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
Mastio

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
Rustic

18 thoughts on “Exploring Italy’s Corigliano Calabro

Add yours

  1. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 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.

      Like

    1. 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.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. 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.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 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. 😉
      Cheers
      Nilla

      Like

    1. 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.

      Like

    2. 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!
      Cheers
      Nilla

      Like

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