|Comune di Amato|
|• Total||20.91 km2 (8.07 sq mi)|
|Elevation||480 m (1,570 ft)|
|• Density||42/km2 (110/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Francis of Paola|
|Saint day||2 April|
Amato is one of the oldest towns in Calabria. It is mentioned by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who calls it "Portus Amati Fluminis" (harbour of the Amato River). It is also mentioned by the Roman Pliny the Elder in one of his books. He calls it "Sinus Lametinus" (Lametino Harbour).
It appears that the people of Amato originated from the ancient city of Lametia, on the promontory of the Gulf of Sant'Eufemia, near the mouth of the Amato River. It was one of the most thriving cities of old Calabria, which at that time was called Bruttium.
From an English publication entitled "Brief History of Amato", we learn that Amato existed many years before the foundation of Rome. From this book we also learn that at that time Amato was very industrious and had a population of about 20,000 people. Its economy was centered around the very important textile industry, with about 1300 looms at work. In fact even up to a few years ago many Amatese women had a loom and many of them were very capable weavers. Production of the silkworm was also a very popular activity.
That primeval but progressive town was destroyed by floods and everything was buried underneath a swampy cover. Many of its inhabitants perished, others relocated to other cities like Sant'Eufemia, Nicastro, Sambiase, Bella, etc. Few families relocated to the hills of the plateau of the Amato River where they built a new town, but kept the same name.
These people settled on the hills of: Piano di Amato, Lachi, Cutro, Amendola and Andressi. This entire area was later called UMBRI and even today it is known by the same name. UMBRI in Latin means "saved from the floods". And it was here that these people built the new Amato. Remains of two old churches San 'Nicola and Sant' Andrea and of a castle nearby are proof of the existence of Amato at this location. Also, during some excavation work a golden cross and golden chalice were found. Later on, two workers PIETRO PINGITORE and FRANCESCO ROMEO (both presently residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) found in this same area some very old coins. Unfortunately all these were misplaced by the public authority before experts had an opportunity to study them.
The inhabitants of this new town, alas, did not have an easy time at this new location. In fact they were afflicted with malaria, they were constantly attacked by pirates and bandits and inundated by floods. They did not give up. They just moved to higher grounds at the present location of AMATO. AMATO is located to the north of the Cantanzaro Isthmus at an altitude of 480 metres above sea level, between the gulfs of Sant'Eufemia and Squillace. This new town appears to have been built during the Middle Ages when the Normans came to the Amato Plains. In fact, thanks to the Normans the Amato Plains were fortified against pirate attacks. They built castles at Nicastro, Maida, Feroleto and one also at Amato still in existence today.
First inhabitants (1000–800 B.C.)
The Italias were the first established people of Calabria. Later came the BRETTI from Lucania. These occupied Calabria and called it BRUZIO. The Bruzi were very advanced culturally. They dedicated themselves to agriculture and to the raising of domestic animals. Later they started handicrafts and industries; promoted commerce and developed the exchange of their products with nearby people.
Greeks (800–300 B.C.)
Between the 8th and 7th century B.C. the Greeks occupied the shores of Calabria. Their first colonies soon became very wealthy and thriving by limiting their activities to the exchange of manufactured goods for agricultural products. Later they occupied all of southern Italy and monopolized the entire commerce of the region. Thanks to the Greeks, Calabria became a very industrious and productive region. It was part of "MAGNA GRECIA".
During the war between the Romans and Pyrrhus, the Bruzi fought beside the army of Taranto against the Romans. The Romans defeated Pyrrhus, occupied Taranto and all other cities of Calabria, including Amato. During the second Punic war, Calabria was occupied by Hannibal and the Bruzi once again fought against the Romans. Hannibal was defeated and Calabria was Roman again. Rome imposed some very harsh penalties to the inhabitants of Calabria and many cities were burned down and destroyed. Was it then that Amato was destroyed? No one knows. The contributions of Amato during the Punic wars are not known. We do however know that Amato at that time was located at a very strategic location in the Gulf of Sant'Eufemia and therefore could have played a very important role.
Barbarians, Bizantini, Saraceni and Normans
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy, no longer guarded by the Roman Legions, was invaded by the Barbarians. The Visigoths attacked and occupied Rome and later moved towards Sicily. After the Visigoths we have the Heruli, the Ostrogoths and the Bizantini. In 827 southern Italy was invaded by the terrible Saracens who burned down and destroyed everything that opposed them. They used to attack the coast of Calabria, steal children, and sell them as slaves.
After the accord of Melfi, Pope Niccolo II gave to the Normans the government of Calabria and Puglia. The Normans were very democratic and enterprising. We owe to them the creation of the Abbey of Sant' Eufemia Lamezia, the construction of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Dipodi, the fortification of the Amato Plains and the introduction of the sugar cane. Under Norman rule the Amato Plains enjoyed peace and prosperity. Under their rule Pope Callistro II personally visited all the towns of the Amato Plains. During this visit he inaugurated the Sanctuary of Dipodi, consecrated the Cathedral of Nicastro, the Church of Mileto and then he went to Catanzaro to consecrate the Church Maggiore.
After the Normans - Feudalism
From the 1st half of the 1400, the history of Amato begins to be better documented. At that time the territory of Amato was given to the feudatory Francesco Rodio of Catanzaro by Alfonso I, King of Naples. Then it was transferred to Prince Marcantonio of Loffredo. In 1635 it was given to Donato A. Mottola by the King of Spain. Donato A. Mottola was given the title of "MARQUIS of Amato". After his death the territory Amatese was inherited by his son ORAZIO MOTTOLA who was also Baron of Joppolo, Coccorino and Monterosso. In 1675 the territory of Amato ceased to belong to the Mottola family and was subdivided into small holdings. The entire area was first called The University of Amato and later Commune of Amato. With the subdivision of the territory, every resident of Amato became a private landowner. Vast territories were granted to the wealthiest families: Anania, Caligiuri, Can- tafio, Cianflone, Cosentino, D'Amico, Falvo, Fiorentino, Grande, Graziano, Jenzi, Lo Scerbo, Lo Schiavo, Mauro, Mazza, Mottola, Pallone, Papucci, Rossi, Todaro, Torchia. The Commune of Amato kept for itself the forestland. This was however contested by the Mottola family. This dispute was later resolved by the King Commissioner Angelo Masci. Under his ordinance the commune of Amato was granted two thirds of its claim, more specifically: Montagna Soprana and Montagna Sottana. The other one third was given to the Mottola family. The commune also received one half of the territory known as "Mugamero" with the other half remaining to the Mottolas.
With the subdivision of the Amato territory, many residents became small landowners. However many were unable to survive from these little farms and soon they sold their possessions to other landowners thus contributing to the consolidation of large territories under the ownership of few families. But by the 19th century the cycle reversed again. The family units began to disintegrate and larger farms became smaller units once again because of subdivisions amongst heirs.
The lands that the richer landowners did not cultivate themselves, when not needed for pasture, were given to share-croppers. These were responsible for the farming of the land and in return would keep 3/4 or 2/3 of the net production, depending on the crop. They were allowed to keep a pig, a goat, some sheep and chickens on the land to help them provide for their families. This procedure, good up to 1900, was improved by Dr. Giuseppe Caligiuri who in order to induce his share-croppers to cultivate more land put at their disposal a plough pulled by two oxen.
Dr. Caligiuri's initiative was not well received by the other "padroni". They believed that this new approach to farming would benefit more the share-cropper than it would benefit them. Instead of supporting this brilliant initiative, the other landowners closed themselves into a mean conservatism not well received by the sharecroppers.
Share-croppers were soon prohibited to raise their own animals even though located far away from the land of the "padrone". People had not been subject to these measures and such working conditions not even during feudalism. To make things worse, this happened at a time when farmers were anticipating greater assistance to increase productivity through modern farming machinery, selected seeds and fertilizers. Loss of freedom and the inability of the share-croppers to provide for their families induced them to one by one abandon the lands that they and their fathers before them had farmed for years and were deeply attached to. They left their lands; they left Amato and immigrated into more industrialized nations in search of a future for their children.
San Francesco di Paola
Saint Francesco of Paola is the patron saint of Amato. In the central square of Amato stands a statue of the patron saint that protects the commune. It was erected thanks to Father Serafino Falvo and is the work of sculptor Ruggero Pergola of Pietrasanta, Lucca. It was inaugurated on May 28, 1966 with the participation of various religious and political figures and the Amatese citizenship.
The male to female ratio in the population of 874 is 404:470.
- Fratellanza Amatese Winnipeg 1986. Mario.P.Falvo