“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.

Flavors of Calabria



When you taste for the very first time Calabrian Cuisine, you find a bountiful range of flavors.

Inside this geographical location you can feel a weather always getting warmer, days longer and your mind finding rest and peace.

The sea is vibrant, the land is rich in history, culture, and agriculture, even if it is non-touristy, the seafood is great, particularly swordfish, cod and sardines. Further, Calabria owns a great selection of cheeses made with both cow and sheep’s milk, for example pecorino Calabrese, which is made from sheep’s milk, can be eaten semi-soft and un-aged. Or you can taste “Provola”, a cheese mild, very similar to a hardened mozzarella.

Another great product is local “pancetta”. Together with many varieties of salumi—like Capicola Calabrese and Sopressata di Calabria—”pancetta” makes perfect local breads and cheeses, also accompanying Calabrian wines.

Further, Calabrian pastas are varied, for example “ricci di donna” (or “curls of the lady”) and capieddi ‘e prieviti (or “hairs of the priest”). Also “Fileya”, “Fusilli” scilateddri, lagane, cavateddri and maccheroni are very common

Breads and cheeses are a fruit of Greek and Arabic influences, for example “Pane del pescatore” (“fisherman’s bread”), which is a local specialty enriched by eggs and dried fruits. Focaccia and pitta breads are also popular in the region, directly coming from Greek flavors, together with “Sciungata” (a sheep’s milk cheese similar to ricotta), with “butirro” (a buttery cow’s milk cheese) and the well known caciocavallo silano (a cow’s milk cheese hung to dry, providing its signature teardrop shape).

At the contrary, wine is not produced in huge quantities in the region, but is a fashioning product, given that here the tradition of winemaking  is heavily influenced by Greeks. In fact, Ciró wines are produced by the same ancient varieties of grapes produced in antiquity for local heroes of the Olympic games.


The region is the most southerly toe of Italy, rich of coasts flanked by highlands and rugged mountains.  From north of the Pollino massif, to the plateau of the Sila and the south by the Aspromonte, the geographical shape influences the variance of Calabrian products.

The most varying products are fruits and vegetables, they are also unique, as the famous ‘Red Onion of Tropea’, delicious eaten raw or used for making jams.

The always different panorama of this Southern Italian region influences also the spicy and robust cuisine,  full of ingredients like garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and red-hot chili peppers.

At the same time, only a small waterway separates Calabria from Sicily, so that the cooking methods have been changed by many cultures: Arabic, French, Spanish and Greek. The richness is also historical.

Further, the long coastline produces huge quantities of tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, artichokes, beans, onions, peppers, asparagus, melons, citrus fruits (particularly the arancia calabrese, also known as bergamot, an orange grown only in Calabria), grapes, olives, almonds, figs and mountain-loving herbs grow well in the area.

This abundance of local food enriches many Calabrian dishes, so that many cities have their specific festivals (“sagra”) for each products. For example, Bagnara has a festival celebrating the region’s staple fish, the town of Diamante hosts a peperoncini festival in September, Caria celebrates the simple Sajuca bean in August. In July, Tropea celebrates red onions.


Given that the cuisine is pastoral-inspired, the region owns an ancient identity, expressed with aromas and colors belonging to the meadows and the refuges inside the mountains.

We will mention a few of more representative foods of this tradition.

Capocollo di Calabria Dop

This salami is subject to a drying period, then, capocollo is smoked for a few days, receiving a delicate flavor transformation. It becomes ready to eat after 4 months. It is obtained from the neck muscles of the pig, is DOP marked and  brushed with vinegar, while the non DOP products will be brushed with wine.

Cedro di Diamante

This fruit is often candied and used in sweet preparations, at Christmas time in many areas along the coast.  It is very common on the Tyrrhenian shores in the area between Tortora and Cetraro (Cosenza province, especially in the territory of Diamante),  its pulp is intensely aromatic, sweet and acidic, while the plant is very delicate with a peak maturation between October and December.

Red onion of Tropea

This onion is full of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium and iodine. Therefore it gives many health benefits.  It is made into preserves and jams that can be paired to cheeses and meats, it becomes also a delicious gelato. Grown in the area of Nicotera (Vibo Valentia) and Campora San Giovanni, in the Amantea municipality (Cosenza) and along the medium-high Tyrrhenian coas, this onion has a unique color comings from elevated quantities of polyphenolic compounds.

“Limone di Rocca Imperiale”

It is a lemon, also known as “limone rifiorente”. It  grows in the town of Rocca Imperiale, in the territory of Cosenza. The lemon, of the variety “femminiello”  has a juicy pulp, intensely rich of scents. It is used for sweets preparation, cakes and jams or honey.

Licorice of Calabria DOP

In Rossano there is a very special licorice, extract of a perennial herbaceous plant that can grow 3 feet tall. It has digestive and detoxifying effects, is mostly used in confectionary to make cakes, candy and gelato. In Calabria, in particular in Rossano Calabro, is the only Italian museum dedicated to licorice, with displays of tools and machinery used over the ages to describe its history.


It is a cheese of Greek-Albanian origins, it is spreadable and ivory colored, mostly  used as appetizer, added to salads, served along with vegetable side dishes.

Potato of Sila IGP

Potatoes from Sila are cultivated above 1000 meters, are knows the following varieties: Agria, Désirée, Ditta, Majestic, Marabel, Nicola. Delicious and nutritious, these potatoes owe their flavor to the high altitude plateaus where they grow.


It is a cheese, also called manteca, piticelle or burrino, coming from the uplands of the Sila and the areas of Pollino, using cow’s milk. This cheese was however conceived to conserve a precious product like butter long before refrigeration. The rind is thin and shiny, and conceals a core of cream colored butter which becomes yellower with aging. It can be eaten as is as an appetizer, or used as seasoning in pasta dishes.