The origin of the surname Calabrese is a combination of regional
and linguistic geography, originating in Calabria in the southern
most region on the "toe of the boot" of the peninsula of Italia (Italy).
When translated from Italian to English, the word Calabrese means
Calabrian, in reference to the region, the people, and their dialect.
Italian was the official language of Italy since 1861, but Calabria
was made up of different dialects from different language
groups, including the Neapolitan language of northern Calabria
and the Sicilian language of southern Calabria and Sicily.
My ancestors spoke Southern Calabrese, a Sicilian dialect.
See a comparison of The Lord's Prayer in five different
languages or dialects spoken in southern Italy.
Although no conclusion can be drawn, the areas where early Calabrese
families settled were areas of Greek settlements in 750 - 625 B.C.
After the Norman conquest of southern Italy in the 11th Century A.D., the
surname Calabrese was recorded as early as 1490 in Turi, Bari, Puglia.
The Calabrese surname was recorded early in the regions of Calabria,
Campania, Puglia (Apulia), and Sicily.
Some Calabrese families crossed the Stretto di Messina (Strait of Messina)
and settled on the island of Sicily, which lies on the "toe of the boot" of Calabria.
They lived in ancient port towns of Messina, Cefal¨, and Palermo on the northern
coast of Sicilia, bordered on the north by il Mare Tirreno (the Tyrrhenian Sea),
part of il Mare Mediterraneo (the Mediterranean Sea). Others settled in the
fertile towns and villages in the foothills near the base of the volcano, Mount Ătna.
DISASTERS in CALABRIA and SICILY
In 1743 an earthquake was reported in Palermo as well as an outbreak
of contagious sickness in Messina which killed four hundred each day.
These events were followed a decade later by Volcanic eruptions at
Mount Ătna in 1753 and 1755. About thirty years later in 1787, all of the
Volcanoes in Sicily and it's sister islands were erupting. These disasters
had a great impact on the people and may have had an influence on their
migration to the different provinces and coastal towns throughout Sicily.
(See modern day photographs of volcanic eruptions at Mount Etna.)
Disaster struck Calabria and Sicily at dawn on December 28, 1908 when a large
earthquake (7.5 on the modern Richter scale) struck the Strait of Messina, and
was followed shortly after by a major tsunami. The areas most effected were the
east coast of Sicily and the west coast of Calabria. Ninety percent of the buildings
were destroyed in Messina on the north east tip of Sicily and in Reggio di Calabria,
just across the Strait of Messina in Calabria. The combination of the earthquake
and tidal wave killed over 110,000 people according to newspapers at the time in
the United States of America. Read the particulars in the newspaper articles dated
December 31, 1908 in the Stevens Point Daily Journal published in Stevens Point,
My CALABRESE Ancestors
CALABRESE Main Menu
2006 by Diana "Dee" Horney - Gabler
updated March 29, 2006