Medieval Villages of Calabria, Part II

Last week I ran down six beautifully well-preserved Medieval villages in the provinces of Reggio Calabria and Crotone. The more popular villages of Gerace and Stilo made the cut, but that list was far from complete.

If you think Calabria’s other three provinces are lacking in such charming mountain towns, think again. Here are six more Medieval Villages in Calabria from the provinces of Cosenza, my home province of Catanzaro and nearby Vibo Valentia.

1. Rocca Imperiale (CS)
Clinging to a hill in the province of Cosenza near Basilicata, Rocca Imperiale forms a pyramid of houses-a literal translation from their website!-and features a massive Swabian stone castle.

The castle was built under the order of Frederick II in the 13th Century and has a deep ravine and cylindrical towers. Other interesting things to see include the 16th Century Byzantine Convent of St. Antonio and the wax museum.

2. Altomonte (CS)
Altomonte is the self-proclaimed “Island of the ‘300 Tuscan Calabria,” and no, I have no idea what that means.

I do know this charming village has some of Calabria’s best-preserved examples of medieval architecture, particularly the Lady of Consolation Church, one of the best examples of Gothic-Angevin architecture in Calabria, the Norman Tower of Pallotta, the 12th Century Norman castle and civic museum.

3. Oriolo (CS)
This small village in the province of Cosenza sits at the base of a cliff and was established during the High Middle Ages when residents fled the coastal areas to avoid Saracen attacks.

The castle was built for the Sanseverino family, while the San Giorgio Church, with its wood and marble statues, is listed among the national monuments by the Ministry of Culture.

4. Squillace (CZ)
A Norman castle towers over the Medieval center of Squillace and commands the small piazza where it stands.

Panoramic views from the town overlook the Gulf of Squillace and Ionian Sea and it is easy to get lost meandering through the tiny alleys and walkways. The Diocesan Museum is located inside the 18th Century Bishop’s Palace and contains artifacts from the 14th-19th centuries.

5. Badolato (CZ)
Badolato is another well-preserved Medieval town in the province of Catanzaro that offers visitors optimum views of the Ionian Sea.

The village is jam-packed with churches that house a number of interesting artifacts and artwork, although rumor has it only one of the churches still opens for Mass on a regular basis. For more on Badolato, visit Bleeding, a blog written by a fellow American in Calabria and personal friend of mine, Michelle Fabio.

6. Nicotera (VV)
Like most of the other Medieval villages on the list, Nicotera is popular for its panoramic views over its little part of Calabria. In Nicotera’s case, it overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea and the province of Vibo Valentia.

The Ruffo Castle was originally built in the 11th Century, was destroyed by earthquakes and invasions and was later reconstructed in the 1700s near the ruins of a Norman palace. The Baroque Cathedral of the Assumption-also built on Norman ruins, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art and the Bishop’s Palace are also worth a look.

There you have it. Twelve well-preserved Medieval villages in Calabria. What is your favorite Medieval village in Italy?

(Photo credits:bollita, borgochianura, altomonte.asmenet, ilbaccanale-oriolo, wikimedia,, rete.comuni-italiani)

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

6 Responses
  1. AmyEmilia

    The photo of Altamonte is amazing. Thanks for adding even more to my list of places to see!

    Anything I can do … 😉

  2. EFDonato

    Eventhough Altomonte is one of my families towns, the photo of Badolato, looking out to sea, is very impressive.

    Def. Badolato is bellissima. Are you familiar with Michelle of Bleeding Espresso? She’s a writer/attorney living in Badolato. Check out her site, if you haven’t already!

  3. Kathleen DellaValle

    My ancestors from Oriolo are named DeLia.
    I am awestruck with the beauty and history of the area. My Grandfather, Guiseppe, would talk about it when I was young, but I never appreciated what he meant. Thank you.

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