Exploring Italy’s Corigliano Calabro

Exploring southern Italy’s gorgeous Corigliano Calabro in the untouched region of Calabria is a delight, and here’s why…

Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, Italy, Europe

The winding road from Corigliano Scalo on the outskirts ascends towards the small hill, which Corigliano Calabro majestically and stunningly envelops.

Corigliano Calabro, Calabria. Italy, Europe

Surrounded by olive groves and colourful orchards, this picturesque Mediterranean vista enjoys a mild climate throughout the year.

Where is Corigliano Calabro?

I’m sure that most of you have not heard of Corigliano Calabro but if you have, drop me a comment below to share your honest experience. Most travellers to Italy stick around northern Italy and travel to the Amalfi Coast, then head straight to Sicily, totally bypassing the rest of the south. My aim is to bring you awareness of fantastic unknown Italian destinations.

I haven’t yet had a bad experience in this lovely town with friendly locals, even after visiting several times. So, where it Corigliano Calabro?

In southern Italy’s beautifully diverse and untouched region of Calabria, Corigliano Calabro is nestled in almost the arch of the boot, in the province of Cosenza.

Corigliano Calabro, Calabria. Italy, Europe

On the southeastern side of Italy and kissing the Ionian Sea, travellers to Corigliano Calabro can enjoy an authentic Italian experience without being swamped by tourists.

A little on Corigliano Calabro

Corigliano Calabro’s origins are ancient and can be traced back to the Arab incursion of 977, which forced people to move to higher places, so the hill.

Rich in art and history, you definitely need more than a day to explore this fabulous town and this is one of the reasons for returning several times.

The town is split into around 21 Rioni (districts) that evolved over centuries, each with its own distinct name. Corigliano Calabro is also known for its 122 (or more) churches.

Centro Storico

Of course, almost every city, town, and village in Italy holds its own very special original and enticing Old Town or Centro Storico (Historic Centre) and so too does Corigliano Calabro.

As with most old towns, they always ascend up a steep hill so be prepared for a lively walk, unless, you decide to drive. Expect very narrow cobbled streets – almost reduced to laneways – and with tight bends, it’s safer to walk if you’re not used to this type of specialised driving.

Ponte Canale (Canal Bridge)

If you park in Corigliano Calabro instead and decide to walk up to the castle in the Upper District, the Ponte Canale is visible from many angles in the town.

Because the woods and valleys surrounding Corigliano Calabro made it difficult to collect water, the aqueduct was built to join the northern part to the opposite side of town.

Aqueduct, Ponte Canale, Costello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Two gigantic espaliers are the foundation. From these, five grandiose arches were built and overlayed with another seven smaller arches, mixed with additional very small ones to make the aqueduct ornate. Then, a landing of only a few centimetres wide was placed above these to shift large volumes of water.

Castello di Corigliano Calabro

Castello di Corigliano Calabro (or Castello Ducale) is nothing short of impressive and gorgeous.

Castello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria. Italy, Europe
Electric blue Chiesa di Sant’Antonio da Padova dates back to early 1400

At only €5 entry (2019), the castle is definitely worth a visit, but leave a good couple of hours to experience everything that’s on offer. An information leaflet in English or Italian is provided, which is well set out to easily follow and traverse through the castle’s rooms with a detailed explanation.

Built as a military fortress in 1073, this Feudal castle has undergone many renewals through time. The drivers for the castle’s numerous transformations were to make it safe from attacks, so enlarging the castle’s structure while also making the castle adequate as a noble residence.

The opulence in several of the noble rooms still with original furniture is astounding, even by today’s standards…

The room named the hall of mirrors room is simply incredible in its detail, mirrored walls, intricate gilded stucco and tapestry. Bohemian crystal chandeliers hang from a ceiling that appears to reach into an endless night sky. An effect is achieved by the unbelievable trompe-l’oeil (realistic optical illusion of three-dimensional space and objects on a two-dimensional surface).

My simple phone video is to give you a little taste of the enormity of this alluring and exquisite room, which these days is also hired out for functions.

The castle’s massive towers and deep trench transports you to another era that can only be imagined by standing at this site.

Castello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria. Italy, Europe

The Norman ruler Robert Guiscard erected the castle as part of the defensive system to defend against the Byzantines in the Valle Crati.

Becoming a military base between 1487 and 1495, the castle was owned by the Royal Administration. During this royal command period, the four towers were built and marked by the main entrance’s stone tablet.

Descending to the castle’s dark and cold dungeon, several exhibits of authentic torture relics remain in stoned corners confronting you with the unfathomable cruelty endured of a past age.

Castello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria. Italy, Europe
Torturous seat

An official video by Corigliano Informa gives you a taste of the castle’s enormity…

Rooms are arranged to replicate what life of centuries ago was like for royalty. Wander through each space while being transported to another era…

Comprising 5 floors connected by a tight cast iron spiral staircase on 4 floors, the tower Mastio is adorned with stunning artwork by Girolamo Varni depicting Roman and Crusader times.

Of course, the panorama from the highest vantage point of castles is always breathtaking and this castle is no exception…

Costello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Ionian vista

…but also be intriguing.

Costello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Rooftop views

Getting to Coriglano Calabro

From the busy city of Cosenza, head northeast on the E45 highway for just over 74 kilometres until you reach the outskirts of Corigliano Scalo. Then, wind your way for around 2 kilometres to Corigliano Calabro.

I don’t advise driving deep into the old town as the cobbled roads become even narrower the higher you ascend into the town. Park at Via Roma and walk the incline to the castle.

Cosenza to Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, Italy, Europe

If you’re coming from visiting the fascinating Museo Nazionale Archeologico Sibaritide in Sibari, then the journey is only a drive of 18 kilometres south of Sibari.

Where to eat

Feeling peckish on your visit to Corigliano Calabro? Let’s face it, everyone is constantly peckish in Italy. With an abundance of eating haunts at every turn and the inviting lingering aromas of delicious food, stop off at Bar La Smorfia. Along Via XXIV Maggio N 20, you can enjoy a great coffee (€0.80+) of course and delicious savoury snacks.

Leaving Corigliano Calabro

Just like the beautiful and quaint village of Scilla in Reggio Calabria, Corigliano Calabro is fast becoming a favourite go-to destination to take overseas visitors, which is not at all surprising. But sadly, it’s time to leave this lovely town once more and head back on the easy 40-kilometre drive southwest to Cosenza.

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

Costello, Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, Italy, Europe

28 responses to “Exploring Italy’s Corigliano Calabro”

  1. Dara Turco Avatar

    I just learned that my grandfather was born here and would like to visit Corigliano Calabro next year. Are there places to stay and how can I look up my family?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Dara
      Thank you for sharing your story and leaving me a comment. How did you come across my site?
      I haven’t stayed in Corigliano Calabro as I lived in Cosenza, but I’m sure if you check booking.com or another platform, you’ll find places to stay.
      For me, the best way to find out information about my heritage is by physically going to the State Archives in Cosenza. Face-to-face, people are much better than responding to a stranger’s email, which typically gets ignored. This is my post on the State Archives if you’d like a read. 🙂

  2. Buzz mingin Avatar

    Hello my name is buzz and I am traveling to Colabria next week, which is where my family is from. I want to visit where my family is from but don’t know how to get to the exact place my family is from. Can anyone assist me?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Buzz
      Great to hear from you and thank you for visiting my site.
      Where in Calabria? Is your family from Corigliano Calabro?

  3. Alex Lawrence Avatar

    Hello, I just found your article under the related posts in the Reader section for an article I just wrote about traveling to Calabria! I was very happy to find your website because I love traveling and enjoy reading travel blogs (my blog has a travel section, too). My father was born in Corigliano Calabro but moved to Milan (where I was born) when he turned eighteen; thank you for writing such a beautiful article about his native town! Your website is wonderful!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Alex

      Thank you for your lovely feedback and for leaving me a comment – that makes me happy.
      I was in Calabria for 4 years and loved it there, only returned to Australia in 2020 and got marooned here with covid.
      Do you still live in Milano?
      You’re very welcome and I’ve published over 80 articles about Italy of which most are about Calabria.
      Visited your site and wanted to leave you a message, but think you have comments turned off. Thanks once again!

      Best wishes

      1. Alex Lawrence Avatar

        Thank you so much for answering Nilla! Now I am based on the Ligurian Riviera but I usually travel to Milan once or twice a week for work (I work in the fashion industry) and most of my friends still live there. I opened my site just a couple of months ago and I might open the comment section in the future, but I really appreciate your comment! I love Calabria too and I often visit the region to see friends and relatives; I have saved some of your Calabria articles in my Google Bookmarks and will read them soon (I noticed you have travelled pretty much everywhere around the globe and I love reading about travel experiences so I will definitely be checking out your articles about other destinations as well). Thank you for your message! Best wishes, Alex

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hi Alex
        It’s me that should be thanking you for leaving me such lovely feedback, which has made my week!
        Lucky you living in such a gorgeous part of Italy. Your work sounds exciting.
        You certainly have a lot of content for just a couple of months – well done.
        Thank you for bookmarking some of my articles and hope they show you some of the less visited areas of Italy. 😉
        I still haven’t digitised all of my travel journals from many years of travel. Think I’ve been to 62 countries so far, so I still have many to visit and only a lifetime to do this in…
        All the best

      3. Alex Lawrence Avatar

        Dear Nilla,
        I am so happy you appreciated my feedback! I will definitely read your articles and will probably leave a comment on them as well, I am sure I will enjoy them. 62 countries?! That sounds incredibly amazing, I don’t know anyone who has visited this many countries apart from a friend who used to be a flight assistant for Qatar Airways… I would love to travel pretty much everywhere in the world, I have only seen a few parts of Europe, other places like Tunisia and Albania, and in the States I only visited New York City. Going back to Calabria was important for me also because I hadn’t been on a plane since before the pandemic so it was great, I love flying! My website is pretty new but I’m enjoying working on it and I mainly post things I’m passionate about 🙂 thank you for your comment and I am looking forward to reading your other articles!
        All the best,

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hi Alex
        Always lovely to get great feedback and makes everything worthwhile.
        I haven’t been on a plane since landing back in Australia Feb 2020, so it’s been a long time. I work to travel and started a long time ago when I was 22, but never stopped, whether with a backpack or sailing (another love). You’ve been to more countries than a lot of people, so I wouldn’t stress too much. 😉
        Enjoy the weekend!

  4. Simon Avatar

    Your comments are wise. Italy is still a fairly young country and therefore not totally united. The south is poor and the north is rich. Many from the south move north to find work, and the mentalities are very different too. Complex indeed.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Young only since unification, agree.
      Exactly right, there aren’t many jobs in the south so people leave this region and head north to jobs, or overseas. It’s sad really as typically, only the very young and elderly are left in villages and towns, the cities are a little more evenly populated.
      I’m not sure whether this will change anytime soon as it is a complex issue. As with any country/region, how do you create jobs?
      Great to hear your thoughts.

  5. Dave Ply Avatar

    Amazing that places like this aren’t better known. What do the more famous places have that this place doesn’t?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      So true Dave and I believe because the south (especially Calabria) has a bit of a stigma attached, which is such a shame as this region is fabulous and the people are absolutely lovely!
      Then again, maybe it’s a good thing that it’s still a secret as the north of Italy is choked with tourists.

      1. Dave Ply Avatar

        I saw reference to that in another comment. What’s the stigma – unfriendliness?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No, not unfriendliness at all, it’s quite sad as the northerners think the southerners are lazy and don’t want to work (amongst other things). However, there are not a lot of jobs in the south. There are even some northern towns/cities that won’t rent a hotel room to Calabrese (or southerners). I know this for a fact as it happened to a couple that I know well. Also, there’s the unsavoury reputation of a particular organisation, but then this organisation is throughout Italy and the world, not just in the south. 😉
        Personally, I also believe it stems from when Italy wasn’t united, with separate geographical regions, currencies, and political systems, until Garibaldi unified the country.

  6. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Italy is not a country but a museum, right? 😉

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Absolutely agree! 😉

  7. ajeanneinthekitchen Avatar
    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback Jeanne!

  8. Yetismith Avatar

    What a stunning castle! That trompe l’oeil ceiling and those chandeliers. How do they keep it all looking so immaculate? I am very impressed. If I was to go travelling again it would be to Europe and Italy would be high on my list. I love reading about your travels.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Carolyn
      It is a very impressive castle and that ceiling is exquisite.
      I hear there are even more gorgeous castles than this one that I haven’t yet seen in Italy. 😉

  9. Simon Avatar

    Thanks, GREAT pics and descriptions too.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Simon
      Thanks for the great feedback and happy you enjoyed my post. Have you been to Corigliano?

      1. Simon Avatar

        No. I live in Italy and I have lived here on and off for the last 30 ish years. My lady is Italian too, I now live with her in Amalfi.
        You are 100% correct that the area of Coriglano is stunning. For the past 20 years I have explored most of Italy including the islands by motorbikes with a group of Italian friends. Sicily, Sardinia, Elba, Corsica plus of course the mainland. My son plays Pro Basket and I travel to see him play all over the country.
        The ONLY area not so popular with the Italians is Calabria. The beauty is tinged by the people unfortunately and the lack of cure for the stunning places, roads and history.
        I prefer 100 times Sicily where the history and culture is AMAZING really.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hi Simon
        Lucky you!
        Calabria has a stigma attached to it both nationally and internationally. However, I’ve always found locals to be super hospitable, extremely welcoming, and go out of their way to make sure you’re OK. In fact, more so than the north. I think I can say this as my mother was from the north and my father from Calabria, so two very different people in every way.
        Sicily is gorgeous and I’ve only spent 9 days there, however, Calabria holds just as much history and culture…don’t be afraid to visit more than once. 😉
        Great to hear about your experiences!

      3. Simon Avatar

        And ps the Italians are really smart, they keep all of the best places secret!!!

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Of course they do otherwise they’d be swamped!

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