Pizzo isn’t a place you just hap­pen to pass through. But deep down in the boot on the Tyrrhen­ian coast, the old town cen­tre oozes such authen­tic southern-Italianness you could mis­take it for a movie set, with its nar­row streets, piazza, shops and peo­ple seem­ingly frozen in time.

Curi­ous to see what it was all about, I spent my fer­ragosto Cal­abria–hop­ping, on the look­out for some gen­uine b-side Italy. And there in Pizzo I was for­tu­nate to have an ice-cream with Mr. Cal­lipo, local entre­pre­neur and quite a char­ac­ter, Pippo to his friends.

Fourth-generation head of the epony­mous tuna fish empire, founded in 1913 and pro­duc­ing the best canned or bot­tled prod­uct in Italy, Pippo Cal­lipo is also a pro­pounder of coura­geous ideas. While Cal­abria lan­guished as one of the country’s poor­est regions, rav­aged by cor­rup­tion and orga­nized crime under the ‘ndragheta mafia net­work, Pippo founded an asso­ci­a­tion called Io Resto in Cal­abria, a loud and proud ‘I’m Stay­ing in Cal­abria’ which invites his fel­low coun­try­men to do the same, i.e. stay put, work hard and fight back.

The most dan­ger­ous mafia in the coun­try doesn’t carry a weapon but a pen. Red tape is much worse than all the other mafias and it’s killing our businesses

                              Pippo Callipo

Pippo’s words on the issue cut like a knife. He says chang­ing the future of the region isn’t just a job for the judi­ciary; rather it depends on the peo­ple them­selves, on indi­vid­u­als who are proud of the land they were born in.

Savvy Pippo turned the fam­ily com­pany into a global tuna brand now count­ing around 300 employ­ees doing hon­est work. But Pizzo is renowned for ice cream too (more about that in another post), so our Mr. Cal­lipo branched out in that direc­tion and made Gela­te­ria Cal­lipo the fastest-growing gelato busi­ness this side of Grom. The fac­tory in Pizzo now makes around 80 tons a day. And to cap it all, Pippo and his part­ner Cinzia have opened a lux­ury resort as well. More hon­est work.

Cal­lipo Group
Via Riv­iera Pranghi 156
89812 Pizzo Cal­abro (VV)
+38 0963 99621