It’s always fun when visitors come to stay in Cosenza and especially during the Christmas period – this time, two American brothers living in Thailand are arriving.
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.
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 schedulled, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I love to wander the lanes of Cosenza Vecchia (Old Town) and never tire of exploring this part of Cosenza.
Each time reveals something new to photograph…
…or experience and for me, it never becomes old – no pun intended.
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.
The views from the hilltop across Cosenza are worth the hike.
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.
As you can imagine, this shopping precinct is chaos this time of year and crammed with too many shoppers.
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: Food and frivolity around Cosenza, Food and frivolity around Cosenza: Part 2, Food and frivolity around Cosenza: Part 3, and another Christmas festivities in Calabria – still many more to write.
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!