Ciociaria (Italian pronunciation: [tʃotʃaˈɾiːa]) is the name of a traditional region of Central Italy without a defined border nor historical identity. The name was adopted by a fascist movement of Frosinone as an ethnical denomination for the province of Frosinone, when it was created in 1927. In the Middle Ages, this region was referred to as Campagna. The local dialect, now known as ciociaro, was earlier referred to as campanino. In more recent times, the term Campagna Romana, or Roman Campagna, a favorite subject of countless painters from all over Europe, has referred to the adjoining region to the north of Ciociaria, but part of the Province of Rome.
Origin of the name
For the first time the term appears in a map of Papal States, in which a land in Campagna e Marittima province is named Ciocciarìa. On the other hand many others sources attest another variant, that was in use since 18th century: Ciocerìa.
The name Ciociaria comes from the primitive footwear of its inhabitants called "ciocie". These "sandals" were put on by the Latins, that will be identified with the appellative of Ciociari in the following centuries, hence "Ciociaria"; now that kind of shoes are not used in everyday life, but remain as a traditional symbol. They are worn by folk groups members of the province of Frosinone or on the historical feasts.
The ciocia is an ancient kind of shoe, with a simple and primitive form, that doesn't wrap completely the foot, because the upper part is open. The foot is anchored to the ciocia by an interlacement of leather laces, inserted in special side holes; so the foot sticks to this special "sandal", making it sure and comfortable. The origins of this particular kind of shoe are ancient. A similar shoe was already present among the Etruscans, the Hernici, primitive inhabitants (probably came from the Middle East, descendants from the people of Hatti or from the Illyrians) of this area, and between the mountainous regions of the Yugoslavia and Greece. In fact, the ciocie are the result of different transformations. The first historical quotations is in Virgil, in book VII of the Aeneid, where he describes some warriors coming from the Monti Ernici and the Aniene valley, that wore "a rough to put on of rough leather."
Folklore and traditions
Ciociaria has a full calendar of food fairs, entertainment events and music festivals, as well as a variety of traditional feasts. Religious, country and rural traditions are still strong and alive. The celebrations of the patron saints with the processions, the performance of bands, singers and groups, the illuminations and fireworks, the fairs and popular games, the palios and tournaments among the town’s quarters witness the desire of the Ciociarian people to preserve the authenticity of their peasant culture with their typical costumes, music, rites and gastronomy.
The Ciociarian folklore has been made known not only at home and in the rest of Italy, but also abroad. Ciociarian folk groups have also taken part in important events held outside the territory. These events hosted by folk groups of other countries give the opportunity to increase friendship and understanding among the peoples of the world, as well as being an opportunity for the Ciociarian emigrants who are scattered all over the world to strengthen the ties with their homeland. During popular events people wear traditional costumes with the typical footwear, the ‘cioce’, which gave the name to this region “Ciociaria”. Part of the Ciociarian folklore are the songs, both sacred and profane, dances such as the saltarello, accompanied by music and cheered by the dishes of local cuisine.
The Symbol of Ciociara is a copper amphora called "Conca", used in the old times by our ancestors, to carry water from the fountains, when there was no running water inside houses; such containers are still made today by the artisans of the area. Wicker and “vinchio” (marshy grass that grows on the slopes of the Aurunci Mounts) are woven in the shape of baskets, hampers, bags and cheese or fish containers. Terracottas are even more antique and rustic and therefore more fascinating: from water amphorae, the so-called “cannate”, decorated with red soil as well as pottery articles decorated and enamelled (like little bells and crib statuettes) made in Arpino, to terracotta jugs made in Aquino and Fiuggi. Jewelry also plays an important role in this land.
Gold and coral jewellery have always been worn by the famous “balie ciociare” (Ciociarian wetnurses). The main producing towns are Alatri, Anagni, Fiuggi, Veroli. Works in copper and wrought iron can be found in Ferentino, Serrone and Frosinone; in Veroli there is an “Exhibition of Wrought-Iron” held every two years. The travertine of Anagni is extracted from local quarries. There are embroideries, wonderful and delicate feminine works, like the embroidered towels and tablecloths of Veroli and Boville Ernica and the holy vestments of Anagni, “the Town of Popes”.
Rapes after the battle of Monte Cassino
The day following the Battle of Monte Cassino, Goumiers rampaged through the surrounding countryside committing mass rape in Ciociaria. Victims of such crimes became known in Italy as marocchinate, literally translatable as "Moroccaned". Alberto Moravia wrote a novel on the event (La ciociara), which was made into a successful movie directed by Vittorio de Sica.
- Roberto Almagià, Enciclopedia italiana, vol. X, Roma 1931
- Alonzi L., Il concetto di Ciociaria dalla costutuzione della provincia di Frosinone a oggi («L'Italia ritagliata. L'identità storico-culturale delle regioni: il caso del Lazio meridionale ed orientale», Società Geografica Italiana, Roma 1997)
- Beranger E. M. & Sigismondi F., Il ducato di Alvito nell'Età dei Gallio (Atti), Banca della Ciociaria, Alvito 1997, p. 37
- Scotoni L., Un nome territoriale recente: la Ciociaria (Lazio), in La geografia delle scuole, XXII (1977), n. 4., pp. 199-207
Media related to Ciociaria at Wikimedia Commons
- CiociariaTurismo, official turist site of Ciociaria