On the way to the spectacular Sila National Park and nestled amongst sweeping hills in the Savuto Valley, lies the quaint village of Rogliano in Calabria, Southern Italy.
Not frequented by many foreign tourists, you are assured of a genuine and warm Calabrese experience on your visit.
If you’re lucky, you may get to travel on a double-carriage train. This is a much newer train and is in use for festivals and fairs such as the St Joseph’s fair in Cosenza, as these events draw many people to the city from neighbouring villages and the region.
From Cosenza’s Central train station, the rickety old one-carriage graffiti-splattered train whisks you around the hills to Rogliano. Well, perhaps ‘whisk’ isn’t quite the right word and ‘chugs’ is better, as you travel on a diesel train.
The journey takes around half an hour, travelling through beautiful mountainous countryside and forests, whilst you steadily climb the surrounding deep valleys.
This little trip to the mountains is quite special and I never tire of the view. And, always reminisce as to what this area must have been like when my father and his family grew up here, shame I never asked many questions when he was alive.
You never seem to enquire about your parent’s heritage while growing up. All that history and experience is lost forever once relatives are gone.
The more time I spend in Calabria and meet wonderful southern Italians, the more I want to learn about this region.
Everywhere has its ups and downs, and I’m not saying this area is perfect, but it has been good to me so far and I’m enjoying living here.
I am very lucky to travel through the various seasons, which provide a natural ever-changing and colourful backdrop – one more beautiful than the last.
Tip: Trains from Cosenza run on 2 different timetables during the year. The changeover for summer is from July to September and typically, fewer trains are scheduled.
Rogliano is the village where my grandmother was born, so I feel that my roots belong here…similar to my father’s village (Parenti), which is about a short 25-kilometre crazy bus ride into the mountains from Rogliano.
In these small isolated villages during my grandmother and father’s times, I’m told that babies were delivered in their homes and not in hospitals. Typically, this was done by a neighbour with some experience and a stand-in midwife. Lighting was scarce. Life was very basic and rustic.
Today, however, Rogliano boasts around 6,000 residents and although quaint, is bustling with many restaurants, coffee shops, museums, shops, and the medieval Old Town.
Meandering the streets of Rogliano and stopping for an espresso or an Aperitivo is wonderfully relaxing. The people-watching is also great. I love Rogliano’s village feel and Old Town.
A little walk up the hill from the train station will have you strolling the Corso (main street) with many little authentic bakeries, delicatessens, bar and gelato stops.
Once you visit the Corso and especially if you stop and meet a few locals along the way, if and when you return, you will be remembered.
Even though my Italian is improving, I don’t really blend in with locals here or in Italy for that matter, especially in small villages.
Perhaps it’s because my grandmother was from this village and this spot resonates with me, but I can understand the locals speaking the dialect (mostly), which incidentally, is a little different to the Parenti dialect.
An open-air street art museum with life-size sculptures grace Rogliano’s Corso alleyways, which is worth taking in on your stroll, but more on that later.
The Old Town
Following a powerful earthquake, the original village was re-built to its current position, which dates back to medieval times (1300-1400). Still intact and not having suffered the wraths of historical wars, a visit to Rogliano’s Old Town is a must.
Climbing up and down the narrow cobbled alleyways will leave you wanting to stop for a snack and rest.
A leisurely stroll along the Corso’s narrow alleyways and it’s not long before you bump into twelve intriguing sculptures made from either wood, stone, or iron.
The sculptures were completed during six days and artists only had six hours to complete their piece as the work was ranked.
A few of the sculptures look as though they took more than six hours to complete.
Food in Rogliano
Spending loads of time in Rogliano goes hand-in-hand with sampling Rogliano’s culinary delights.
Although nothing beats our friend’s famous and scrumptious dishes made with loving hands and with true Italian food obsession. Including, picking fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, wonderfully cooked and delivered straight onto the table.
Ristorante Pizzeria Bella Rogliano
A Pinsa is a type of pizza that I haven’t tried before, never really heard of until I arrived here – echoes of heathen.
A Pinsa is made with three different types of flour and is proved for around 150 hours in the fridge.
You cannot believe how light and fluffy this type of pizza is – simply divine. I urge everyone to try a Pinsa.
Ristorante Pizzeria La Lanterna
Newly opened on Vico Donnanni snc. with owners eager to please. Perched on a higher part of Rogliano, the views from the outside seating area stretch across the picturesque and undulating Camminella Valley.
Enter inside to be greeted with a very tasteful and fresh modern décor, which invites a cool atmosphere.
The Antipasto and Pizza are simply delicious and servings are plentiful. The usual beverages are available as is bottled and house wine. Eat your excellent pizza while enjoying great service in this noisy but fun ambience.
Slainte Irish Pub
Walk along Corso Umberto to discover this quiet pub in Rogliano – well it was quiet until our rowdy group rocked up.
Surrounded by exposed ancient stone walls and a low heavy-timbered ceiling, you feel as though you’re thrown back in an old English pub from the medieval period.
The blinding difference is the cost and strength of the drinks though – extremely cheap at €6 for 3 rums and one liqueur, accompanied by nibbles. All of this makes for a very pleasant experience, with lovely and friendly staff thrown in.
Bar Gelateria Misaggi
Stop along Via Antonia Guarasci, 18/20 for excellent coffee, pastries (€1.20+), service, and Aperitivo. This is a great breakfast stop for the obligatory café and Brioche, especially on a Sunday morning. At this time, local Roglianese flock and parade along the streets chatting the morning away, before speeding back home like a puff of wind for a leisurely Pranzo (lunch).
On Via A De Gaspei, 1/A-1/B, this lovely bar offers excellent coffee and wonderful baked-on-site pastries. Give this bar a go if you’re in the neighbourhood – it’s worth the stop.
It’s always sad leaving this lovely village, but I am also very lucky to be able to return anytime…