Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

Calabria Tour Stilo thumbnail Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

After the fall of the Roman Empire, a host of invaders flocked across southern Italy, establishing some of the most charming villages in Calabria. This period in our history is called “the Middle Ages,” and the towns they created along the way-Medieval villages-are everywhere in Calabria.

Travelers and expats alike are mesmerized by these towns, monuments of Calabria’s tormented past whose varied architecture represents the changing times.

If you are planning on visiting Calabria, here is a quick rundown on some of the most popular medieval villages in the region.

Calabria Tour Gerace Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

1. Gerace (RC)
Gerace is to medieval villages what Rome is roman ruins … in other words, it is the bomb diggity of cool mountain villages.

Located in the Aspromonte mountains in the province of Reggio Calabria, Gerace is considered to be the best preserved medieval village in Italy. The Assunta Cathedral, built in 1045, is the largest religious structure in Calabria and features cylindrical apses, arches and three naves. Other interesting sites in the village include the Norman Castle, the Byzantine Church of San Giovannello and the San Francesco Convent and Church.

Calabria Tour Stilo Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

2. Stilo (RC)
Stilo is a small mountain village just 30 miles north of Gerace at the foot of Mount Consolino and is home to one of Calabria’s most beloved icons, La Cattolica.

Stilo was one of the most important Byzantine centers in Calabria and housed Basilian monks and hermits who fled from persecution in the 10th Century. The five-domed church, La Cattolica, is the main attraction, but the Gothic-Swabian Duomo, Church of San Francesco and the Convent Church of San Domenico are also worth a look.

Calabria Tour Monasterace Castle Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

3. Monasterace (RC)
Ruins of a Byzantine castle are the focal point of this tiny village that overlooks the Ionian coast in the province of Reggio Calabria.

In addition to the castle that once housed the royal Caracciolo, Conclubet and Monaco families, visitors can visit the S. Croce Parochial and see a canvas that dates back to the early 700s or visit the remains of a Greek hill at nearby Kaulonia.

Calabria Tour Pentidattilo Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

4. Pentidattilo (RC)
Pentidattilo, or five fingers, is not only a interesting village because of the Medieval churches and countryside views, but because of its formidable history that lead the city to be named one of Italy’s Città Morte.

The five fingers of Pentidattilo loom above the village, an ominous reminder of the decades of earthquake destruction and mandatory evacuations that cleared the village, as well as of the notorious Alberti family Massacre on Easter, 1686.

Interesting things to see include The Church of Saint Peter and Paul with its massive bell tower, numerous statues and the tomb of Don Giuseppe Alberti and the Chiesa della Candelora.

Calabria Tour Santa Saverino Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

5. Santa Severina (KR)
Santa Severina hangs on a rock-filled ledge in the province of Crotone overlooking the Neto River valley.

The town is a testament to the groups who conquered this part of Italy and many of the architectural elements of the medieval times remain. The 11th Century Norman Castle overpowers the Byzantine ruins on which it was built and is referred to as “the stone ship,” for the strong walls that guard the castle’s entrance. The Baptistery, a circular building with four appendages with 10th and 11th Century frescos is the only Byzantine baptistery in Calabria still intact.

Calabria Tour Cutro Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part I

6. Cutro (KR)
Cutro is not only interesting for its Medieval city center and abandoned tower that dates back to the early 400s, but it is also well-known for its bread-pane di Cutro-that is made with durum wheat and has a signature thick crust.

A visit to the city should include a stop in a local bakery, as well as the Monachelle Church, with its Renaissance portal, the Santa Maria della Pietà Church and the Frati Minori Convent with its bell tower and 17th Century wooden crucifix.

Was your favorite medieval village left off of the list? Come back next week to see my pick of villages from the provinces of Catanzaro, Cosenza and Vibo Valentia.

(Photo credits: Comune di Stilo, Italiaabc, Natura Mediterranea, Wikipedia, Foto Community, Panoramio, Wikipedia)

Traveling to southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help with your Calabria travel plans.

Liverpool’s life through a lens; Angus Tilston talks to PETER GRANT about his new film on Liverpool’s history.(Features)

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England) January 18, 2003 Byline: PETER GRANT FILM-MAKER Angus Tilston had a vision that turned into a personal mission. He wanted to capture 100 years of Liverpool life. So, upon his retirement, he decided to embark upon the adventure. Over the past ten years he has created four films on the city’s history for his own Pleasures Past video series. And the former accountant now believes his latest archive video is a unique one. He has painstakingly put together the fifth and, for now, final video of the Pleasures Past series and he says looking back has been a real labour of love. “I think the collective footage I’ve collected is probably the most comprehensive coverage of any British city available to the public,” Angus says. “I have produced films about places like Bury, Burnley, St Helens, Southport and the Wirral but I do believe that Liverpool people can’t get enough of nostalgia. “They have immense pride in their city, its heritage and culture. “It is an ever-changing city and I find it fascinating when you see just how certain parts of Liverpool have altered over the years from the 70s to present day.” Although photographs play a huge part in offering insights into old Liverpool, Angus says videos are vital in keeping the past alive. “Video records do offer something more than photo stills for obvious reasons. “I never tire of making the videos because there is such a vast amount of material available and I always love to hear from people who spot themselves or their families or friends in the films.” Angus even brought in his own good friend, the broadcaster Monty Lister – one of Radio Merseyside’s veterans – as a narrator for the project. “I have known Monty for about 50 years since the days when we worked on hospital radio together at Lever Brothers,” hesays. “Monty has a great radio voice to capture that newsreel feel.” After ten years of making the present nostalgia series, Angus says he has reached his target of covering the 20th century. Angus, 69, first became interested in films at Birkenhead Institute in 1949 when he got his first projector. In the years that followed, Angus, a fellow of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers, made around 200 films. go to site black swan movie black swan movie

Living in Bebington with his wife Ena, Angus says: “When I first retired I thought to myself `what do I do now with my time?’ That was when I started making the Liverpool films. “I have always been an amateur filmmaker and was one of the founder members of Wirral’s Swan Movie Makers, formed back in 1955 when four Unilever workers got together. “It’s 48 years on so in two years time we must mark our 50th anniversary too,” he says. Angus has been happy living in the past, turning back the clock of Liverpool life – its diverse characters and its many headline-making events. He says his own personal favourites from the sequences include the Kingsway tunnel before it was opened to the public. Says Angus: “The Royal Wedding parties for Charles and Diana celebrated with some great happy street celebrations. There have been some really colourful occasions in Chinatown, too. Who can forget the end of the Kop and the Three Sisters chimneys at the Clarence dock power station. “It took me six months to put this last video together. I could have used more than three hours of material but I think 60 minutes is just right.” Angus says another personal favourite of his is Liverpool legend Professor Codman.

“It was fascinating to hear the whole story of their legacy in Liverpool,” he says. “Punch and Judy is a Victorian puppet show which moved across the city. I remember a packed Williamson Square when it was on. “Professor Codman believes that life is so fast-paced these days that people don’t have the time to stop and stare anymore – a whole bygone age.” Angus’ 30-year-plan to videotape the significant events in 100 years of Liverpool life started off a hobby. Now he is delighted that the moving pictorial jigsaw is complete, but what will he do with more time on his hands?

“I have work I could do plenty of footage about the Wirral,” he says. “My own favourite footage is the Edwardian and Victorian periods. “The sixties was a fun one to do because Ken Dodd said he collected the videos and he even volunteered to do the narrative for me. “He has such as distinctive voice and a love of Liverpool that is so evident.

“I think everyone enjoys being nostalgic – and Merseysiders are keener than most. There is real pride in seeing the way things were and how they are now. “People like to compare and I think that is one advantage to making films real keepsakes of the past.” Each video in the Pleasure Past series is pounds 13.99 and is available through WH Smith or by writing to from 17 Poulton Road, Bebington CH63 9LA.


SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: Liverpool’s Chinese community celebrate the royal wedding in 1981; (Inset bottom right) Christopher Grace holds his ears and looks on as he; awaits the demolition of Clarence Dock Power Station

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  1. Great job, Cherrye. I have seen Gerace and hope to visit at least one other of these places before I leave Italy.

    Does that mean you are coming back down south? Yea!


  2. Even better, you can hit Gerace, Stilo, and Monasterace easily in one day! Gerace is the most touristy, so you’ll want to hit that while things are open (i.e., don’t show up between 1-4), but if you can visit Stilo during its Palio in the summer do it! Molto cool :) Reminds me, I don’t think I ever wrote about it or posted photos…hmm….

    Definitely. You can also see Gerace and the ruins in Locri in one go, too.

    .-= Michelle | Bleeding Espresso´s last blog ..A Fresco Painter’s Love Letter to Calabria =-.


  3. Two years ago we visited Gerace too and it was so unique and gorgeous. Is Caulonia the same town as Kaulonia? We visited Caulonia in the mountains as that’s where my maternal grandfather grew up. I’m so excited because, after 4 years of researching and gathering documents, the application for dual citizenship with Italy, for my two children and I was finally accepted!


    .-= Lenora´s last blog ..Italy Travel, Cinque Terre, September =-.


  4. Sigh. Sigh sigh *sigh*. Oh, I’d be in a fog of joy in such places…

    So these are living, working villages? Are there any protection orders on buildings, as with Britain’s Listing system? ( And have you seen Italian archaeologists at work anywhere?

    Having said that, I’ve just read a NatGeo article on the work being done underneath Rome, and that blew my mind, the fact that so much of it was still, *still* untouched. So I guess Italian archaeologist might have a lot on their plates right now. :)


  5. Great article, reading articles like this is what I need sometimes to get my own writing juices going again. Just sometimes it is so difficult to do all the research for an article like this and it is so easy to get lazy. Is also great to learn more about one of the places I plan on going to next time I get to Italy. Mark


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