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From Pollino to the sea

From the Pollino National Park to the Ionic coast, from Morano Calabro to Rossano.

From Pollino to the sea

Air laced with the scent of the mountain greets visitors to Morano Calabro, a stunningly picturesque town, the narrow lanes and passageways of which wind their way up the hillside and culminate in the impressive Norman castle overlooking the Pollino massif. Standing out above the tightly packed stone houses, it is easy to spot the blue and yellow majolica faced dome and bell tower of the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena. Equally worthy of visit, is the town's late Gothic Church of San Bernardino da Siena, famous for its wooden ceiling, built like the hull of a ship, and the only one of its kind in Calabria. The Collegiate Church of S.S. Pietro e Paolo is the oldest of Morano Calabro's houses of worship, dating back to the start of the 11th century. Altered on more than one occasion over the years, the Church now offers a splendid example of 19th century baroque. Two statues by Pietro Bernini, father of the great Gian Lorenzo, take pride of place inside. In this part of Calabria, man made masterpieces live side by side those created by nature, as anybody returning from an excursion through the Pollino National Park will be able to testify.

In the heart of the Park, lies Castrovillari, town divided in two parts, that of the new town and the old Civita. We head in to the historic center so as to admire Castrovillari's impressive Arragon Castle and to visit the Civic Museum, this latter containing a collection of archaeological findings dating back to the Paleolythic age. Not to be missed, a stroll through the old district of Giudecca, inhabited by the town's numerous Jewish community, up until their expulsion in the 16th century. This is where to find the 12th century Church of San Giuliano, named after the patron saint of Castrovillari. Dozens of important works of art are conserved within the church, including a superb wooden crucifix over the altar and a painting of the Black Madonna, of evident byzantine inspiration.

From Castrovillari and the Pollino National Park we head towards the Ionic coast and the seaside town of Sibari, famous for its sandy beaches and an archaeological site containing Greek and Roman ruins. The historic center of Sibari boasts a number of attractive little churches and the ruins of a medieval castle. Just slightly inland, the Piana di Sibari, is a fertile plain where much of Calabria's succulent citrus fruit is cultivated.

Our journey draws to a close in a town famous for its licorice. Rossano is also known for the Codex purpureus rossanensis, 188 sheets of parchment on which the Greek monks, present in Rossano in the middle ages, wrote their evangeliary. The codex is conserved in the Diocesan museum inside Palazzo Arcivescovile. An important religious center since Byzantine times, Rossano boasts any number of churches within, and beyond, its walls. Not to be missed, the medieval monastic complex of Santa Maria Pàtire, also known as the Pathirion, edifice which testifies to both Rossano's Byzantine and Arab-Norman past. The Greek cross plan of the San Marco Oratory once again recalls the town's byzantine past. The mixture of styles present in Rossano's cathedral reflect the edifice's more than turbulent history. Of truly ancient origin, the Cathedral was rebuilt by Roberto d'Angio in 1330 only to be almost brought to the ground by the violent earthquake which destroyed much of Rossano in 1836. Rebuilding of the cathedral was completed some 78 years later, in 1914. A local legend concerning the cathedral would have the byzantine fresco of the town's Patron Saint, the Madonna Acheropita, miraculously appearing on the wall of the church, without any form of human intervention whatsoever.


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Calabria and Basilicata (all hotels)
Pollino National Park Hotels
Sibari Hotels