Visiting quaint Rogliano, Southern Italy

January – September, 2017

On the way to the spectacular Sila National Park and nestled amongst sweeping hills in the Savuto Valley, lies the quaint village of Rogliano in Calabria, Southern Italy, which is not frequented by many foreign tourists…

…so you are assured of a genuine and warm Calabrese experience on your visit.

It also helps that I’ve made wonderful friends that live in Le Manche – a mere couple of kilometres up a steep hill, from Rogliano, which makes visiting Casa Maria, a highlight in anyone’s stay.

Rogliano, Southern Italy, CalabriaTravel by train

If you’re lucky, you may get to travel on a double-carriage train. This is a much newer train and in use when festivals and fairs such as the St Joseph’s fair is on in Cosenza, as these events draw many people to the city from neighbouring villages and region.

Typically, from Cosenza’s Central train station the rickety old one-carriage graffiti-splattered train (€2.40), whisks you around the hills to Rogliano. Well perhaps ‘whisk’ isn’t quite the right word and ‘chugs’ is better, as you travel on a diesel train.

The journey takes about half an hour, travelling through beautiful mountainous countryside and forests, whilst you steadily climb the surrounding deep valleys.

I love this little trip to the mountains – it’s quite special and never tire of the view. And, always reminisce as to what this area must have been like when my father and his family grew up here, shame I didn’t ask more questions when he was alive.

Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Energy drink at Cosenza’s cafe

You never seem to ask questions about your parent’s heritage whilst growing up, so all that history and experience is lost forever once they’re gone.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
One of the older trains at Rogliano station

The more time I spend in Calabria and meeting wonderful southern Italians, the more I want to learn about this region.

Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, Rogliano
Leaving Cosenza

Everywhere has it’s ups and down, and I’m not saying this area is perfect, but it has been good to me so far and I’m enjoying living here.

If you asked me 10 years’ ago whether I’d 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 an 180-day period. Read about what I’ve had to go through for a visa: Citizenship blues: The Italian Job

These are the kind of thoughts that cross my mind during this short train trip.

Rogliano, Cosenza, Calabria, italy
Bird’s eye view through the hills

I am lucky to travel through the various seasons, which provides a natural ever-changing and colourful backdrop – one more beautiful than the last.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
En-route…

Tip: Trains from Cosenza run on 2 different timetables during the year. The changeover for summer is from July to September and typically, less trains are scheduled.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Rogliano’s train station

Rogliano

Rogliano is the village where my grandmother was born, so I feel that my roots belong here, similar to my father’s village (Parenti), which is about a short 25-kilometre crazy bus ride into the mountains from Rogliano.

In these small isolated villages during my grandmother and father’s times, I’m told that babies were delivered in their homes and not in hospitals. Typically, this was by a neighbour with some experience and a stand-in midwife. Lighting was scarce. Life was very basic and rustic.

Today however, Rogliano boasts around 6,000 residents and although quaint, is bustling with many restaurants, coffee shops, museums, shops, and the medieval Old Town.

Rogliano, Calabria, italy
Donato Morelli – participated in the Calabrian uprising of 1848

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.

Sights

Meandering the streets of Rogliano and stopping for an espresso or an Aperitivo is wonderfully relaxing. The people-watching is also great. I love Rogliano’s village feel and Old Town.

A little walk up the hill from the train station, will have you strolling the Corso (main street) with many little authentic bakeries, delicatessens, bar and gelato stops.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
The Corso

Once you visit the Corso and especially if you stop and meet a few locals along the way, if and when you return, you will be remembered.

Even though my Italian is improving, I don’t really blend in with the locals here or in Italy for that matter, and especially in small villages.

Perhaps it’s because my grandmother was from this village and this spot resonates with me, but I can understand the locals speaking the dialect (mostly), which incidentally, is a little different to the Parenti dialect.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Ancient character

An open-air street art museum with life-size sculptures grace Rogliano’s Corso alleyways, which is worth taking in on your stroll, but more on that later.

The Old Town

Following a powerful earthquake, the original village was re-built to its current position, which dates back to medieval times (1300-1400). Still in tact and not having suffered the wraths of historical wars, a visit to Rogliano’s Old Town is a must.

Rogliano, Calabria, italy
Aged lanes

Climbing up and down the narrow cobbled alleyways, will leave you wanting to stop for a snack and rest.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Keeping time after centuries in the Old Town

Open-air art

A leisurely stroll along the Corso’s narrow alleyways and it’s not long before you bump into twelve intriguing sculptures made from either wood, stone, or iron.

Rogliano, Calabria, italy
Wooden female

The sculptures were completed during six days and artists only had six hours to complete their piece as the worked was ranked.

Rogliano, Calabria, italy
Another viewpoint

A few of the sculptures look as if it took more than six hours to complete.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy, sculpture
Stone sculpture – this local insisted that I take his photo
Rogliano, Calabria, Italy, sculpture
Wooden sculpture
Sculpture, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
My favourite – intricate iron grapevine

Food in Rogliano

Spending loads of time in Rogliano and also house sitting for a week, goes hand-in-hand with sampling Rogliano’s culinary delights…and delights there are many.

Although nothing beats our friend’s famous and scrumptious dishes made with loving hands and true Italian food obsession, picking fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, cooked and straight onto the table.

Ristorante Pizzeria Bella Rogliano

A group of us went to this restaurant that makes the only ‘real’ Pinsa in the village and what an incredible experience devouring this delicious dish!

A Pinsa is a type of pizza that I haven’t tried before, never really heard of until I arrived here (I hear echoes of heathen).

A Pinsa is made with three different types of flour and is proved for around 150 hours in the fridge.

You cannot believe how light and fluffy this type of pizza is – simply divine. I urge everyone to try a Pinsa.

Ristorante Pizzeria La Lanterna

Newly opened on Vico Donnanni snc with owners eager to please. Perched on a higher part of Rogliano, the views from the outside seating area stretch across the picturesque and undulating Camminella Valley.

Enter inside to be greeted with a very tasteful and fresh modern décor, which invites a cool atmosphere.

The Antipasto (€6+) and Pizza (€3.50+) are simply delicious and servings are plentiful. The usual beverages are available as is bottled and house wine. Eat your excellent pizza whilst enjoying great service in this noisy but fun ambience.

Slainte Irish Pub

Walk along Corso Umberto to discover this quiet pub in Rogliano – well it was quiet until our rowdy group rocked up.

Surrounded by exposed ancient stone walls and a low heavy-timbered ceiling, you feel as though you’re thrown back in an old English pub from the medieval period.

The blinding difference is the cost and strength of the drinks though – extremely cheap at €6 for 3 rums and one liqueur, accompanied by nibbles. All of this makes for a very pleasant experience, with lovely and friendly staff thrown in.

Bar Gelateria Misaggi

Stop along Via Antonia Guarasci, 18/20 for excellent coffee, pastries (€1.20+), service, and Aperitivo. This is a great breakfast stop for the obligatory café and Brioche, especially on a Sunday morning. At this time, local Roglianese flock and parade along the streets chatting the morning away, before speeding back home like a puff of wind for a leisurely Pranzo (lunch).

Pasticceria “Colosseo”

On Via A De Gaspei, 1/A-1/B, this lovely bar offers excellent coffee (€0.80+) and wonderful baked-on-site pastries (€0.50+). Give this bar a go if you’re in the neighbourhood – it’s worth the stop.


Food in Santo Stefano

As Santo Stefano is only the next village over from Rogliano so not too far, decided to sample some of the delights on offer here also.

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 (€6+), amazing specialty meat dishes (€8+), 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 specialty 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 think this is 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.

Dolce Café

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 staff are great in this very busy café.


House sitting in Rogliano

More like a country resort or retreat, complete with a lovely pool, who wouldn’t stay and enjoy house sitting 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.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
House sitting – home for a week

Apart from the chickens and rabbits, all the animals have names of course, and are like children.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Another view, another season

After seeing the guys off in the morning, we are left to our own devices and hope like hell that we won’t loose any family members, whilst ‘Under New Management‘.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Divine ever-evolving oil painting

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.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy, dog
A sleeping Rocky

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.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy, dog
Sally waiting for more cuddles…

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.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
More animal love…

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.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Italy at Image Earth Travel.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Stunning vista
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28 thoughts on “Visiting quaint Rogliano, Southern Italy

Add yours

  1. We are excited to visit southern Italy but we want to wait until we can get some vacation time in autumn to avoid those extreme temperatures you talk about. Your photos are always so beautiful and your posts so informative.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have created a YouTube channel related to my Heritage and have also started blogging on WordPress. I would appreciate all of the help, advice, and followers that I can gather! Also, subscribe on WordPress and YouTube (click the bell icon for all notifications) to get free Italian lessons and to learn about culture, and other great things I can show you!

    Thank you. My name is Christopher, TheItalianGuru.

    https://theitalianguru.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/about-me/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am in love with Southern Italy. I would settle there after I retire with no hesitation. Your family history trip is very encouraging – I have been hanging on your every word, and I can see myself walking through the old town and eating ll those divine pizzas. Thank you for posting your travel journal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the lovely feedback Inese and hope that my posts encourage people to travel down this way.

      I need to get moving and finish all my 8 posts I have in Draft, as I have many more new ones to write yet! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, this region is really only popular with local tourists.

      Drove to Sicily last month and spent about 10 days in Siracusa but it was still busy with too many tourists for my liking. It seems that many foreign tourists are visiting Italy this year as a result of all the terrorism issues in other European countries, so you better visit soon. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for the advice, dear Nilla.
      Living in Europe (Being Dutch (The Netherlands, and living in Germany for the last 4 years) I kinda know when to go… But, in a view weeks traveling to North-West Spain first 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! I love Rogliano and have spent a lot of time there because my dad’s town is nearby. As I was scanning the pics of the art on the Corso I thought to myself, I wonder if she took a pic of the grapevine? and then I saw it – it’s one of my favourites too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suz.

      It’s not a vineyard but vines that are scattered around our friend’s property. The grapes are deliciously wonderful!
      Yes, it is an old part of Italy and not on the tourist path, which is always a bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

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