Christmas Around Cosenza, Italy

It’s always fun when visitors come to stay in Cosenza, especially during the Christmas period – this time, two American brothers living in Thailand are arriving.

Getting there

Cosenza is harder to get to than popular Rome, Venice, or other well-travelled destinations in Italy, but once you arrive, it’s certainly worthwhile.

The locals are very warm, love visitors, and happy to share all that is Calabrese culture.

Cosenza, Calabria, Italy

The food and wine are amazing, history abundant, and visiting here is cheaper than in the northern part of Italy. There are no tolls on the highways in the South, so another bonus if you own a car or motorhome.

Have I sold you on the idea of travelling to Cosenza yet?

Anyway, back to our visitors…

How we met

Working with Mark back in 2014, we again worked with him for three months in 2016 whilst volunteering at FED – a non-profit organisation in Khao Lak, Thailand, which works with Burmese migrants and in education.

Staying in contact over the last few years, Mark was keen to visit Italy for a few weeks and perhaps to also discover a little of his heritage in Abruzzo, if time permits. Ben (Mark’s brother) also visited for a week before returning to work in Thailand.


Hiring a car for the duration but also as my Image Earth Faces photographic exhibition coincided with their stay, our first visitor arrives by train from Rome on the 19th December.

Little did anyone know that the train from Paola to Cosenza would be cancelled until further notice due to an accident a few week’s ago in one of the tunnels. Even though a train was pre-booked, a substitute bus replaced the train, which no one knew about until actually arriving in Paola.

After a confusing call to confirm an arrival time in Cosenza, the bus arrived not at the main Autostazione, but at the main train station –  a little later than scheduled, but arrived nonetheless at around 22:00 hrs.

At least with Ben’s arrival on the 24th December, we’re prepared for the train’s substitute, although not for his bus cancellation; so arriving even later, he was the only passenger from Paola to Cosenza – Christmas Eve, so a sporadic timetable.

Even though it’s late in the evening, there’s always time for a vino and Antipasti. These hungry travellers from Thailand haven’t eaten freshly baked bread or Italian delicacies for many months.

Christmas day in Rogliano

With another kind invitation to stay in Rogliano over the Christmas break, the four of us set off for a couple of nights to the welcoming Casa Maria in Le Manche, close to Rogliano.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy

Patches of snow still grace the autumnal-coloured shaded hills and also on top of the higher surrounding hills.

This time of year is gorgeous.

Then again, each season brings its own stunning vistas and it’s as if you’re travelling through an ever-changing Italian Renaissance masterpiece.

Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Le Manche’s vista

As expected, Christmas day includes a delicious feast prepared by the amazing Chef, Maria.

Apart from too much drinking and eating not just on Christmas day but during our whole stay, we manage to ply ourselves from food and the dinner table for a fleeting moment to explore a little, but also for a much needed walk.

Christmas lunch, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Pretty Christmas day table set with starters: Seafood mousse with smoked salmon, accompanied with delicious Antipasto.
Roast pork, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Sumptuous roast pork served with crackling, honey glazed carrots, Brussel sprouts, roasted potatoes, ‘Pigs in Blankets’, cauliflower cheese, buttered cabbage, and lashings of real gravy – divine!
Christmas pudding, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Setting alight the delicious pudding made of dates, nuts, and honey, topped with homemade caramel, and sprinkled with nut praline – Maria’s creation!
Broccoli fritters, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
More food – scrumptiously light broccoli and Cavalo Bianco (cheese) fritters

Strolling in the crisp fresh air of Le Manche and Rogliano’s surrounding hills – including up the steep hill close to the house – help to make for a memorable time and to digest all the wonderful food, before the next meal.

 S. Stefano, Calabria, Italy
S. Stefano from Le Manche
Vineyards, Rogliano, Calabria, Italy
Rogliano vineyards

For some respite from eating, we take a look around the area and go for a drive to the neighbouring village of Carpanzano.

I’ve only been to Carpanzano for a few hours one October evening during the Chestnut Festival this year, and liked the village so much that it made me keen to return for some photos during the daylight.


Taking a short drive along the swerving roads – they’re all winding in this region – with beautiful scenery to the small village of Carpanzano to explore and also for an Aperitivo, is always a great way to spend time with friends.

Carpanzano, Calabria, Italy
Stroll through quaint Carpanzano

Destroyed in 1638 by the earthquake and the Brigands, the original villages Carpente and Carpadoro were rebuilt with the new village named as Carpanzaro.

Dating back to the end of the tenth century, the quaint village boasts many gorgeous hilltop vistas, ancient buildings, and cobbled laneways.

With a population of under 400 inhabitants, it’s very quiet but picturesque and pleasurable spending time in Carpanzano. Why not stop for a delicious €5 Aperitivo at the only Bar in the village?

Il Santuario della Madonna delle Grazie, Carpanzano, Calabria, Italy
Beautiful Il Santuario della Madonna delle Grazie

Driving back through the winding roads back-dropped with hilltop villages once more, we reached Le Manche again for a brisk walk, before another culinary wonder from Maria’s kitchen.

At this rate, I will be rolling back to Cosenza five kilos heavier, in just two days!


Always great to introduce new travellers to Cosenza by visiting the Centro Storico (historic centre), Castello Normanno-Svevo (Norman Castle), pedestrian Corso Mazzini, and absorb everything the city has to offer.

Cosenza, Old Town, Calabria, Italy
Afternoon views

Especially around Christmas time, as there is always so much more happening in the city.

Crossing the bridge that separates the old and new part of the city always offers great photo opportunities across the river.

Centro Storico

I love to wander the lanes of Cosenza Vecchia (Old Town) and never tire of exploring this part of Cosenza.

Old Town, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Old Town laundry

Each time reveals something new to photograph…

Old Town, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Laneway chit-chat

…or experience and for me, it never becomes old – no pun intended.

Hand woven, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Artisans hand-woven fabrics

How often do you see a shoe-maker these days?

Cobbler, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Artisanal Cobbler – Old Town

Castle walk

To reach Castello Normanno-Svevo from the city centre, it’s about a good forty-five-minute walk with the last steep stretch up to where the castle sits on top of Pancrazio Hill.

More details about the castle in this post: Food and Frivolity around Cosenza, Calabria.

Castello Svevo, Cosenza, Old Town, Calabria, Italy
Gated vista

The views from the hilltop across Cosenza are worth the hike.

Old Town, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Castle vista looking over the Old Town

Around Corso Mazzini

This festive season saw street performers, musicians, and a couple of independent buskers on Corso Mazzini, which really made for a cultural and festive feel amidst the busy shoppers that hurried by, with no time for anything but shopping.

Christmas, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Some shop owners go to great lengths with lights

As you can imagine, this shopping precinct is chaos this time of year and crammed with too many shoppers.

Violinist, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Talented Corso Mazzini busker
Street performer, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Slow motion street performer
Christmas, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Harry Potter Christmas lights

Another passionate street performer during the Christmas festivities…

If you find yourself in Cosenza, I have quite a few posts that you may want to read…

Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Pagan meets Christianity – Piazza Bilotti

Food and frivolity around CosenzaFood and frivolity around Cosenza: Part 2Food and frivolity around Cosenza: Part 3, and another Christmas festivities in Calabria – still many more to write.

The Palco

Even though it’s chaotic this time of year, there’s always time for some Rock & Roll music at the Palco.

This venue offers good food and great music in a modern ambience. What more could you ask for? To see our friends’ band The Willis, of course!

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

Bus art, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Busart – Alice in Wonderland
Busart, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Busart – other side
Bunny, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Great detail!

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24 responses to “Christmas Around Cosenza, Italy”

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks for the re-blog China – having a great time in Cosenza!

  1. idjourneys Avatar

    Many beautiful trips like this in Italy!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes indeed and I’m still exploring more and more. 🙂

  2. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Great post. Cosenza is such a great city to live in. There are so many great events and quaint towns, like Carpanzano, that have so much character – I may be a bit biased though 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, totally agree but I think we are both biased Lulu. 😉

  3. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Bello. 🙂 Italy in fact is one of the (few) countries where I could easily go live for months and months moving from one place to the other, just watching the light.
    Grazie mille.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Italy is a spectacular and diverse country, and one country that is close to my heart…hence why I’m here.
      You’re Italian is coming along. 😉

  4. gillmorris Avatar

    You certainly live in a lovely part of the world Nilla, loads to see and explore.. Lovely post and it sounds like you had fun with your friends.. Look forward to next weeks post 🙂 x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Gill, there always seems to be something going on here or in the vicinity and try to make the most of all that’s on offer.
      No pressure. 😉 x

  5. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I feel like packing my bags right now and heading over!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Cool! There’s always an event happening and more food to follow 😉

  6. Patty Avatar

    Again, wonderful post. You already convinced me to travel towards Cosenza, but this certainly moves up the trip at my list ‘want-to-travel-to’ 😉

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I hope you do make it to Cosenza one day. There are many villages and towns in Calabria I’d like to see. 😉

  7. travellingsaskia Avatar

    Amazing! Maybe you could check out my travel blog… 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Saskia!
      I’ve just checked through your blog – lovely photos and good travel tips. 🙂

      1. travellingsaskia Avatar

        Thank you very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You are welcome and keep posting – I will check back. 😉

  8. Aixa Avatar

    The food looks so delicious! And the town looks like a lot of fun during the holidays.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, Maria is a wonderful cook!
      Cosenza, most towns and villages have lots of things on during the Christmas season – it’s a lot of fun.
      I have finished the award post but have schedulled it for next Sunday (not this Sunday) and will let you know when the post is published.

  9. flowerywallpaper Avatar

    Mit diesen Fotos hast du meine Sehnsucht nach dem Sommer gestillt. (und das gute Weihnachtsessen!!!). 2018 werde ich den Juni in Battaglia, nördlich von Sapri verbringen. Arbeiten in Agricultura. Freue mich schon…

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! This winter has been mild and no snow in Cosenza.
      I haven’t spent time in Battaglia but maybe one day, I’ll get to this northern town in Italy.

  10. Aman Thakur Avatar


    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Aman!

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