January – September 2017
With an invitation to housesit for a week in Southern Italy’s Rogliano, it’s a chance to see more of untouched and spectacular Calabria.
Calabria’s Sila National Park is home to sweeping hills in the gorgeous undulating Savuto Valley and the quaint village of Rogliano lies snugly surrounded by the valley.
Not many foreigners visit Calabria so you can escape the hoards and experience the warm Calabrese hospitality on your visit.
It also helps that when you have wonderful friends that live in Le Manche – only a mere couple of kilometres up a steep hill from Rogliano, which makes visiting Casa Maria, a highlight in anyone’s stay.
Delightful housesitting in Rogliano
More like a country resort or retreat, complete with a lovely pool, who wouldn’t stay and enjoy housesitting at Casa Maria?
As our friends are taking a break for a week in Sicily, we are staying at their beautiful home looking after their menagerie: 2 cats, 2 dogs, a pony, a peacock, chickens, rabbits, bunnies, and 2 goats.
Apart from the chickens and rabbits, all the animals have names of course and are like children.
After seeing the guys off in the morning, we are left to our own devices and hope like hell that we won’t lose any family members, whilst Under New Management.
Warned of his trick in advance, Rocky the older dog is feeling sorry for himself at being left behind. And so, feigns a limp (an old car injury) for a little while, before realising his attempt does not make a difference on the new management.
Sally, the younger dog, is an affection tart and doesn’t care who gives her loads of affection or food for that matter – it’s all the same to her, the little cherub.
All the family members have their own great and cheeky personalities, which we have grown to know and love over the week.
Bruno the miniature pony, is full of mischief when not being fed. Although during feeding time, nothing can stop him from his eating mission – and I can brush him without any problem, whilst he slowly munches away at his food. Although, I discovered rather alarmingly, that he is a frisky little devil in the afternoons and dusk…I won’t go into that little issue!
The house-sitting week passes much too quickly as we indulge in copious amounts of puppy and animal love not to mention exploring Rogliano.
Many trips to Rogliano throughout this year to catch up with friends, continue on a wonderful steam train trip (Il Treno della Sila) through the Sila National Park, and a bus trip to the Amalfi Coast.
Loads of fun and a great way to see Italy. Not to mention the scrumptious food that’s either prepared for us at Casa Maria or enjoyed when venturing to Rogliano’s great and inexpensive restaurants.
Food in Santo Stefano
As Santo Stefano is only the next village over from Rogliano so not too far, decide to sample some of the delights also on offer in this tiny village.
Il Nuovo Cacciatore Ristorante e Pizzeria
On Via Nazionale, 15, lies this wonderful and loud large family restaurant. Don’t expect a quiet tête-à-tête romantic dinner here – it won’t happen.
The food is excellent and not over-priced with good pizza, amazing speciality meat dishes, and much more. Everything including the wine is made in-house using the best of local produce. Expect great service from the restaurant’s friendly staff.
When you think you’re too full even forgoing dessert, the owner insists we try his speciality sweet: Chestnuts drenched in a locally made rum liqueur. Enjoying the liqueur, the chestnuts are a little dry for me…still, it’s a lovely gesture and probably because we’re with our local friends.
Sadly, on this evening though, a set of Exorcist twins sat next to our table, and bent on screaming their lungs out – they wouldn’t let up. If I hadn’t been with our friends, I would have said something to the parents who were not controlling the tantrums.
Just a quick trip to Santo Stefano on Via Nazionale, is the excellent Dolce Café, which serves wonderful freshly-made Zeppole (€1) and excellent coffee (€1+). Many more pastries and cakes are freshly made on the premise, for your delectation.
Only opened a few years, the décor is modern and the staff are great in this very busy café.
The double-carriage train is scarcely available, which is a shame as this is quite new and fresh but seems to only run during festival times when patrons are many.
If you’re starting from Cosenza’s Central train station, then an old rickety graffiti-splattered train chugs slowly until you reach Rogliano.
Not a speedy diesel train, although, the half-hour journey travelling through beautiful mountainous countryside gives you plenty of time to absorb your surroundings. Lush green forests and deep valleys of the Savuto canvas stunning vistas.
Cosenza fades away in the distance…
…and all that’s heard is the diesel’s engine and bogies churning away through the forest, which gives you time to ponder.
If you asked me 10 years ago whether I would see myself living in Italy, I probably would have laughed at you. As an Australian, it’s difficult to stay in Italy for more than 90 days in any 180-day period. Read about what I have been going through for a visa: Citizenship blues: The Italian Job
These are the kind of thoughts that cross my mind during this short train trip.
Travelling through the various seasons provides a wonderful ever-changing and colourful backdrop around every hill that’s turned…
Tip: Trains from Cosenza run on 2 different timetables during the year. The changeover for summer is from July to September and typically, fewer trains are scheduled.
My grandmother was born in the village of Rogliano, so my roots belong here – similar to my father’s village Parenti, only a short 25-kilometre crazy bus ride into the mountains from Rogliano.
Rogliano boasts around 6,000 residents and although quaint, is bustling with many restaurants, coffee shops, museums, shops, and the gorgeous medieval Old Town. Check this article for more details on Rogliano.
Returning to Cosenza
Southern Italy really is a region of extreme temperatures.
From experiencing the coldest winter Cosenza had in 72 years this January, to the hottest August on record for a very long time, Cosenza’s heatwave has me melting, especially after returning from Rogliano’s slightly cooler climes.
In August, the temperature here reminds me of SE Asia, albeit not quite as high in humidity, but this is climbing daily. August 2016 wasn’t this warm. Typically, Rogliano is a few degrees cooler, but even in this village, it’s also balmy this year.
The unusual number of bushfires this season have scarred the beautiful mountainous landscape, which I hope will recover with the coming rains.