Just inside the territory of the National Park of Aspromonte
is where one will come across Bova, which
belongs to the Grecanica Area of Calabria,
also known as Bovèsia.
Its roots are Magno-Greek, that is dating back to the period
when Greek colonies arrived in Calabria and founded new cities
(VIII and VII century BC).
However, the territory of Bova was definitely inhabited since
Paleolithic times and for the whole of the Neolithic era,
as demonstrated by Lithica handicrafts uncovered during various
The Ausoni inhabited the hill where Bova is situated for its
strategic position. They were an Italic population which Greek
colonies encountered on arrival along the coasts of Calabria.
Known by its Greek name of Vuna (bovile), the centre could
do no less than enter under the influential sphere of powerful
Bova resisted Roman advancement for a long span of time. It
was only after the end of the Second Punic War (202 BC) that
they gained full sovereignty of the territory of Southern
It became a Municipium during the 1 century BC, acquired Roman
citizenship and was already an Episcopal Seat beginning in
the 1 century AD.
After the end of the Roman Empire it was plundered by the
Goths (410) and the Vandals (440) who landed on the Calabrian
coasts on arrival from Africa and Sicily.
The same fate brought the Saracens, who beginning in the IX
century besieged Bova on numerous occasions.
There was a particularly terrible episode during 953 during
which many citizens were killed whilst others were enslaved
and deported to Africa. A worse fortune happened to the same
besiegers during 1075 when they were unable to storm the fortress.
San Leone was born during this period in Bova (XI century)
and is still very much venerated today in the village.
After Norman (XI century) domination and that of the Swabians
(1194-1266), who had a lay conception of political power,
Bova became a fief of the Angioinians under the Archbishop
of Reggio Calabria who was nominated Count of Bova. His successors
ruled until 1806, year of abolition of feudalism by the hand
of Giuseppe Bonaparte.
During 1577, Bova was hit by the Plague which killed many
inhabitants and led to isolation of the village and subsequent
economic damage for commerce.
During the same century the defensive system of towers was
amplified in order to contrast frequent Turkish incursions
The birth of the Republic of Naples (1799) and the diffusion
of French Republican ideals saw Bova lining up side by side
with the Bourbons and being an active Sanfedista centre, combating
in the flanks of the troops of Cardinal Ruffo.
For this reason, Bova was repaid with besiegement and plunder
by the French during 1807.
After the year 1815, Bova reentered into the Reign of the
Two Sicilies of the Bourbons until the Unification of the
Reign of Italy (1861).
Within the ambit of clashes during the Second World War, Bova
was bombed by the Anglo-Americans causing grave damage (1943).
A visit to the City
The historical centre of Bova guards some architectonic gems,
among which we'd like to point out the S. Maria of Isodia
Cathedral, of Norman origin, built on the spot of a previous
Byzantine church. It hosts a 16th century marble Madonna in
its interior, wooden statues and a canvas from the '700's.
Among the other churches to visit: the S. Leo Sanctuary with
a statue of S. Leo dating back to 1582 and the Santa Caterina
Church with a statue of the Madonna of the Visitation (1590).
The Castle remains are situated in a dominant position overlooking
the village and can be visited, although very few people mention
its very long history. From here, however, one can enjoy an
immense panoramic view. The Parcopia Tower (X century), at
the castle of the same period, was part of the defensive mural
system of Bova.
The 18th century nobiliary buildings, which were constructed
by rich families of the emergent ranks, complete the visit
Walking through the historical centre, one will notice various
roads which preserve names of Greek derivation. In the City,
some of the older generation still speak a Greek-Byzantine
Place of interest
- Cattedrale della Madonna della Presentazione o Isodia (XI
- Chiesa di San Leo (XVIII sec.)
- Chiesa di San Rocco (fine XVI sec.)
- Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Immacolata
- Chiesa dello Spirito Santo (1622)
- Chiesa di Santa Caterina
- Chiesa della Madonna del Carmine (metà XVII sec.)
- Resti del Castello (X secolo)
- Palazzo Nesci di Sant'Agata (XVIII sec.)
- Palazzo Mesiani-Mazzacuva (XVIII sec.)
- Torre Normanna o Parcopia (X secolo)
- Palazzo Romeo
- Palazzo Larizza
- Palazzo Condemi
- Parco Nazionale dell'Aspromonte
- Visita a Casalnuovo
- Visita ad Áfrico
- Museum centre of Palaeontology.
- The Patron Feast of San Leo on 5th May;
- Feast of the Blessed Virgin Maria Assunta-San Leo and San
Rocco on 15th, 16th & 17th August;
- Paleariza Festival.