Cosenza Day Trip: Gorgeous Pizzo Calabro

Nestled in the slopes of the Vibo Valentia province in Southern Italy, gorgeous Pizzo Calabro is an easy day trip from Cosenza. Why not stop for Pizzo’s famous Tartufo on your visit?

Evocative Pizzo Calabro offers more than the delectable Calabrese ice-cream truffle – the Tartufo…

Getting there

Pizzo, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, EuropeFrom Cosenza, it’s an easy hour’s drive south on the Autostrada to Pizzo – it usually takes a good 10-15 minutes to get out of Cosenza city.

If you’re driving from Lamezia Terme airport, it’s only a short drive of under half an hour, or you can catch a train to Pizzo.

Leaving the highway and parking along the top part of Pizzo is easier than getting your car in and out of the town’s narrow depths. Along the SS18 Tirrena Inferiore is a good place to park not just for the stunning sea views, but also for the walk down through the old town (Centro Storico).

Centro Storico

Strolling down the narrow alleyways along via M. Salmone, this height surrenders views of the lovely Centro Storico…

Old Town, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

…and Pizzo before flowing down to an expansive panorama of the impressive Tyrrhenian Sea.

Tyrrhenian Sea, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Calming vistas are breathtaking along the 8-kilometre-long coastline, with tiny piazzas and balconies overlooking the sea.

Tyrrhenian Sea, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Descending along via Bella Vista you finally reach cobbled Corso Garibaldi, where pot plants from shop owners spill out onto the street, a fishmonger’s cabinet full of fresh fish sits on the footpath, and many fancy shops line this street.

A little background on Pizzo

This small medieval town started its beginnings as a fort, fishing village, and a community of Basilian monks back in 1300.

During previous centuries and until the 1970s, fishermen spread nets along Pizzo’s beaches to capture tuna fish – a practice which is now banned. Modern tuna fishing is practised today during certain months of the year.

Tyrrhenian Sea, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Through the ages pirates used sea caves dotting this coastline, with one in particular “the cave of the Saracen” believed to be used to store booty and captured people following raids along the Calabrian coast.

Pizzo’s origins date back to Ancient Greek and famed as one of the resorts in which Cicero stayed. On his journey to Rome this is where St Peter rested, but also where Ulysses stopped for supplies as reported by Pliny the Elder – Roman author.

Behind the name

Pronounced just like pizza but with an ‘o’ – except for in the local dialect it’s “pizzu” – the word Pizzo translates as a bird’s peak or a protruding point.

Close to the mouth of the Angitola River, the tuffa (limestone) promontory does protrude out to sea in beak-like fashion.

What to see?

Visiting picturesque Pizzo in Autumn sees a welcomed lack of tourists to this renown resort town, so it’s lovely and peaceful along the Costa degli Dei (Coast of the Gods).

Ape, Tyrrhenian Sea, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Castello Murat

Dating back to the 15th century and built by Ferdinand I of Aragon, ironically the castle is named after Napoleon’s brother-in-law Joachim Murat – also King of Naples for seven years.

Castello Murat, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

After trying to regain power, Murat was tried for treason, imprisoned in the castle for a few days before meeting his fate by firing squad in the castle’s main hall, in 1815.

The castle also houses the Provincial Museum Murat.

Castello Murat, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

A large life-like mural graces one wall close to the castle…

mural, Castello Murat, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Piazza Della Repubblica

Whilst at the castle, stop in for a Tartufo and a coffee in this main piazza, which is a popular meeting point for locals that boats many restaurants, gelaterias, and bars.

S. Francesco di Paola

Along via Marcello Salomone, another pleasant square hosts the dazzling S. Francesco di Paola church that overlooks another part of the fabulous Tyrrhenian.

Dating back to the 16th century, this church was built as a thank you for escaping an awful plague epidemic that struck the city.

S. Francesco di Paola, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Near the church’s entrance an engraved stone plaque weathers on the facade. Depicting a scene from years gone by during Calabria’s famine – during this time, many Calabrese migrated to other parts of the world for a better life just as my father went to Australia.

carving, S. Francesco di Paola, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

An old poster from 2013 still graces the church’s laneway…

S. Francesco di Paola, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

…whilst a bronze tribute to the Italian politician Pasquale Ferrara, peers through the foliage making its statement.

Pasquale Ferrara monument, S. Francesco di Paola, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Chiesetta di Piedigrotta

When visiting Pizzo, you must see this underground cave – the Chiesetta di Piedigrotta.

Neapolitan shipwreck survivors carved the church and a chapel into the tufa (limestone) rock back in the 17th century as promised for their survival from the violent storm. The sailors also hung the effigy of the Madonna of Piedigrotta from the ship’s cabin in the cave’s chapel.

Angelo Barone a local artist started to make the cave larger using a pickaxe in 1880 and sculpting religious statues into the rock – dedicating his life to this task until his final days.

Sculptors continued to add to the collection –  you may also spot the John F Kennedy and Fidel Castro sculptures in the cave.

Sadly, we ran out of time to see the cave today but I’m told that the best time to visit is when the sun sets, as the rays cast a glow over the cave and said to be wonderfully captivating.

Street scenes

Weaving up and down the narrow cobbled lanes open to quaint piazzas with commanding views…

Chess, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

…revealing vantage points of enchanted cosy coves below.

Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

You may come across this more modern marble carving…does anyone know its significance?

Bird marble sculpture, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

If you’re staying in Pizzo at around sunset, then the view from “U Spuntuni” is also fantastic…

Now for the Tartufo…

What is a Tartufo? An ice-cream truffle – a large ball of wonderfully smooth gelato filled with molten chocolate to ignite your senses.

Pizzo is world-famous for its Tartufo, which originated in this town.

Tartufo, Pizzo, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Two ice-cream flavours are sculptured together by hand, then a hole is poked in the centre to push frozen fruit, a syrup, both, or pure chocolate syrup into, before forming a ball or log – then rolled in cocoa (resembling a truffle) and frozen once more.

History of the Tartufo

So now, perhaps you’re wondering how the sublime Tartufo was born?

Dating back to around 1952, the shape was created in the Bar Dante by sheer chance, when Don Pippo De Maria was shaping ice-cream for many wedding guests and ran out of molds. This triggered De Maria to place a portion of chocolate ice-cream and Heizel ice-cream in his hand, adding a little melted chocolate before wrapping this creation in sugar paper, and leaving this to cool.

When the maestro of the Tartufo De Maria retired, Giorgio Di Lorgi took over the business as he worked in Dante making ice-cream since 1950, then some 15 years later opened the Bar Ercole.

In search of the best Tartufo

Today we hunt for the Bar Gelateria Ercole – Pizzo Calabro. The Bar Ercole is closed, so make sure that you don’t visit on a Wednesday.

At around 2 minutes into this video by DIIORGI shows how the Tartufo is made at Ercole.

Desperate to try a Tartufo, we head for the Gelateria Belvedere in Piazza della Repubblica.

This bar provides excellent service, a wonderfully rich Tartufo (€5.50+) and great coffee (€1.50+). Relax in one of the comfortable outdoor chairs in true Italian style, whilst watching the world stroll by before leaving this delightful town…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy.

50 responses to “Cosenza Day Trip: Gorgeous Pizzo Calabro”

  1. Abirbhav Avatar

    Terrific..!! Splendid..!!
    Your posts are compelling me to stop everything and take the next flight to Italy..
    The location and scenes are picturesque, which is a norm for Italy.. The icing on the cake is the food.. 😀 Delectable..
    Got to learn about Tartufo.. 🙂 Adding this to the list of the Italian foods to have the next time I visit Italy..
    Thank you Madam for sharing..!!
    Thank you for stopping by and checking my blog as well.. Would love to hear your thoughts or feedback as well.. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your excellent feedback and I’m happy that I’m compelling you to visit Italy!
      The Tartufo is scrumptious. I’m sure you’ll love indulging in this delicacy.
      Visited your wonderful blog and left you a comment. 🙂

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        You are welcome Madam.. 🙂
        Point noted with pleasure.. Tartufo is on my list of foods to have in Italy..!!
        It is so nice of you to comment on my blog.. Didn’t receive the notification though, checking on it.. 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Let me know if it comes through and check your Spam and Trash folders. I’ve had a lot of problems with ‘real’ comments going into these WP folders.

      3. Abirbhav Avatar

        Well, I don’t think I have any spam folder for WP.. But strange to know that WP has bugs like these which they seem to be unable to fix..
        Anyways.. you can post your comment as a reply to this, if that is OK with you.. 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s very strange as I commented on a couple of posts.
        Yes, if you click Comments in your WP Dashboard, at the very top of the page there are a bunch of links of which one is Spam and one is Trash.

      5. Abirbhav Avatar

        Quite strange.. Checked the dashboard, but the readings show zero comments for today.. No mention of spam or trash.. There is a serious bug.. Let me write to WP..

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Please do as I left 2 more comments. Do you see my likes? I’ve also clicked “Like” in the posts.

      7. Abirbhav Avatar

        Well, I did find your Likes though..!!
        Thank you so much for taking the time to check them.. Glad that you found them good.. 🙂 🙂

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No problem but weird you don’t have my comments.

      9. Abirbhav Avatar


  2. gillmorris Avatar

    You live in such a beautiful part of the world Nilla and its so fascinating to learn about its colourful history! 🙂 xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Gill, I have to agree with you and it’s still relatively untouched by the influx of tourists like in the north – this is what I really love about Calabria. 😉 x

    2. Jenny Kelly Avatar

      We have stayed in Pizzo several times & love everything about this village especially the people. The beaches are beautiful , clean & uncrowded. The restaurants & cafes offer fabulous food & the tartufo is to die for.

      1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hi Jenny,
        Pizzo is a lovely town and always take family and guests when they’re over. It’s one of those towns that has everything you need.
        Appreciate you taking the time to comment. 🙂

      2. gillmorris Avatar

        I’m booking a flight based on your comment Jenny! It sounds perfect!

      3. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent Gill!
        If it interests you and this is not PC, the male locals are also worth a peek. 😉

      4. gillmorris Avatar

        OOh even better! 😉

      5. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Indeed 😉

  3. Shana Avatar

    I love how you have included images, videos and used words to give us the information as well 🙂 And it is really cool to know the name origins of some places.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Shana for the great feedback! Glad you enjoyed my post.

  4. equinoxio21 Avatar

    I didn’t know about “Tartuffi”. In French, Tartuffe is the main character of a Molière play, and has become synonymous with Hypocrite. (Why am I thinking about a peroxided man on a state visit to the UK?) Hmmm.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha guess it’s the way your mind works? 😉 Totally understandable though…everywhere he and his wife goes is of concern as it’s always about what he can reap from a country!

      I prefer the Tartufo as a chocolate molten gelato!

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        That Tartufo sounds nice. 🙂
        My mind works in weird ways. Lots of lateral thinking.
        And yes, the “village idiot” as another blogger puts it, is always looking for an edge, and advantage. Sickening really. (I bet you his wife will file for divorce the minute he gets out of power…)

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        The Tartufo is sublimely rich and you’ll have to try one some day.
        I started typing that but then deleted as wasn’t sure if you’d be offended. 😉
        Writing is on the wall…

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Offended? By what? Very few things offend me. 🙂
        I will remember the Tartufo next time I’m in Italy. 😉

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s a great way to be and I’m the same, especially as I’ve got older. 😉
        Cool, let me know when you’re in Italy as I may still be here…

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Most certainly will. Though I have no idea when. 😉

  5. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Quite beautiful, Nilla. The place poor Murat was executed. He was a great warrior. Very much missed by Napoleon at Waterloo. Had he been there, the fate of the battle might have changed. Who knows. Loved the Italian “tuk-tuk”.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Pizzo is very beautiful and it’s not far from me so I’ll have to return. I still need to visit the Chiesetta.
      I wonder what fate would have eventuated if Murat was indeed at Waterloo – interesting reflection…

      There’s one of those Tuk-Tuks in Cosenza now. I think it ferries shoppers from an expensive jewellery store to their cars, but I need to ask the driver. 😉

  6. AwayFromOrigin Avatar

    These pictures really showcase Cosenza, and that Tartufo looks amazing! I’ll have to find the recipe on that.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi, many thanks for your feedback.
      I hoped that these photos would provide a little taste for readers of what Pizzo is like…
      My Tartufo photo isn’t that great but for people that may not know what one is, at least you get an idea of what it looks like. 😉

  7. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I love how the buildings are set into the hill and rise one above the other. And the colour of the ocean! Stunning views.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It’s gorgeous and throughout southern Italy but also in the north – strategic building.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes it is – thanks for the link.

  8. Under Flowery Sky Avatar

    Nice little place, the castle looks amazing..

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It is a lovely place and small enough to be enjoyable. I’m not sure how busy this gets in the summer months with local tourists…may need to return to find out. 😉
      Many thanks for your comment.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks for re-blogging this!



    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for commenting China.

  10. M.K.Friction Avatar

    A lot of information. That’d be really cool if you started searching all the old pirate caves! I’ve always loved caves since I was a child.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks for your comment. I’m sure my post only scratches the surface of Pizzo.

      I love cave exploring and will have to return to Pizzo to explore the cave. An area in Reggio Calabria that’s famous for it’s pirate caves: Scilla, but then again I’m discovering that there are many caves and grottos along the southern Italian coastline.

  11. Red Metal Avatar

    I would definitely like to visit Europe one day. Every country there has a rich history, and the locals are really good at preserving it.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hope you get there soon…there’s loads to see in just Italy let alone the rest of Europe.
      Some cities, towns, and villages are better at preserving their history than other…but same world-over.
      Many thanks for leaving your comment.

  12. Giovanni Augello Avatar

    Amazing Pizzo Calabro! I keep it in may heart!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It is a gorgeous town Giovanni and I need to return for another visit.

  13. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Pizzo is one of my favorite fishing towns in Calabria. And not just because of the Tartufo.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Lulu, thank you for your thoughts and yes, Pizzo is a lovely destination to visit.

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