The Pollino Range and The National Park.
Places: Civita – Frascineto – Castrovillari – San BAsile – Morano Calabro – Mormanno – Laino Borgo – Laino Castello – Parco NAzionale del Pollino.
Distances : 70 km.
CIVITA. Visit: The Raganello Gorge.
The town stands on the edge of a deep and mysterious gorge in the limestone formed by the Raganello River ( The Raganello Gorge) on the eastern side of the Pollino. It was founded by exiled Albanians and the old buildings can still be seen and are examples of the nationality and culture of the founding fathers which are of great interest to any visitor. Here the famous VAllje are still held. These are traditional dances and festivities. Interesting industrial remains such as wind and water mills and the spinning looms can be seen.
FRASCINETO. Visit: The Church of Santa Maria Assunta – The church of Saint Peter.
The town is situated at the foot of the southern side of the Pollino and was also founded by the exiled Albanians. It is well-known for its DOC wine ( certified as locally produced) from the many surrounding vineyards. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Basilica of Saint Peter dating from the 12th century with its oriental cupola are worth a visit. There is also an interesting permanent exhibition of Albanian dress.
CASTROVILLARI Visit: The Civic Museum – The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Castello – The Holy Trinity Church – The Church of San Domenico.
The town is situated in the valley of the River Coscile at the foot of the Pollino Range. Today it is a thriving township surrounded by 32 smaller towns. In the centre can be seen the Aragonese Castle, square-shaped with round towers at the corners. It is very well-preserved and dates from 1490. In the old part of the town it is possible to find The Church of San Giuliano, Il Conservatorio delle Pentite and the Jewish Synagogue. But the most impressive monument is the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Castello which stands on a hilltop and dominates the town. The Archaeological and Geological Civic Museum and the art gallery dedicated to “Gaetano Alfano” are also worth a visit. During the Mardi Gras festivities the International Folk Festival is held.
SAN BASILE. Visit: The Church of Santa Maria Odigidria.
This is a picturesque town with Albanian origins ( arberesh). The old Albanian language is still spoken by the inhabitants today. It is situated on the southern slopes of the Pollino Range. The Basilian Monastery Church of Santa Maria Odigidria is most interesting. It is one of the few churches remaining in Italy where the services follow the Greek orthodox rituals. A thirteenth century fresco of the Madonna must not be missed. A procession in Albanian costume in honour of the Madonna della Misericordia is held every year.
MORANO CALABRO. Visit: The Castle – The Church of San Bernardino – The Church of the Maddalena – The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
This is certainly one of the most important and fascinating places in the Pollino National Park. Its very position offers a marvellous panorama which once was extremely important strategically. The view takes in the Valley of the River Coscile and ancient Sybaris. Right at the top of the town stands the Norman castle, now in ruins. But two most important monuments are the Church of San Bernardino, built towards the middle of the fifteenth century by the Sanseverino family and a little further on, the Church of the Maddalena, one of the most illustrious examples of CAlabrian baroque art ( inside ) while outside the architecture is neo-classical. The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul with statues by Bernini is also a must. At the foot of the Serra del Prete mountain (1000m) you can see the remains of the Convent of Colloreto founded in 1545.
The town goes back to ancient times. It is believed to have been founded in the VI century. It fits beautifully into the Pollino geographical environment. Its territory borders on the region of Basilicata. The simple, genuine kind of well-preserved buildings are typical of the area. The stone fronted Church of Santa Maria del Colle which dates back to the fifteenth century is worthy of note. There is also the Church of Saint Catherine which has Byzantine origins. It is also important to visit the huge votive pillar which is dedicated to war victims of Calabria.
LAINO BORGO. Visit: The sanctuary of the Madonna dello Spasimo – The Church of the Spirito Santo.
The town is placed between the mountains of the Pollino and of the Sirino ranges. The area around is wooded. It is near the probable siting of the ancient settlements of Laus and Tebe Lucana. There are remains which could testify to this. Worthy of note are the Church of The Santo Spirito and the Sanctuary of the Madonna dello Spasimo. The latter was built by Domenico Longo and modelled on the Chapel of Saint Elena in Jerusalem.
LAINO CASTELLO Visit: The Church of San Teodoro – The castle.
The town is a hundred metres above Laino Borgo. The Aragonese Castle dominates the area. The walls and towers of the castle are still quite well preserved. The Church of San Teodoro is worth a visit.
POLLINO NATIONAL PARK.
The Park was inaugurated in 1993. It covers an area of 195 thousand hectares and lies in both Calabria and Basilicata. There are two main mountain ranges: the first and most important is the range which culminates in the DolceDorme peak ( 2,260m) and lies both in Calabria and Basilicata; the second area includes the Orsomarso chain on the western side in Calabria. The Calabrian part is rocky and majestic and characterized by crevices and sheer rock faces. The part in Lucania has a more gentle aspect. The Pino Loricato ( Pinus Leocodermis) is extremely interesting and is considered by experts to be a living fossil because of some of its bio-morphological characteristics which are no longer to be found in other living species. It has a thick protective bark formed of overlapping plaques which give it its name: armour-plated. The other most common trees in the area are beech, maple, fir and oak. There are numerous types of animals which are no longer present in other areas. Wolves, otters, deer, wild cats, Royal eagles, vultures, royal owls and many bird species. There are 32 towns within the park area , all with their specific cultural and architectural interest. Sanctuaries, convents, ancient town centres, and castles all offer interesting alternatives to the natural environment. There are religious festivals and folk festivals which allow the visitor to become part of this old and beautiful land.
THE SILA AND THE CALABRIA NATIONAL PARK.
Places: Piana Caruso.The Sila and The National Park
Distances : 44 km.
PIANA CARUSO. VISIT: The Church of San Francesco.
The area lies within the territory of Corigliano Calabro. It is an ideal place for holidays between the Cino and Coriglianeto Torrents. It is at 800 metres above sea level and offers magnificent views and stunning sunsets. It is a place of rare beauty.
THE SILA AND THE CALABRIA NATIONAL PARK.
When we think of Calabrian mountains we think of the Sila. It stretches for 40 kilometres and has a maximum width of 30 kilometres. It can be divided into three parts. Sila Grande, in the centre of the highlands which is the most populated and busy part. The most important town is San Giovanni in Fiore. There are also the tourist towns of Camigliatello Silano and Lorica. The Sila Grande slopes down to the Ionian Sea and many towns of Albanian origin are in this area. The Greek names recall the arrival of the Greeks many centuries ago. The Sila Piccola lies to the south in the provinces of Crotone and Catanzaro. The entire upland area which rises to over 1500m is covered in luxuriant vegetation with beech, chestnut and larch woods. In winter the trees, the rocks, the three lakes and the very landscape transform the area into a Nordic paradise. In spring, after the rigid winter months, wild flowers spring up in all the clearings and pastures: orchids, crocus, asphodels. They herald the arrival of summer. The fauna is typical of the Appenine regions. Visitors may even see wild boar, squirrels, woodpeckers, jays, doves and different birds of prey. There are also rooks, crows, falcons, wolves, foxes, deer, roebuck, salamanders and different kinds of adders, non poisonous snakes and lizards. The National Park of CAlabria is different in that it is divided into two separate parts which are twenty kilometres apart. It also lies in two different provinces. The Park however is well-organized. There is a natural museum, a botanical garden, a geological area and an ethnographic museum. Regular tourist facilities are also available.
THE SIBARITIDE HINTERLAND.
Places: Tarsia – Terranova da Sibari – Spezzano Albanese – San Lorenzo del Vallo – Firmo – Lungro – Altomonte – San Marco Argentano. Distances: 88.1 km
TARSIA.Visit: The Abbey of Santa Maria di Camigliano.
The name TArsia comes from the family which reigned in feudal times. The place was perhaps originally called Taurasia or Caprasia. Ancient Greek remains have been found near the site of the railway station and others near the area called Mandoleto. A bronze statue of Heracles and a fragment of a sculpted bas-relief pathos dating from the archaic Ionian period around the 4th century BC have been discovered. The medieval Abbey of Santa Maria di Camigliano founded by the Byzantines, the Tarsia Lake Nature Reserve and the mouth of the River Crati along with the Fascist concentration camp at Ferramonti are all interesting places to visit.
TERRANOVA DA SIBARI. Visit: The Church of San Francesco – The Church of Sant’Antonio and the convent. The Castle.
Terranova stands on a hill 350 m above sea level and 20 km from the northern part of the Ionian coast. The town took its name after the unification of Italy . It was probably founded between the IV and VII centuries BC by the survivors of Turio which was destroyed by the people of Crotone and thus the name Turio Nova. Important archaeological remains have been found in the archaeological areas. The town was a bishop’s see in ancient Christian times and is the birthplace of two popes: Saint Telesforo and Saint Dionisio. The Vittorio Emanuele Square with its 17th century buildings is worth a look. There is also the medieval castle, the Church and Convent of Sant’Antonio, the Church of San Nicola and the Church of San Francesco.
SPEZZANO ALBANESE. Visit: The Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie.
The town is on a hill to the west of the Sibaritide. Its origins go way back in time. Near the town a necropolis dating from the Iron Age has been found. In the XVI century Albanian refugees arrived here. Agriculture is very important in this area. The Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie and the Spa complex with its various types of waters and treatments are places to visit.
SAN LORENZO DEL VALLO. Visit: the Castle – The Church of Maria santissima delle Grazie.
This is a farming community on the hills to the west of the Plain of Sibari, 350 metres above sea level. The River Esaro flows nearby. Here too a necropolis dating from the Iron Age has been found. Any visitor must see the Church of MAria Santissima delle Grazie where Renaissance works dating from the 16th century can be seen and the Feudal Castle dating from the 18th – 19th centuries which dominates the town with its imposing square mass.
FIRMO. Visit: The Dominican Convent.
The town is situated in the centre of the area most populated by Albanian communities. One of the buildings which recalls most vividly the traditional Albanian architecture is the Dominican Church. Alessio Comite , leader of the exiled Albanian people, lived here. The celebrations in honour of the patron saint, Atanasio, reveal the presence still of Albanian customs and traditions.
LUNGRO. Visit: The Cathedral of San Nicola di Mira.
The town lies in the foothills of the Pollino range. The National Park is not far. It is an ancient Byzantine centre and is home to the major religious authority in the Greek-Byzantine church, the Bishop or “Eparca”. It is the hub of Albanian culture in Calabria and the ancient Albanian language is still spoken here. The Greek cathedral of San Nicola di Mira, the old salt mines with their mysterious caves and lakes offer unforgettable memories for any visitor.
ALTOMONTE Visit: The church of Santa Maria della Consolazione – The Norman Castle, The Church of San Francesca di Paola – The Civic Museum – The Church of San Giacomo Apostolo.
The town lies in the valley of the Esaro and is renowned for its works of art. The Torre della Pallotta, The Norman Castle and the Amphitheatre are of great interest. Every summer in the Amphitheatre there are shows of different kinds: The National Murales Competition, The festival dei Due Mari. The visitor must not miss the Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione and the adjoining museum of the same name. The church which was rebuilt in 1336 by Filippo I Sangineto is a perfect example of gothic Angevin architecture. The main door has a pointed arch with another arch below. The huge rose window is amazing. Double lancet windows adorn the bell tower. The entire building is exceptionally beautiful. Many of the church treasures are now housed in the adjoining museum.
SAN MARCO AGENTANO. Visit: The Abbey of Santa Maria della Matina – The Church della Riforma – the Church of San Giovanni.
The town is situated on a hill which dominates the valley of the River Follone. Near the town the vast round well-preserved Torre stands. It rises to 18m and has a diameter of 10m. It was built by the Normans around 1500. The Church of San Giovanni Battista, Norman too, can be visited. Also dating from the Norman period there is the Church della Riforma and on the outskirts of the town stands the Abbey of Santa Maria della Matina, a medieval structure from Norman times.
THE ARBERESHE COMMUNITY.
Places: San Giorgio Albanese – Vaccarizzo Albanese – San Cosmo Albanese – San Demetrio Corone – Santa Sofia D’Epiro. Distances: 25.9 km
SAN GIORGIO ALBANESE.
This is a farming community situated in the foothills of the Serra Crista d’Acri. In 1400 exiled Albanians settled here. The dominant family was the Busa family and from here we have the name “Mbuzati o Mbuzat”. The settlement belonged to the Abbazia del PAtire. The ancient language, the customs and traditional costumes are still evident here. The church services follow the Greek-Byzantine ritual. The parish church of the great martyr Saint George is a most interesting place to visit.
VACCARIZZO ALBANESE. Visit: The Church of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli – the Museum – The Church della Madonna del Rosario.
It is situated on the north side of the Sila Greca below the Serra Crista d’Acri. The town dates from around 1470. It was here that Prince Sanseverino di Bisignano kept his cattle in winter and hence the name, vaccarizzo from the Italian word for cow – vacca. Visitors should see the Church of Santissima Maria di Costantinopoli, 17th century, Greek Byzantine ritual, and the Church della Madonna del Santissimo Rosario and The Church della Confraternità. Furthermore there is the Museum where there is a permanent display of Albanian costumes. The Albanian name for the town is “Vakarici”.
SAN COSMO ALBANESE. Visit: The Church of Saints Cosimo e DAmiano.
This is a small Albanian town situated at the foot of the Sila Greca at 400 m above sea level and 10 km from the Plain of Sibari. It is surrounded by olive groves. The visitor must see the Sanctuary of Saint Cosimo and Saint DAmiano which is the jewel in the crown of the Arberesh communities. There are interesting paintings of the Greek Orthodox religious rituals inspired by Byzantine culture. The Albanian name is “Strighari”.
SAN DEMETRIO CORONE. Visit: The Church of Sant’Adriano.
The town is in a fertile valley, surrounded by olive groves stretching to the valley of the Crati. The town is a cultural centre and is linked to the Italo-Albanian college of Sant’Adriano. This was transferred here in 1794 from San Benedetto Ullano. The origins of the college go back to the founding of the Greek abbey in 955 by San NIlo. A visit to the Church of Sant’Adriano from the X – XII centuries is a must. The building is exceptional and inside there are frescoes of animals (panthers, lions, snakes). Besides, every year there is a week dedicated to the various Arberesh communities. The Albanian name is “Shen Mitri”.
SANTA SOFIA D’EPIRO. Visit: the Museum – The Church of Santa Sofia – The Church of Sant’Antanasio.
This is another town which follows Albanian customs. It is situated between the mountains of the Sila Greca and the Ionian Plain. Santa Sofia goes way back in time. The name “Epiro” was added in 1873. In 1192 Santa Sofia was part of the feudal land belonging to the Bishop of Bisignano following a Papal Bull by Celestino III. It was resettled by the Albanians at the end of the 15th century. Places to visit include The Church of Santa Sofia, The Church of Sant’Anastasio The Great dating from 1742 where there are excellent frescoes in the Greek-Byzantine style and also the Museum of Albanian costumes. The Albanian name is “Shen Sofia”.
THE PLAIN OF SIBARI.
Places: Cassano allo Jonio – Sibari – Corigliano Calabro – Rossano – Paludi. Distances: 67.2 Km
CASSANO ALLO IONIO. Visit: The Cathedral – The Diocesan Museum – The Church dei Cappuccini – the Castle – the Church of San Giuseppe.
The town is on the southern Ionian slopes of the Pollino range. Sibari lies near on the coast and is within the jurisdiction of Cassano. Sibari has a fascinating history dating back many centuries, especially to Roman times. The Castello Della Pietra is worth a visit as are the Torre Milone, the Cathedral, the Sanctuary della Madonna della Catena and the Sant’Antonio caves where traces of Neolithic man can be seen.
SIBARI. Visit: the Archaeological museum – the Archaeological excavations.
On the banks of the River Sibari traces of the ancient town of Sybaris were found. This was a grandiose city belonging to Magna Grecia. The town reached its fame and was then destroyed by the people of Crotone in 510 AC. With Sibari the remains of Copia and Thurii were also destroyed.
It is important to visit the National Archaeological Museum of the Sibaritide and the excavations. Here there are artefacts which reveal the presence of the three different settlements: Sybaris, Thurium and Copia. It is still possible today to see where the three settlements lie one on top of the other. The area lies to the left of the River Crati and under the State Highway 106. Here you can visit the Parco del CAvallo and the Parco dei Tori. Sibari is also home to a modern spa complex and also to Calabria’s largest port near the Laghi di Sibari village.
CORIGLIANO CALABRO. Visit: The castle – The Church of San Francesco – The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul – The Church of Santa Maria – The Sanctuary of the Madonna of Schiavonea.
Situated in the heart of the Sibari Plain, between the slopes of the Sila and the Pollino mountains facing the Ionian Sea, the area around Corigliano presents various morphological characteristics. In just a few kilometres you pass from a Mediterranean landscape to Alpine scenery. Here Greek, Latin, Byzantine and Norman civilisations have marked the land leaving so much to discover. The VX century Castle is a treasure trove: elegant, solid, majestic, with four crenelated turrets and a massif draw bridge. Inside there are important works of art, for example the triptych by Domenico Morelli ( Madonna with child and a saint). These can be discovered wandering through the elegant salons. The old historical part of the town is also worth a visit with its historic churches dating from the XI and XVII centuries. The Churches of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Sant’Antonio of Padova, Santa Chiara, San Francesco di Paola, Santa Maria Maggiore. On the shores of the Ionian Sea we can find Schiavonea ( zona del Cupo) where it is possible to visit the Torre del Cupo, the Sanctuary della Madonna della Schiavonea and Il Quadrato Campagna. This is an imposing rectangular building built between 1846 and 1850 by Baron Luigi Campagna.
ROSSANO Visit: The Cathedral – The Diocesan Museum – The Church of San Bernardino – The Church della Panaghia, The Church of the Madonna del Pathirion.
This is an important city facing the Ionian Sea between Corigliano Calabro and Cariati. It lies on the edge of the Sila Greca. It is built on a sandstone hill which dominates the sea. This was the most important centre for Byzantine culture in Calabria. The Byzantine influence was omnipresent in the city both culturally and architecturally. Rossano has been called the “Ravenna of the South” or “Little Ravenna”. When looking at Rossano from afar its isolated, protected position is evident and is symbolic of the mystical aura surrounding Byzantine culture. The churches of San Bernardino, San Panaghia, Santa Maria del Patire, Santa Maria del Pilere and all the many others merit careful attention. Do visit the Diocesan Museum and not only to admire the Codex Purpureus but also for the many other works of art kept in it. In the Località Zolfara visitors can find a modern well-equipped Acquapark, Odissea 2000. There are special terms for people staying in our holiday resort.
L’ALTO IONIO COSENTINO
Places: Oriolo – Roseto Capo Spulico – Rocca Imperiale – Amendolara – Trebisacce – Villapiana – Cerchiara di Calabria – San Lorenzo Bellizzi. Distances: 135.1 km
ORIOLO. VISIT: The Church of San Giorgio – castle.
The town has ancient origins and is situated between Amendolara and Rocca Imperiale on an outcrop which dominates the entire area. The strategic position was the reason for building the huge feudal castle which is a national monument. It is square in shape with enormous turrets.
The parish church of San Giorgio is also worth a look.
ROSETO CAPO SPULICO.
The town stands on the Ionian coast between Amendolara and Rocca Imperiale. Visitors should see the “CAstrum Petrae Roseti” (Castell della Pietra di Roseto) which was built on a promontory high above the sea. In the old part of the town of Roseto the original city walls dating from the XIII – XIV centuries can still be seen. There is also the Church of the Consolazione.
ROCCA IMPERIALE. Visit: the castle – The church of Sant’Antonio. The Cathedral.
This is the last and most picturesque town in Calabria before crossing into Basilicata. The town is built around the well-preserved Castello Imperiale. Founded in 1255 by Frederick II of Swabia. There may have been earlier settlements before this date, even before Roman times or in the late Middle Ages. The coastal watch Tower is also open to visitors.
AMENDOLARA Visit: The Church of Santa Margherita – Palazzo Grisolia.
The town is four kilometres from the state highway 106 Jonica and from the seaside resort of Roseto Capo Spulico. The town is famous for the archeological remains which have been found there. It was probably the site of the ancient settlement of Lagaria, a city in Magna Grecia. There are two beautiful churches for the visitor to admire, La Matrice and The Church of the Annunziata. Both date back to medieval times. There is also an archaeological museum.
TREBISACCE. Visit: The Church of San Nicola.
The town stands guard on the upper Ionian coast on the edge of the Plain of Sibari. From time immemorial Trebisacce has guarded the land from invasions of Saracen pirates with its massive bastions and watch towers. The old part of the town is worth a visit as are the old walls, The Torre del Saraceno and the parish church. The church has a bell tower with a spire topped by a cupola adorned with tiles placed in a spiral fashion. It is Byzantine in style. The inside is divided into three naves and is baroque in style.
VILLAPIANA. Visit: The castle – The San Severino Palace.
The town is 7.5 kilometres form Villapiana Lido which is on the coast to the north of Sibari. The town was founded in 1300. There are still remains of the Medieval Castle and the Palazzo dei Principi ( XV – XVI centuries). There are two watch towers at Castelnuovo and Lavinaro. Nearby stands the main church which is gothic and further on there is the Antro delle Ninfee Lusiadi. This is a cave, home to the spring of thermal waters. Villapiana Lido is more recent. It is a lively seaside resort complete with shops and tourist facilities.
CERCHIARA DI CALABRIA. Visit: The Castle – The Sanctuary of La Madonna delle Armi.
The town enjoys an enviable position 750 metres above sea level on the karstic mountains of the Sellaro. You can still see the imposing remains of the fourteenth century castle. In the old town centre the Church of San Giacomo is built on medieval foundations. It houses an interesting work dating from the 16th century which depicts San Nicola. The Church of San Pietro stands nearby. The Sanctuary of La Madonna delle Armi is a bazillion sanctuary and stands high up on the mountainside at 1000metres. Inside, in a cave you can admire the icon of La Madonna delle Armi sculpted in stone. There are many caves around Cerchiara. The most famous are: L’Abisso del Bifurro and L’Antro delle Ninfee. The caves of Serra del Gufo are also very impressive.
SAN LORENZO BELLIZZI.
The town was founded by Fabrizio Pignatelli in order to give a home to peasant families from Cerchiara who worked in the fields not far off. As you enter this small, picturesque town, we see straight away the stone bell tower which was built by local craftsmen. The countryside around is rocky and characterized by mountains and rushing torrents like Il Raganello which roars through a gorge. There are numerous caves to explore: Grotta del Banco di Ferro, Grotta delle Volpi, Grotta di Pietro S. Angelo. Other caves are visible on the rocky slopes of Timpa di San Lorenzo and on the cliff face of L’Orrido del Raganello.