typical cheese were and continue to be produced by the shepherds of the Greek Calabrian area to be consumed during the early hours of Easter day.

Usually it is cooked with a rich omelette of eggs and with sausages, all fried together in oil or lard.

Others, on the other hand, recall the ritual consumption of the Musulupa on the day of the Monday of the Angel.

In any case, certainly the most curious and fascinating aspect of the Musulupa is his anthropomorphic form.

Form that, together with the production and ritual consumption during the Easter period, leads to hypothesize a connection with the rite of the Pupazze or Persephone (a procession of great female figures, typical of Bova).

Rite that is celebrated every year in the characteristic village of Bova on Palm Sunday.

Process of Musulupa preparation

The Pupazze or Persephone di Bova are, as said, female anthropomorphic figures made with intertwined olive leaves (“bastoncini” sticks in dialect) applied to the stiddhe, that is supports of wild reeds finally decorated with colored ribbons, lace, branches of mimosa, flowers, fruit and seasonal first fruits such as olives, broad beans, bergamot, mandarins and Musulupe.

The main characteristics in the production of Musulupa , the typical cheese of the Greek area in the province of Reggio Calabria, are the Musulupare (traditional molds of carved mulberry wood) and the seasonal cyclicality with consumption and ritual use during the Easter period.

A typical Calabrese cheese whose shapes refer to ancient cults whose consumption and use is still ritual.