The Peperoncino Festival of Diamante: between art and gastronomy

The peperoncino (chili pepper) of Diamante returns in October. It is one of the most awaited gastronomic events in Calabria. The event takes place in a characteristic town, with graffiti and works of art scattered all around. However, this year this event typically Italian will take place exceptionally in October: so here some background and all the information you may need.

The peperoncino Festival in Calabria: where does it takes place?

Imagine a small folkloristic town by the sea, where you can breath art and culture: the Peperoncino Festival in Calabriaw takes place in Diamante, a village that dates back to the XVII century, renovated thanks to the idea of painter Nani Razzetti who decided to paint the old houses of the village. So, thanks to this initiative, painters and artists from everywhere in the world  brought this idea to life, making this town even more beautiful and characteristic: it can be considered an outdoor art gallery, with poetry in the walls and graffiti. In occasione di the festival the small town comes alive: there are about 100 thousand visitors every year.

The story of the Peperoncino Festival of Diamante

The event has a very interesting history: it was born in 1992 when the celebrations for the 500th anniversary since the discovery of America were being held  in Genoa. In that same occasion however it was not highlighted that Cristopher Columbus in those ships brought not only potatos, tomatos and beans but also chili pepper. So, Enzo Monaco, he who founded the Accademia italiana del peperoncino, decided to organize in Diamante the event “1492-1992 Cinquecento anni piccanti” (500 spicy years). Initially it started out as a one shot event, featuring free entry, fairs, shows, panels dedicated to chili pepper, but it soon became an chance to celebrate the occasion year after year.

When does the Peperoncino Festival of Diamante?

The Peperoncino Festival of Diamante has taken place every year during the second week of September: this year however will be an exception due to technical and logistical problems and its XXIX edition will happen from Wednesday 6 of October and Sunday 10 of October 2021. The planning committee guarantees that the programs schedule for semptember will remain for the October dates, and as in the past there will be free entry

Panels, food tasting, exhibitions and much more: shows on stilts and clowns, special guests and unique events. The big protagonist of the event is clearly chili pepper: the town of Diamante for five days becomes the “Makkah of chili pepper”.

You will be able to appreciate all the varieties and the chili-based specialties such as some spicy recipes typical of Calabria among which stand out a ‘nduja di Spilinga, sardella di Crucoli, morsello di Catanzaro. In one of the exhibitions of the festival there will be over 500 chili pepper varieties but not only that: the event aims at focusing on art, culture, and delicacies related to chili pepper, so it will not be all about food tasting but also about “spicy shows”, the “international festival of spicy cinema”, medical conventions to explain the beneficial properties of chili pepper, poetries on topic, award for the best dissertation focused on this famous vegetable. 

Here is a list of all the activities planned for the Peperoncino Festival of Diamante:

  • Degustazi
  • Food tasting 
  • Street shows
  • Art exhibitions 
  • Drawing competitions 
  • Spicy cinema festival 
  • Italian championship of chili pepper eaters

A particular activity typical of the Calabria region is the Italian championship of chili pepper eaters: a tradition reserved only to those who can take it, and a very bizzarre one. According to tradition, in the past, the strength of a person could be seen through their ability to eat spicy foods: in this way they recreate this old rite to which both men and women can participate. Always according to tradition, the challenge takes place over thirty minutes in which men and women sat at the table have to eat as much chili pepper as possible, accompanying it with only bread and oil.

How to get to Diamante?

To get to the town of Diamante by car, it it necessary to reach the city of Cosenza: from there you have to go on for about 70 km on the  A3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria and take the exit to Lagonegro Nord. Then continue toward Praia a Mare and Scalea. Finally take the exit to Falerna and head toward Salerno on the SS18.

If you prefer going by public transportation, there are many buses that connect Cosenza to Diamante, or through train stations of Scalea and Paola. 

Guests of the Peperoncino Festival of Diamante 2021

As every year, 2021 too has a lot of special guests: Riccardo Scamarcio will be at the inauguration. There will also be a lot of celebrities at the festival, such as Orietta Berti, Giulio Berruti, Cristiano Malgioglio, Mita Medici, Peppe Voltarelli and many others. All the participants will be welcomed by Re Peperoncino (chili pepper king), impersonated by famous actor Gianni Pellegrino.

As you might have understood, if you are true lover of all things spicy you cannot miss the Peperoncino Festival in Diamante: get you stuff ready and take part in the event with your friends! 

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