Thinking of a day trip whilst in Cosenza? Then why not venture to intriguing Roseto Capo Spulico in Calabria…
Just a warning if you don’t have your own transport it’s a challenge getting to Roseto Capo Spulico (mouthful, so I’ll use Roseto from now on) from Cosenza – especially outside of the July and August summer months.
Bleary eyed and wanting an adventure, today I wait at 06:15hrs for the 06:45hrs Saj bus. The Cosenza Autostazione information booth advises this is the time the first bus leaves.
This time comes and goes, but the scheduled bus doesn’t arrive. Another bus arrives a little later.
The driver advises that a 06:45 bus doesn’t exist for Roseto and either I take this bus and change at Trebisacce or wait until 10:00hrs for a direct bus. I don’t have data on my phone so can’t check any map.
I take his bus not knowing if I’m going to get to my destination today.
Magical mystery tour
Around 3.5 hours later crossing from Calabria’s west to east coast and 2 bus changes, I finally arrive. Typically, this journey only takes 1.5-hours from Cosenza.
Today I change buses at Trebisacce and again in the small seaside town of Marina di Amendolara before arriving in Marina di Roseto Capo Spulico.
As with all of Calabria, you have to know what bus line services the exact area. The problem is trying not only to find out the company but when you finally find the company, you can’t find any scheduled information.
Marina di Amendolara
The connecting bus from Trebisacce drops you off close to the train station at Marina di Amendolara.
Apart from a few Bars, market stalls, and the train station along this strip of busy road, I don’t see much of interest but then, I’m just waiting for my next bus.
Marina di Roseto Capo Spulico
A bus arrives and after 10 minutes, drops me off at what seems like in the middle of nowhere along the road in Marina di Roseto Capo Spulico.
Walking along the busy highway I don’t see any buses or taxis along this 500-metre stretch.
Passing a couple of bars and produce shops…
…head down to the sea and the castle’s sign is on the right – it’s around a kilometre or so walk to the castle.
Eventually, you pass a solitary rock – ‘anvil stone’ – in the crystal waters of the Ionian shoreline. This unusual rock is renown locally as the ‘mushroom of the castle’ because of its shape.
From this rock, it’s not far until you start to ascend to the impressive Castrum Petrae Roseti (castle) straddled on the cliff face of the Promontory of Cardone.
Tempted to hitch to the castle, I decide to walk instead as it’s such a lovely warm day.
Stop off to absorb the dramatic expansive views as you ascend finally…
…to the castle’s impressive aged gate.
The small seating area outside the gate is a great spot to catch your breath or to frame a shot before entering.
Castrum Petrae Roseti
Once in the gate of “Castle of the Stone of Roseto” you can wander the small castle’s grounds for free. If you wish to enter the castle, then purchase your ticket (€5 – a guide costs extra) at the castle’s cafe.
A little history
Founded on San Vitale da Castronuovo’s monastery Petrae Roseti from the 10th century, the castle dates back to the 11th century and built during the Norman period – then re-built in the 13th century by Emperor and King of Sicily: Frederick II of Swabia.
Defending the Cosonian’s high Ionian coast, this strategic castle marked the border between the County of Sicily Robert Guiscard’s lands and his brother Ruggero II.
Ruggero was father of Costanza d’Altavilla – Kingdom of Sicily’s heir and mother of Frederick II Hoheustaufen. You’ll understand how all of this ties in later.
During the 13th century and not far from the castle the small stone village of Roseto was perched on another hill – known today as Roseto Capo Spulico.
Vistas up to the village from the castle’s tower remind me of the long walk ahead – there are no buses or taxis along this road.
The castle’s internal chambers are well-preserved and retain a glimpse into a past life with still intact period paintings, decor, and heavy woodwork.
Cold etched stone walls, floors, and ceilings, shape grand halls…
…and intimate corners, allowing the mind to wander – today I’m the only visitor.
The becalmed Ionian Sea is visible from most windows.
This ancient fortification has absorbed more captivating history during centuries of its existence.
Castrum Petrae Roseti’s Templars
Sprinkled around the castle are Lilies and the Rose emblems, denoting the Temple of the Order.
Already a Temple of the Order during the 13th century, Frederick II from the Knights Templar ordered the castle’s return as retribution for the Order’s betrayal during the 6th crusade to the Holy Land.
Recent studies indicate that the Holy Shroud would have been kept at the castle.
Roseto Capo Spulico
Following the visit to the castle it’s time for the long ascent to the village of Roseto Capo Spulico, some 3 kilometres away.
The naming of Roseto (rose) was after the roses cultivated throughout rose gardens during the 10th century. Self-indulgent Rosetans used rose petals to fill pillows and mattresses on which to sleep – decadent luxury.
What to see?
Thick medieval stone walls embrace an authentic village, which sees you stepping back through the door of time and into the Old Town.
The village is a pleasure to explore albeit deathly silent as just about every store is closed. It’s around lunch time and most shops won’t open again until late this afternoon.
In contrast to many opulent churches in Italy, the church of San Nicola di Bari is unadorned and modest.
Centro Storico (Old Town)
The serenity in the Old Town is wonderful for taking photos and absorbing the surrounds.
Antique stone carvings pop out from around a corner.
The profound blue autumn sky backdrops whitewashed buildings and fluorescent pink bougainvillea petals.
Spotting a poem by Nicola Trebisacce inscribed on steps…
I love the star that is in front of me
tonight I catch it in my fist
Today it’s reflected on my chest
I decide, I want to dive
in the blue water of the sea (of its eyes)
Hidden timeworn arches enclose fragments of village life.
Vico degli Innamorati (Lovers Lane)
Claimed as the narrowest alley in Europe, when lovers kiss in this lane it brings the couple good luck.
You can be forgiven for missing this very narrow path – I had to ask a local for directions.
Monumenti ai Caduti
If you have time, there is a monument to the fallen from WWI and WWII, which is placed so that it looks out across to the sea – a shame I didn’t see this today.
Roseto is renown for its wonderful cherries, extra-virgin olive oil, sausage, Soppressata (dry salami), and Pitta Liscia (rustic bread).
As one of only two bars open right now: “you’re too late, summer is over and we’re in winter now” – but it’s only September – I venture into this quaint tiny bar on via Niccoló Converti.
Chatting to the friendly owner, his mother, and other locals, the mother is eager for me to try many traditional local delicacies. Ordering a Spritz and ciabatta, which is made from the Pitta Liscia, I’m also handed a bowl of salami and snacks.
The baker arrives with a couple of different freshly-baked Pitta Liscia. The vivacious Calabrese mother hands me a large slice stuffed with anchovies but also wants me to try another type – I’m heavy with bread and can’t eat another thing.
I’m thinking of the long walk back when the older chap previously drinking in the bar returns and advises he organised a lift back to the bus stop if I wanted to leave soon. How very kind of this gentleman. Spending a lovely time here teaching a couple of locals about Australia, it’s time to catch my lift.
Is Roseto worth the hassle?
Definitely as the views, castle, old town, and people are fabulous.
I would like to return to Roseto as it feels as if I’ve been on buses most of the day and not really had a chance to explore everything. Life is so much easier with your own car, as surprisingly for a tourist destination buses are woeful.
If you decide to take the plunge and travel by bus from Cosenza outside of July and August, then expect long delays, sporadic bus hours, no public transport information, and long journeys to travel the 105 kilometres.
When to visit
As the summer in Roseto commences on the 21st of May, each day sees a continuation of cultural theatrical, musical, and artistic shows.
The elderly gent kindly organised the lady from the Tabacchi in Roseto’s old town to take me to the Marina di Roseto’s bus stop, to catch the scheduled 14:10hrs bus to Cosenza. Everyone knows that this is the correct time so I trust the locals, which go out of their way to help you.
As 14:10hr comes and goes without a bus, I ask a local walking by about the Cosenza bus, and is kind enough to phone a couple of relatives to confirm bus times, as basically you are stranded.