Calabria’s charming village of Rogliano and its neighbouring villages in southern Italy is definitely off the beaten track. Rogliano offers the traveller a more genuine and memorable Italian experience.
Rogliano has almost become my second home in Italy, as I often visit good friends in Le Manche, but also during the occasional house-sit. Le Manche is only a couple of kilometres from Rogliano.
Where is Rogliano?
What to see in Rogliano
As Rogliano isn’t well known on a foreigner’s travel route, rest assured that the Roglianese will warmly welcome you, whilst happily sharing an espresso, crispy pastry, and a chat with you about their village.
The main street in Rogliano affords great photo opportunities across the sweeping Savuto Valley, whilst commemorating the local miners and the fallen.
Rogliano’s Centro Storico (Old Town) boasts Medieval arched stone buildings, which are a pleasure to meander through whilst stumbling on the fantastic open-air art museum in the Corso.
Twelve local artists had six hours to create their sculptures – a delight to wander around and admire.
Love all the intricate but sometimes bizarre carvings in ancient alleyways…
…or bronze emblems from the past on aged wooden doors, when taking one’s time to create something unique seemed possible.
A short but steep drive sees you swerving up the hill from the village of Rogliano until you arrive at beautiful Le Manche for stunningly breathtaking vistas and crisp fresh air.
If you’re looking for some shopping, then Le Manche is not for you. No shops exist in this small hamlet. Only sporadic residential homes or rustic holiday huts dot the wooded hills – a paradies. You visit Le Manche to see friends, or to enjoy the clean air, sparkling mountain water, and memorable views.
The Roglianese also take picnics up to the hills during the summer months, as it’s much cooler than in the village.
The area is wonderful for long walks amongst the forest albeit can be a little tough going, as it’s a steep climb to the top at around 800 metres high.
You may also meet Oscar the friendly Italian sheepdog that tends to roam the hills, although he is well looked after.
Back at Casa Maria, a friendly menagerie awaits, with Yassie the inquisitive but apprehensive goat greeting you in her peculiar way…
…and Bruno the miniature pony’s all-seeing eye follows you everywhere.
Bruno’s name should be Saruman from The Lord of the Rings, although he’s a delightful frisky soft brush and not at all evil.
Chickens, rabbits, geese, cats, dogs, and the occasional lodging bat, also make up this crazy Animal Farm, for which I love to visit and housesit.
Sunsets provide a sublime backdrop to an already dazzling panorama.
Winter is stunning in Le Manche.
The Tenuta Bocchineri is a labour of love, a small “Peasant Civilisation” museum created by the welcoming Carmine Altomare.
Situated on the peaceful Bocchineri Estate just a few kilometres from Rogliano, you need to make an appointment to visit.
In the museum’s surrounding area and throughout the estate’s grounds, you bump into quaint curios, which Carmine is hand-crafted from local materials. And, where possible Carmine also combines existing century-old chestnut tree-trunks into his masterpieces.
Salvaged from a poultry house, restored ancient chestnut wood doors are transformed into a storage cupboard for locally-produced wine, which serves as a very useful and attractive showcase.
Tools from a bygone era grace the museum’s walls, reminding visitors of what life was once like in rural Calabria.
Locals still make wines using traditional methods and implements.
The cute tree house on the estate built from local timbers, is to be offered on Airbnb in the future. Fancy a serene setting for a few days away in the country?
The cordoned Oak tree on the left in the following photo is the showpiece at the estate. This tree was granted “Monumental Tree” status by the State and is estimated at over 200 years old.
With only a little more furniture to complete the treehouse, I love how Carmine fully incorporated the tree within the house.
Lovely peaceful picnic areas are dotted throughout the estate, which makes it pleasant just to sit and listen to the birds, or enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on the grounds.
Carmine does hold day functions to educate visitors about what it was like long ago in rural Calabria. On these days, you receive a bottle of locally-made wine, some Calabrese sausage and of course, traditional crusty bread, wrapped up in a linen tea towel.
The day replicates but also captures a moment of what it was like for locals who worked the land. Setting off early in the mornings and not returning home until dark, this wrapped parcel of goodness is all farmers survived on whilst working.
Santa Maria alle Croci Festival
The Santa Maria alle Croci festival held in September this year to honour Santa Maria sees local delicious food stalls, Roglianese taking a passeggiata (stroll) along the cobbled streets, and a concert with Calabrese folk music. Sadly, I don’t remember this band’s name and if anyone does, please let me know so I can include it in this post.
Check out this traditional version of one of the many Calabrese Tarantella. I’d be happy to hear any information about the origins of this song, which you may know…
Day trip from Rogliano
If you are based in Rogliano and feel like a drive for lunch somewhere and you miss the Capo Vaticano turnoff, then continue south to the Ciccio Sul Mare, Santa Maria, Ricadi (province of Vibo), which is a great spot to enjoy delicious food on the beach.
Afterwards, why not pull up a deck chair on the Spiaggia Di Ricardi and relax the rest of the day away?
Whilst you’re in the Vibo Marina vicinity, I highly recommend La Mimosa Pasticceria, which is super busy, serves excellent coffee, and wonderful pastries, but doesn’t skimp on good friendly service. Opened in 1988 so celebrating 30 years of business, surely this is a good enough reason to try La Mimosa?
Alternatively, if you take the train from Cosenza’s Central station, then the journey can take around 50 minutes or longer – you never can tell in this part of Italy, as trains don’t run on time.
Although I love the food created at Casa Maria, there is always the opportunity to savour local restaurants, which I’m still discovering.
If you’re looking for a special meal in a special restaurant in Rogliano that serves excellent local cuisine with excellent service, then L’Antico Savuto is just the place.
At a higher altitude than Rogliano, arriving during the day ensures you can absorb gorgeous Savuto Valley vistas whilst you dine.
At the time of writing in 2018, great local wine is available (€10.50+ bottle), unusual and tasty Antipasto (€8+), pasta with tender pork and artichoke, in a lemon sauce pasta (€10+), and the cover charge is €1.50 per person.
Another delight – delicious mixed juicy grilled meats (€12+).
Ristorante Pizzeria Bella Rogliano
Frequenting this great restaurant many times, and it is definitely worthy of another rave.
I’ve already mentioned the wonderful Pinsa made at this restaurant, which is much lighter than a pizza, so you must try this divine piece of heaven. Not many restaurants make a traditional Pinsa as it is labour and time-intensive.
Returning to Cosenza
Need to return to Cosenza just to go on a diet and detox. I always seem to eat and drink loads when in Rogliano, so much so that I dedicated a whole post to food in Rogliano.