Cosenza Day Trip: Sibari, Calabria

Just under an hour’s drive from the city of Cosenza in southern Italy’s Calabria region, holds the captivating and relatively unknown (to foreigners) archaeological park and its museum in the small town of Sibari.

Parco Archeologico di Sibari, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe

But why not stop at this section of the deserted Ionian Sea first for a quick look?

Ionian Sea, Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Ionian glimpses

A little background on Sibari

This area of Calabria’s flat plains is known as Sybaritides and is a short distance from the mouth of the River Crati, which is Calabria’s largest river and Italy’s third-largest. This 91-kilometre river also flows north through Cosenza.

Starting its life in 720 BC, the ancient and original Greek city of Sybaris developed, expanded, and was then destroyed by Crotone and other Greeks, before another colony emerged during 446/445 BC. And of course, soon after, fighting between colonists and Sybarites began with the Sybarites even sacrificing their wives to Gods, to then take the land.

Sybaris’ deep layers of history make this one of the “largest and most important sites in the Mediterranean of the archaic and classical ages”.

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide

Crossing over from Cosenza on the Tyrrenhein coast and heading northeast to the Ionian coast, the first stop-off point on this cruisy day trip is to the Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide.

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe

The €5 entry fee (2022) is for both the museum and expansive excavation site only a couple of kilometres away.

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe

This area is not on a foreign tourist’s radar and is mostly frequented by locals or nationals. To be honest, I had never heard of this site before living in Cosenza for a while and visiting back in 2019, when the entry fee was only €3.

It’s easy to forget time while leisurely wandering for a couple of hours through the almost empty three levels of rooms filled with thousands of humidified intriguing glassed exhibits, some of which signs are in English.

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Contemporary signage

Leave a good several hours or more to appreciate the volume of exhibits in the museum before making your way to the excavation site only a couple of kilometres away.

A fantastic well-structured museum with really helpful staff and definitely worth a visit.

After spending quite some time in the museum, reading up on the fascinating but checkered history of Sibari, wander back out to the carpark to continue to the archaeological park and thought-provoking history lesson.

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Scenic panorama

Parco Archeologico di Sibari

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide, Parco Archeologico di Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe

A short two-kilometre drive (or walk) to the Parco Archeologico di Sibari is your next stop, on this historical day trip from Cosenza.

An aerial view of the archaeological park for you, as from the ground, it really is difficult to get a feel of the area’s size of the excavated ruins.

National Archaeological Museum of Sibaritide and Archaeological Park of Sybaris, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Photo: Pon Cultura e Sviluppo

At the time of visiting, the modern entrance building seemed empty although the public toilet was open. The park’s attendant collects the ticket that you previously purchased at the museum, before allowing you to venture to the site.

As the previous day’s rain rendered the area sodden, we only stroll around the top of the excavated site as water fills some of the deep chambers of the “Housing Construction” as detailed in the sign – from the hemicycle to the theatre building.

All signage is in Italian, so a little difficult for foreigners but even if you don’t read Italian, you can still get the gist of the ruins through the numerous pictures. The sign below explains the building monuments in this section of the park.

The republican age copy below explains the first phases of life in the city as it was, millennia ago…

Lovely picturesque and peaceful grounds devoid of tourists surround this amazing archaeological site, and grateful to have this site all to ourselves today.

This video from the Ministero della Cultura provides a quick overview of the archaeological park.

Getting there

From Calabria’s bustling city of Cosenza, drive north on the E45 highway until turning right to head east on SS534.

Follow the signs to the Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibari along the flat lush Calabrian countryside, surrounded by sweeping mountains.

Cosenza to Sybaris, Sibari, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Signs to the Parco Archeologico di Sibari are also displayed along this pleasant drive that takes just under an hour.

Leaving Sibari

After absorbing a history lesson while visiting the archaeological park and its wonderful museum, sadly, there isn’t much else to see in Sibari, so we decide to continue the day trip a little further.

Heading south along the coast on a short drive of another eighteen kilometres or so Corigliano Scalo comes into view, which is the outskirts of gorgeous Corigliano Calabro – a new town to explore.

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

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10 responses to “Cosenza Day Trip: Sibari, Calabria”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Bello viaggio. Grazie

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and glad you enjoyed this journey!

  2. Dave Ply Avatar

    Somehow, I’ve never associated Sybarite with archeological ruins before. Who knew? (Apparently, not many tourists.)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, too funny and so true! 😉

  3. Yetismith Avatar

    Looking back I ask myself why I did not spend more time exploring Europe and particularly all those amazing ancient ruins around the Mediterranean. I have always been fascinated and I often read stories based on Greek and Roman history. Standing in sites that were once such hives of activity, I try to imagine the people, who were they, what were their thoughts and so on. We have si little here that is ancient. I only learned about Cahokia quite recently, though even that is not ancient. How lovely that you got to visit a site by yourselves. It does make a difference. I have a photograph of Mum and I at Angkor in 1957. We were the only tourists. Hard to imagine now and I like to remember it as it was.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Europe has an incredible amount of sites to explore as does Italy. I do the same when visiting ruins – try to imagine what life may have been like all those thousands of years ago. There always seems to be a presence but then again, it may be my imagination running wild. 😉
      Just looked up Cahokia – wow! Will have to see Mexico one day…
      Visiting Angkor in 1957 must have been special. I saw a marked change when from when I first visited in 2004 and then again in 2014 – only 10 years later. Much too many tourists. The government should restrict the number of daily visitors but you know how it is in SE Asia.

      1. Yetismith Avatar

        Yes. Tourism brings money to those in need but it will be the ruination of wonderful sites. I am so glad Bhutan still limits tourism…at least last time I checked they did. I could not bear to go back to Tibet now. It was already sad in 1986. Sigh.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I’ve always wanted to visit Tibet.
        The government limits daily visitors to Macchu Picchu and I think it still closes down the site for one month(?) each year for restoration work. And, is the reason I’m not keen on returning to countries…guess we’re lucky to have seen some countries before tourism overran those places. 😉

  4. Debbie Myer Avatar
    Debbie Myer

    Absolutely fascinating! It’s a pity foreigners don’t know about this. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. If I’m ever in Calabria, this will definitely be part of my itinerary.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Debbie
      This is a fascinating site to explore. A pity or a bonus as it’s not swamped like the Italian tourist milk run… 😉
      Have you visited Calabria before?

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