Exploring southern Italy’s gorgeous Corigliano Calabro in the untouched region of Calabria is a delight, and here’s why…
The winding road from Corigliano Scalo on the outskirts ascends towards the small hill, which Corigliano Calabro majestically and stunningly envelops.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
…but also be intriguing.
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.
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.