Deep in Calabria’s Sila National Park mountains, uncharted Poverella is a unique destination, which isn’t known to travellers.
With invitations to meet cousins from Poverella while enjoying a gastronomic Calabrese lunch, how could anyone pass up this opportunity?
Where is Poverella?
The region of Calabria covers the toe of Italy’s boot and is rumoured to be one of Italy’s region that is seldom visited, although this is changing. Poverella is nestled in Calabria’s Sila National Park.
Belonging to the municipality of Rogliano, in Calabria’s Cosenza province, Poverella sees few tourists. Surprising, because Poverella’s surrounding area is nothing short of stunning and an area for nature lovers.
Not to mention breathing in healthy, fresh air when visiting, or should you decide to remain and live in Poverella.
Hailed to have the cleanest air in Italy, the Sila National Park also offers fantastic winter sports, treks, summer cool picnic spots – all a mere stone’s throw from Poverella.
Minutes from Poverella is picturesque man-made Lake Arvo in Lorica. Another wonderful destination that can’t be missed and visited briefly on today’s tour, and makes anyone longing to return.
A little on Poverella
Rising 1,225-metres above sea level, the quaint village of Poverella is home to only around 70 locals.
Calabria is renown for its slower pace of life and Poverella enjoys an even slower pace – it’s as though time stands still in this scenic mountain village that is close enough to world-class winter activities but far enough for peace and serenity. Check out these stunning winter photos that my cousin kindly provided for this post…
Poverella is the feminine word in Italian for a poor person. Although, this village is anything but poor. Rather, Poverella is rich in natural beauty and lush soil. The village exudes a close-knit community spirit and everyone looks out for each other.
Lingering lunch and customs
Ancient traditions of preserving fruits, vegetables, and also making Calabrese Sopressa (aged salami) is common, as is home-baking recipes, handed down through family generations. Many locals still make their own delicious pasta at home, which I sampled today for lunch on this gastronomic journey.
Fresh home-made is so much tastier and a sensual experience than shop-bought packet pasta. Several photos of my cousin’s home-made delicious delights that she whips up frequently – patience and time required.
The cold winter months see heavy snow dumped on Poverella and the village is snowed in so, many hours are spent creating sumptuous meals for the family and near-by residents. Another reason for the need to be self-sufficient in this small village.
Of course, when visiting relatives for the first time, family connections are a hot topic. Always fascinated by my family heritage, my cousin’s work on the family tree dating back a couple of centuries is laid on the floor to compare notes.
Clearly, my cousin completed much more research than I started a while back. Discovering your family roots takes a lot of time as the records are not always available, but good to know the passion of researching our roots is shared by other relatives.
The State Archives in Cosenza restores manuscripts and records dating back to the 14th century, which I was lucky enough to watch the painstaking restoration procedure.
If you visit the Sila during August and the beginning of September, you can participate in the Sila Potato Festival, which is held every year. With only a couple of days left of the potato festival close-by to Poverella in Bocca di Piazza, decide to visit briefly for a taste of what this event offers.
Typically, you can enjoy culinary shows, street performances, local handicrafts, and cultural meetings. Although, a dull drizzly day keeps festival-goers away. There’s not too much happening apart from a few food stalls, offering earthly flavoursome tastings.
Rustic camping is also offered in a field next to the festival for those that wish to remain for the festival’s duration. As it’s summer, it’s not too cold in Poverella, although still quite fresh at this altitude.
This region of Calabria is famous for its potatoes and sourced by restaurants around Italy. Parenti – The Land of my Father – is another area where potatoes are grown and renown to be the best in the country. I believe that the soil is optimal but also the clean natural water that cascades from the mountains filling rivers and estuaries also help.
You can say that almost anything grows in Calabria. Amongst a plethora of regional produce and delicacies, Calabria is also famous in Italy for the Peperoncino (hot chilli).
You would think as Poverella is in the Sila National Park – a great area in summer for picnics and also in winter for snow activities – that the region is serviced well with public transport? Not so – you need a car.
Unless you have a car, then it’s difficult and time-consuming to get to Poverella by public transport. A train line to this area doesn’t exist and buses are scarce.
Typically, a train from Cosenza takes you to Rogliano. A bus is waiting at Rogliano train station to take you on the 23-kilometre-journey to Bocca di Piazza. From here, you need a car for the rest of the trip for the almost 5-kilometres to Poverella.
Today, the Ferrovie della Calabria older-graffitied train (under €2 one-way) leaves from Cosenza Centro train station to Piano Lago, for the 25-minutes on a very pleasant trip.
This train line ends at Marzi, around 40-minutes from Cosenza. Wandering around Piano Lago until my cousin kindly picks me up for the drive through the stunning Sila National Park, I stumble on an ancient well at the train station.
Would love to know more information about this unexpected find at the station.
Leaving Piano Lago on the outskirts of Cosenza, the remnants of city life melts away during the hour’s drive from Piano Lago. The bustle is replaced with quietness as we hug steep mountains on the ascent through lush tall-treed forests to Poverella – Robin Hood country. The air becomes fresher the higher we climb along the narrow winding road, until reaching charming but isolated Poverella.
After a wonderful day meeting many relatives that I never knew existed, an amazing feast for lunch, a brief stroll through the Potato Festival, discovering more of my family heritage, it’s time for the drive back.
Nightfall makes for a much more dramatic descent down the mountain range, but I’m in safe hands as my cousin knows this road like the back of his hand.
Stopping off at Piano Lago to pick up more passengers, we head to Cosenza as I’m not to take the train back to the city in the dark. A lovely day with amazing Calabrese food and warm hospitality!