Land of my Father: Parenti, Southern Italy

August- September, 2016 and May, 2017

With origins dating back to the end of the 17th-century, Parenti in southern Italy is the land of my father.

Rather like a village more than a small town in Calabria, Parenti is nestled on the Valley of the beautiful Savuto River.

Parenti, Calabria, italyParenti is famous for agriculture, especially wonderful potatoes and sparkling fresh mineral water, which is bottled nearby.

Italians believe that Parenti’s rich soil and fresh clean air makes for the best potatoes in Italy, and other great produce. I hear that the onions in Tropea are also renown throughout Italy, but I’m yet to try some.

At the end of the day, every region in Italy specialises in its own type of wonderful produce. Guess I’ll just have to eat my way around Italy!

Getting to Parenti

A rickety old train takes you from Cosenza Central station and climbs the hills until you reach Rogliano, which is a town of just over 6,000 residents.

Cosenza, train, Calabria, Italy
Leaving Cosenza – part of the Old Town on the right

A bus awaits the train to take you on a wild ride to Parenti.

Expect to swerve around the snakelike road at a fast pace (this is Italy), which weaves its way around the mountains through many switchbacks, until you arrive in one piece (hopefully) in Parenti.

A little side-note about the bus drivers here…

Drivers swing a normal-sized bus around these wild switchbacks as if driving a Ferrari.

One hand turns the wheel whilst the other hand waves frantically in the air during a conversation with a passenger, or chatting on a mobile phone – simultaneously.

This all inclusive memorable experience that will leave your knuckles white and your nerves slightly shattered, comes at the bargain basement price of €4.60 return from Cosenza.

As the first visit to Parenti is in August and the height of summer, a car hire is in excess of €100 for the day. Although I’m glad to travel by train and bus, just for the experience.

A direct bus does travel between Cosenza and Parenti but these are few and far between. Cathcing the direct bus back to Cosenza does seem quicker and as the only 2 passengers in the bus, it is like a taxi hire. Your return ticket includes either mode of transport.

Rogliano, Parenti, Calabria, Italy
Cool train to Rogliano

The village

Chestnut and Oak trees surround this pretty village sitting high in the hills at some 850 metres above sea level (depending on who is telling the story or what you read – it varies).

Apart from Parenti’s beautiful surrounds, its close proximity to the Sila National Park with a plateau stretching five-hundred-thousand hectares should make this a tourist destination.

Although to the contrary, this is a very sleepy village with a declining population of just over 2,000 residents.

memorial, Parenti, Calabria, Italy
Memorial to the fallen of WWI

As my father hailed from a stone cottage further up a steep hill and only a kilometre from Parenti before emigrating in the 1950s to Australia, this is one of the reasons for visiting.

I still have many relatives in this town.

Another reason is to commence my Italian Citizenship process, which I emailed the Comune in Parenti – administrative division providing many civil functions – in advance, and on the advice of the Naples Immigration.

Scene from a movie

Arriving at around midday after the train and mad bus ride here, a coffee is beckoning, but alas, everything is closed. Streets are empty and Parenti seems just like a ghost town.

Finding a tiny nondescript dark bar, we venture in.

And venturing in is as if we’re entering onto a set of an old Spaghetti Western movie…

Approaching the dark hazy bar, several men are standing whilst leaning over the bar and drinking beer.

Casually, each one looks up at us, then slowly files away from the bar to drink outside.

The three elderly locals sitting at a table stop sipping their Espresso and also start watching us cautiously.

Strangers in town.

Ordering an Espresso at the bar, this is made from a tiny Pod machine. The first pod coffee I’m served in Italy.

The friendly elderly owner, Barista, come barman, brings the thimble-size plastic disposable cups on dainty ceramic saucers to our table.

Pacing the bar a couple of times before working up the courage, the barman wanders over again to chat with us, and starts asking questions.

It turns out that he knows my relatives in the village – no surprise – after all, this is a small place. So, after a friendly chat, we leave and find somewhere to eat, as this bar only serves crisps and chocolate bars.

Totally hilarious!

The barman is friendly enough, but his sparkling bright blue and inquisitive eyes searched my face continuously.

Perhaps as a stranger, I can’t be trusted? Think the scene: “You ain’t from ’round these ‘ere parts are ya?”

Cafetteria Pasticceria Di Fuoco Angela

On Via Salina N 168 and closing at 13:00 hrs, not sure for how long and not sure of the re-opening time, we down another real and very strong Espresso (€0.70) and several scrumptious pastries (€0.60) in fifteen minutes, as the bar doors are closing.

Lovely surrounds with an outdoor seating area and great service, as is usual for Italy. It seems that the bars in Italy are run and staffed by males – female staff seem scarce, especially in small villages. Perhaps cities are different.

The first visit – a small feast

I wanted to be stealth-like on this first visit to Parenti, not knowing how long the Citizenship paperwork and interview would take.

As the gentleman at the Comune taking my documents lives near to my relatives, he insists in driving us to their house – he mentions that we’re coming and they’re already expecting us – my cover is blown.

I remember from my childhood years that the custom is to come bearing gifts and as I have nothing, I’m quite embarrassed.

After several hours of drinking homemade Grappa – my cheeky seventy-year old cousin trying to get me drunk – eating homemade Calabrese sausage (just like my parents used to make), wonderful home-grown baked garlic potatoes, and much talking, it’s time to catch the last bus out of Parenti.

Time passed so quickly during this first gathering and feast.

Promising to return and stay for a couple of nights, we wait for the bus with my cousin, which incidentally came about half an hour late. During which time, more of my relatives came out of the woodwork. Word has got around. Many people meet us, hug and chat, whilst we wait – very sweet.

There doesn’t seem to be many young people here and mostly retirees.

Not much to do in this village either but it is on the way to the Sila National park, which is supposed to be very beautiful, so will definitely return. It was a lovely long lunch and afternoon.

In true Italian style, it is all about enjoying food, company, and taking one’s time over very lengthy delicious lunches.

The southern Italians are very warm and hospitable.

You are greeted as if you’ve know them all of your life even though it’s the first meeting. My cousin left me with this:

“The blood is the same regardless of where you are born; it’s still under the skin and this never changes” – I think this is the interpretation as my Calabrese dialect is pretty rusty.

I happen to mention that I have to bring potatoes from Parenti but also locally made Provola Siciliana (cheese) for our friends in Cosenza. Apparently, this type of cheese from here is supposed to be the best. So, my cousin insists on giving us about five kilos of his home-grown potatoes: “the ones in the shops are from Naples at the moment and not good”. Then he kindly takes us to the local Delicatessen for the special cheese.

Weighed down with potatoes and cheese, we wait at the bus stop…not really a bus stop but a spot on the pavement. The bus picks you up from anywhere along the main street.

Everyone seems to come out after 17:00 hrs, stand on the street and just chat…guess there isn’t much else to do here.

Noticing stencils on some external walls in the village, I quickly take a few photos. One is from Benito Mussolini, a legacy of WWII.

I know that in Cosenza these old stencils on walls are heritage listed and cannot be removed. Literally, the stencil has to fade into oblivion before that side of a wall can be repainted or re-rendered.

Benito Mussolini, Parenti, Calabria, italy
Benito Mussolini
slogan, Parenti, Italy, Calabria, Italy
“All Coppers Are Bastards” – anti-police acronym (think this is the meaning of this stencil?)

Back to Cosenza

Finally taking the very late bus back and arriving in Cosenza’s busy Autostationze, stroll or should that be roll down Corso Mazinni.

It’s as if we’re in another city.

A sea of heads mingled back and forth, up and down the mall. Fashionably dressed locals promenading the pedestrian mall during this warm Calabrese evening.

The last time we visited this mall was in the afternoon when everything is shut.

A fired cannon ball wouldn’t have founds it’s mark – it really is that empty during this time – and almost as if we’re in a different city. A different and vibrant feel, much more alive, and now I understand why there are loads of shops in this mall.

With a population of around 80,000 but an urban area of over 268,000 inhabitants, all is now clear. Everyone sleeps during the heat of the day then parties late afternoon and into the night, or until the shops close at 20:00 hrs.

The second visit – a huge feast

As I need to fly back to Australia early September to apply for a 12-month Residency Visa, organise the repair of a badly leaking roof, but also my niece’s wedding, decide on a second visit to Parenti.

This time my cousin has a few days’ notice. I should have known what sort of afternoon would unfold.

One of chatting around the table for hours whilst eating a feast of various courses: pasta, oven-baked rabbit, bean and garlic salad, a selection of delicious cheeses, scented tomato salad, garlic potato and pepper salad, home made wine, homemade Limoncello (liqueur), gelato. And, the food just keeps coming out in true Italian style. Followed by a massive home-baked special traditional chocolate torte and we’re given a quarter to take home and eat for breakfast. I’m listing all these dishes as I’m amazed at just how much food kept appearing on the table…and the quantity we ate.

All home-grown in Parenti and home-made with simple fresh ingredients – lunch is absolutely scrumptious. I must return for cooking lessons of traditional Calabrese feasts.

Parenti also has a smallish Old Town, which we walked up the steep cobbled hill and steps after lunch. As time ran out we didn’t explore too much.

The countryside seems much greener this time and the mountains are gorgeous. The air is a little fresher and crisper.

This is such a beautiful region and can see why my father always longed to return…sadly, he never made it back to Italy.

Back to Cosenza again to get ready to leave Italy.

The third visit – food coma

Returning to Italy, decide to pay my relatives in Parenti another visit.

I should have remembered from the last two wonderful visits, that lunch would be amazing. This time the feast lasted almost five hours with consistent eating, drinking, and chatting.

Wandering into the kitchen after the chef (my cousin, not technically a chef, but should be), a small table is laid full of freshly made green and white Tagliatelle – handmade this morning.

Around the kitchen benches and placed with military precision, rest many plates and bowls for lunch’s different courses. My cousin has been up since 6am cooking.

Tagliatelle, Parenti, Calabria, Italy
Delicious homemade Tagliatelle

Food coma in the making….

We start lunch with a big bowl of the freshly handmade Tagliatelle in a fresh tomato-based sauce, followed by a delicious fried potato, onion, and bacon dish. The succulent oven-baked pork, which my cousins prepare themselves after its slaughter, wrapped around a garlic butter and a little spinach, follows.

This dish is not the last.

Next is a delicately light chicken schnitzel with accompanied with a tomato and cucumber salad, and of course fresh bread. A cheese board arrives. Copious amounts of homemade wine flows during lunch.

Of course dessert is still to come, regardless of whether you’re at the point of exploding or not.

A massive homemade tart together with homemade biscuits, espresso, and homemade coffee liqueur appear – all divine.

How wrong to think, lunch is finished…Gelato to top everything off, naturally.

Returning to Cosenza in what can only be described as a food coma, which lasts the rest of the evening – way too much food but oh so deliciously incredible.


The hospitality here is kind and overwhelming but also humbling. People are so very friendly. You are welcomed with open arms.

Locals that we meet are happy and open to discussing politics, travel, and anything else on their mind.

Everyone is incredulous at how difficult it is for me to gain Italian Citizenship, especially as my father and his family are from Calabria. “Blood is blood and cannot be changed with a piece of paper.” If only this were true…

All are passionate about their country. And love Italy for its beauty and history, but say the politicians are destroying their country. Same world over I guess, and it is up to the people to change the country, as politicians won’t be doing this in any hurry.

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Galleries for more global images. More posts on Italy.

Piaggio Ape, Parenti, Calabria, italy
‘Piaggio Ape’ – produced since 1948. I want one of these…
train, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Waiting to leave…

40 thoughts on “Land of my Father: Parenti, Southern Italy

Add yours

  1. Nilla I loved visiting Parenti with you. Thanks for taking me along. I could taste the food, enjoy the scenery and enjoyed your family’s company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi
      Happy to hear you enjoyed my blog! Think we’re related! 🙂
      My Bisnona was a Vizza and I’m related to the Pascuzzo family. You may also like this blog on Parenti – visited the house my father was born in – very moving.
      Have you visited Parenti?
      Thanks for taking the time to comment – much appreciated.


  2. My great-grandparents were from Parenti. I visited twice but was unable to connect with distant relatives. Although, Mr.Guarcio in the archives tried to contact distant family for us, he was unable to get in touch with them. As he said I looked just like the Venneri’s. Other family names are Minardi, Pascuzzo, Maletta, Rizzuto, Garafola. I look forward to visiting Parenti again in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andrea
      How did you find my post?
      I find it odd that Mr Guaracio couldn’t find any of your relatives in Parenti – perhaps he didn’t try hard enough. 😉
      The reason I say this is that everyone knows everyone in Parenti. My cousin’s last name is Pascuzzo, but he is married to Vizza (same bisnonna as me, I think).
      I’m sure we’ll both get there again…
      Thank you for your comment and please feel free to share my Italy posts with friends and family – there’s 71 articles, many of which are of Calabria.


    2. Hi my grand parents and my dad and his family are all from Parenti. Our last name is Arcidiacono. My grand-mother sister married to Venneri’s with I still see occasionaly but they all moved here to Montreal Canada. My aunt married a Garofalo wich I still have my cousins Garofalo in Italy in Parenti that we talk at least 2-3 times a month . As for Minardi I know a family that here in Montreal from Parenti that are called Minardi that we see occasionaly also Also :). This post touched me so much . Just lost my dad on March 10th 2021 . He went to Parenti on last time with my mom in 2019 .Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Hi Rosie

      How did you come across this post? I’m always interested in how new readers discover my site. 🙂

      It’s odd as my mother’s family used to mention things about the “Venneri” name but mum and her family were from Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia) in the north of Italy. I really can’t remember the conversations as I was quite young and things like that don’t interest children.

      The more posts on Calabria I write, the more I’m amazed at just how many people left the region and Italy for a better life. Although it was tough, many still made it in their newly adopted countries.

      Thank you for the lovely comment – appreciate you taking the time to respond but I’m sorry for the loss of your dad. My dad arrived in Australia in the early 1950s and although always wanted to return to Parenti and see some of Italy, the opportunity never arose for him – very sad. At least your father made it back there… 🙂



    4. I came here looking for information about my great grandparents and their relatives (Malettas) and there I see my last name in your post! So cool to see my uncommon name (here in the USA) mentioned in your post. Wow! My sons and I are heading to the Amalfi coast this summer: our first trip to Italy, but in the future, I’d love to see Parenti.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Hi Keith
      That’s really cool that you found out a little info through my post.
      You’ll love the Amalfi. I’ve been a couple of times now and it’s gorgeous. Check out my posts for tips:
      Gliding along Italy’s Amalfi Coast to Positano and Naples and the dramatic Amalfi Coast
      You should visit Parenti. Typically, everyone misses Calabria and heads straight to Sicily.
      Hope you have a fabulous time! You’ll have to let me know how it goes…
      How did you come across my blog site? I’m always intrigued by how my posts are shared. 😉


  3. Nilla you make everything come to life. I’ve read all the blogs so far from Rogliano, and you make me want to visit the place. I can taste the food. I want to walk through the beautiful old streets and go explore the surrounding mountains. I’ll certainly be exploring the world with you from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie
      Thank you for your kind feedback and happy that I can show you a small part of Calabria.
      Hope that one day you can visit this beautiful untouched region of southern Italy.
      Thanks again


    2. Thanks to your blog Nilla, I can’t wait to get there and to travel the whole region as well.
      From all the valuable information on your blogs I will know exactly what to look out for, and what to visit while there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Each of your posts is so magical..!! My goodness, you know how to hook your readers..!!
    I must admit that this post of yours is the Best one in my opinion..!!
    “Parenti” is the town of your “Parent”.. Oddly homonymous and a bit nostalgic..
    I don’t think this place is famous for any stellar “beach” or “castle” of Italy.. But this is special, very very special..!!

    – “Expect to swerve around the snakelike road at a fast pace (this is Italy)” .. well, I have had a fair share of this experience in Turin. Everything, from Trams to the Metros seem to fly with a bone chilling “acceleration”. Never seen a Metro give out “shockwaves” to its passengers.. 😛

    – Limonchello – If I am not mistaken, Limonchello has its origins in the Alamafi Coast of Italy. Am I right? Nevertheless, I am surprised to know that it is made locally in homes as well.. 🙂

    – Piaggio Ape: I was quite surprised to see one in Italy. I know that Piaggio is an Italian Company. These vehicles are quite common in India.

    I can feel the nostalgia which you might be experiencing when you paid a visit to Parenti.
    I can spend perhaps an entire vacation in this place.

    Wish you all the Best..!! Hope you can get the coveted Italian citizenship and be close to your home.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for such wonderful feedback and so happy you enjoyed this read.
      You’re right, Parenti isn’t on the tourist map at all but is one of the gateway’s to the spectacular Sila National Park.
      It doesn’t seem to matter where in Italy you travel, most locals speed in whatever they’re driving.
      It’s not only Limonchello that’s made in the home. I’ve also tried homemade coffee and chocolate liqueurs – delicious.
      The ‘Ape’ (or similar design) is common throughout SE Asia also as you probably know already. 😉

      Thanks again for leaving me such a great comment and for your well wishes Abir!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Great.. 😊
      Hope you take out your backpack once again and embark upon another journey across the length and breadth of Italy.. Hoping to see more such unknown yet breathtaking places of Italy.. 😊
      Btw, I did hear about Australian beaches as well.. It’s a beautiful country as well.. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Si è si, è possibile. I’m not sure if you read my very long saga Citizenship Blues: The Italian Job? There is another chapter coming as it just gets better.

      Sadly, my father became an Australian citizen before my birth. As Italy didn’t allow dual citizenship until 1992, then it’s a long hard slog for me and contrary to what everyone says here in Italy: il sangue è niente. 😦


  5. Happy to hear you finally made your way home to your ancestral beginnings Nilla and a very enjoyable read. Siesta definitely alive and practiced in those mountain parts of Italy. No wonder those gents in the bar were slow to warm to your visit. Interesting citizenship process you are undertaking. Like myself in a similar situation in my father’s birthplace in Ireland, you surely must have looked down at the floundering and pathways and wondered how many times your father had passed those points. The frescos dating back to the 30s and 40s indicate a more perilous time for the little village of Parenti. This is what travel experiences is all about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jim!
      Yes, just to walk the same streets knowing that my dad walked as a child some 70 years previous is pretty special. It’s such a shame he didn’t get the opportunity to ever return because I know that he longed to come back. I believe that the Calabrese always leave their hearts in Calabria.
      Another turn of events in the Citizenship saga, which I’ll save for another post.


  6. Semplicemente spettacolare e realistico il tuo racconto della mia terra. Rogliano, dove lavoro come capo stazione.Parenti, il mio paese. Il treno della Sila, ho contribuito a crearlo. Tutto il tuo peregrinare mi appartiene. Saluti affettuosi!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grazie per il tuo gentile commento!

      Speravo di poter fare questa regione giustizia perché è molto difficile trovare qualche storia su Parenti e Rogliano online. Scrivo solo i luoghi che ho visitato e cerco di scrivere oggettivamente.
      Sono andato su questo treno meraviglioso e ho scritto un altro post


  7. My grandfather was born in Parenti…and my grandmother. I want to go, I communicate on Facebook with relatives there….I would love to become a citizen of Italy…my mother was born in Matera, Italy…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marylyn, Thank you for commenting. 🙂
      It’s a lovely quiet village. You never know, we may be related!
      Depending on your situation, it could be almost impossible to obtain Italian Citizenship, or not to difficult. Not sure if you’ve read my post on what I’ve been going through so far with regards to Citizenship: Citizenship blues: ‘The Italian Job’


    1. Glad you enjoyed this post!
      Not sure if you saw the Translate Page button (top-right of each post) that translates the post for you – it’s not perfect but, not too bad.
      I first visited Parenti in 1985 then again last year, and can honestly say, the town has hardly changed in over 30 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Eine ganz tolle Geschichte! Herrlich beschrieben. Ich war mit dem Fahrrad an der Küste bis Sizilien. Es hat mir so gut gefallen, dass ich wiederkommen werde. Mit Fahrrad. Grüße aus den Alpen.
    A great story! Beautifully described. I was cycling on the coast to Sicily. I liked it so much that I would return. With bicycle. Greetings from the Alps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danke!
      I’m glad you liked my post and thank you for taking the time to comment – much appreciated.
      I hope to visit Sicily soon, I’ve heard many great stories about Sicily’s beauty so very much looking forward to this trip – just have to organise it… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A spaghetti movie, that was funny x) also I think a bit in Fellini’s work as your adventure goes from one place to another as in a dream. Lovely to see you met lovely persons. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very grateful for your input Francis!

      It was a very funny scene…yes, a Fellini movie but I just need to embellish the scene more 🙂

      Loads of very friendly people here, which is great, especially for newcomers.

      Liked by 1 person

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