Always so much food and frivolity around Cosenza in Southern Italy’s Calabria region, especially renown for its scrumptious food and wine!
And who better to indulge than me? My ever-expanding waistline is a testament to the amazing food in this region, so if you visit, beware…
There always seems to be something happening in Cosenza. And so, this post is Part 2 and carries on from: Food and frivolity around Cosenza, Calabria
The only issue in Cosenza is that unless you somehow know that an event is on, you can easily miss the frivolity, as nothing or very little seems to be advertised. Everything seems to be dispersed via the verbal Jungle Wire.
International Women’s Day (Festa della Donna)
Wandering around Cosenza, I noticed many small plastic tables and larger stalls filled with gorgeous yellow-coloured flowers.
Apparently this is the flower that’s symbolic for International Women’s Day in Italy, but I’m not sure if the rest of Europe shares the same flower?
Lovely to see the the city dotted with pretty splashes of yellow fluffy Mimosa bouquets, delicately perfumed and wonderful to receive either from a relative, friend, or colleague as a gift.
Fiera di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph’s Fair)
Stumbled upon this fair, which is held each year along Viale Giacomo Mancini around the 15-19th March.
Hundreds of food stalls, road blocks, many police standing around looking fashionable, locals, and loads of visitors stretch over two kilometres.
With roots dating back to 1234 and established by Frederick II of Swabia, this is one of Cosenza’s oldest and most important traditions.
Many artisanal products are on sale, endless variety of cakes and nuts, freshly baked bread, cheese, home-made plump sausage, Salami, clothes, shoes, and just about everything you can imagine, including amusement rides for children.
Live music is also on offer but I haven’t heard any yet. No doubt I will as our apartment is only down the road from the fair.
Typically, “Le Zeppole di San Giuseppe” is a popular and delicious pastry popular in Sicily and Naples during this fair, but is also abundant everywhere throughout Cosenza. The Medieval Arabic origins of zalābiyya meaning fried soft dough is still popular in Egypt today. Simply delicious and light!
St Patrick’s Day at the Bulldog Pub
Of course St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world but not so much in Cosenza.
The 17th March does see some Cosentini make an effort with the colour green splashed around and some Bars pay tribute to this day with decorations.
At €15 for 2 imported beers (600 ml), you’re not going to get drunk at the Bulldog Pub easily, unless of course, you are super rich. Still, it’s a great atmosphere, lovely cosy surrounds, staff are great, and the Guinness is real.
RiartEco 2017 – Villa Rendano
Invited to this unique exhibition on Via Triglio, 21, decided to take up the offer.
Apart from the two floors of excellent exhibits, this gorgeous building dating back to 1871 (relatively young for Cosenza) in front of the Old Town is worth a visit.
The villa’s walls and ceilings are intricately plastered and internal walls adorned with detailed painted artworks.
A beautiful view of Cosenza awaits, from the top of the building.
An innovative exhibition as everything including sculptures are made from recycled components. A nifty concept and amazing what students and artists invented for the exhibition.
Thought I would indulge and write a little section on my birthday in Cosenza…hope you don’t mind?
A decadent sleep-in followed by a wonderful Espresso made by my personal Barista is always a must. A mosey on down in this warm sunny day to the favourite Bar for more coffee, savouries, and delicious freshly-baked pastries. The secret is out (through no fault of mine) and the lovely staff at Matteotti’s added a candle to my pastry, then sang Happy Birthday in Italian. So very sweet.
The evening stroll for dinner took us across the ancient bridge over the Crathis River and on to the Old Town.
Birthday dinner – A Cantina Cosenza (Corso Plebiscito, 4/8)
Always the first at a restaurant as still not used to the Italian late dinner hour – tonight isn’t any different.
Expect to see exposed stoned in this 14th-century building with massive timber low-lying ceiling rafters – very cosy.
A very popular restaurant, which usually sees tables and a BBQ spill out on to the opposite footpath during summer months. You must book in summer, otherwise, you won’t get in. Without a booking tonight, we are still the first ones in as it’s early and so, shown to a small table for 2 next to the ancient wall.
A bowl of homemade Chilli paste awaits, on every table. The fumes accosting one’s nostrils. A basket of freshly-baked bread arrives with the very efficient and friendly purple-haired waitress.
Reeling off a string of dishes of which only half I recognised and with the advice that the Antipasto is ‘quite large’ (in Italian, read huge), ordered only an Antipasto each and one Secondo to share, and of course, wine.
I wasn’t prepared for just how much food arrived.
Many Cosentini we’ve met mentioned commented that “you eat very well at this restaurant”, which I understood as the food is really good.
Apart from a selection of traditional cheese and Prosciutto, small delicate morsels of deliciousness kept arriving. Sauteed Zucchini, caramelised onions, red kidney bean and Tropea onion salad, oven-baked crispy savouries, and just too many others to mention.
Noticing we were struggling, the kind waitress advised we could cancel our Secondo. Deciding to plough ahead but wait some time for the Secondo to arrive.
Lucky we are sharing. Juicy and tender veal roll wrapped around a melting filling of some sort, just not sure what, accompanied with garlic onion sliced potatoes, baked to perfection. Barely able to move after this feast, the waitress cheekily asked whether we would like a little dessert!
All of this feast for the bargain basement price of €15/head. Wonderful ambience, service, and amazing food – I highly recommend this restaurant.
El Mojito alma Cubana
Following my birthday feast, we decided to meet friends at the Mary Jane Pub in the Old Town, but it is so packed tonight that we can’t get in for another 20 minutes. Decided to venture next door to the El Mojito alma Cubana (Piazza dei Valdesi 4/5).
From the moment you walk into this darkish and small restaurant dotted with chequered cloth tables, till climbing the narrow old stairs, and up to “Hemingway’s Room”, an ambience of dim-lit mystery awaits.
This room boasts a small cosy bar with a plethora of alcoholic bottles from around the world. Filled with smoky haze, comfortable lounges with low tables, greets the thirsty patron. Depending on what you order, drinks can be pricy (Rum Cocktails €6.50+, beers €5+) but the barman is great!
The food is supposed to be good at the restaurant downstairs, which offers Cuban, Spanish, and Argentinian cuisines, whilst listening to live music.
As the night is still young, ventured on down to The Palco for a few drinks and some free live music. Always a great stop-over with a great atmosphere; packed out as usual. Excellent birthday all round.
More food in Cosenza
Just when I think I’ve tried almost every Bar or restaurant in Cosenza, more crop up. The options are never-ending, as of course, Italians love their food.
You must try the Aperitivo at this Cafè (via Kennedy 9/10) as you won’t be disappointed. The only drawback is that there’s a 10% surcharge (small print at the bottom of the menu), which isn’t typical in Cosenza.
The excellent €5 Aperi Pranzo (lunchtime) is more than enough for one person and really, two people can share just the one.
The delicious €9 Aperi Cena (evening) is served with many more delicious small dishes and a drink of your choice. Be warned, if you order either one, you may suffer from a Carb overdose as the café is not stingy with their offering.
The waiter first brings out plump juicy olives, crisps, and toasted nuts to accompany your Campari Spritzer with a slice of orange (or other choice of beverage). A stream of goodness in little dishes with all sorts of delights follow: pasta shells, spinach slice, fish frittata, many different savouries in puff pastry, and too many more to list – very scrummy and so very filling.
A lovely way to pass the time away, in true Italian fashion!
Off Corso Mazzini and down Piazza XI Settembre, 150, this chic restaurant serves excellent gourmet Pizza (€6+), good bottles of wine (€12+), desserts, and meals in a slightly rowdy environment, with excellent service.
Cosenza hosts a plethora of shops and then some, especially along the pedestrian precinct Corso Mazzini…it appears that Cosentinis love to shop.
Everyone looks gorgeous sporting the latest fashions and hair styles just as a Milan Catwalk, on the obligatory evening passeggiata (stroll or leisurely walk).
I have to say, I am becoming quite accustomed to the evening passeggiata, especially in the summer and after dinner – very civilised.
This is one of my favourite shops for items but also the excellent service.
On Via Isonzo 41 and as the name suggests, loads of great-priced perfume, make-up, and skin care products for men and women in this store. Staff here are very sweet and chatty; and will order almost anything in for you, if they can.
Each time friends or family stay, we visit this shop as there’s always a bargain to be had.
I’ve written a Part 3 on Food and Frivolity as there is still so much to experience and eat in this city!
A couple more food shots to entice you…