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Altomonte in Calabria

Historic city, charming and full of interesting tourist spots: this is Altomonte, in Calabria.

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Introduction

Today we are going to visit one of the most interesting cities in Calabria, Altomonte. The city is welcoming and presents itself to tourists without any pretensions, but it will get your heart immediately! Today we are going to Altomonte. So, let’s do it! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? Looking for a hotel? Click here and discover best accommodation options in Calabria!

A little more about Altomonte

Altomonte is a charming village in the province of Cosenza, at the foot of the National Park of Pollino. The place corresponds to the old village Balbia, name of Phoenician origin (that means Lord) mentioned by Pliny, the Elder, when celebrates the goodness of the Balbino wine. Situated on the hill, the houses seem to be welded to the ground and the rocks, the hills with olive trees, fields and spots are a real timeless spectacle. What Are The Ten Places You Must See In Calabria?

The village maintains the medieval atmosphere, with old houses of stone portals from the 17th-19th centuries, work of local masons. The village was rewarded with the Orange Flag, quality mark designed by the Italian Touring Club for the development of tourism in the inner town. Enogastronomic Itinerary In Calabria

Historically Altomonte has very ancient origins

The city was transferred to the river Esaro, where were recently found the remains of a Roman Villa of the first century AD, which today is an archaeological park. Throughout its history, the Village has seen the passage of different peoples and civilizations, and it is thought that between 800 and 1000 AD, its inhabitants moved to the present place. It received, therefore, several denominations; the first was the denomination Normand, then the one of Swabia, but it was under that of Anjou that the village became a center of art, culture and faith of extraordinary importance. In fact, it was precisely in the fourteenth century that the country finally assumed the name of Altomonte and also had its best historical period.

Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione

From this period many churches and buildings still represent the artistic and cultural patrimony of the place. The village of Altomonte is a veritable monument in the open air, especially in the architecture of the houses of its historical center. This is the case of the stone portals of the old buildings that still maintain the medieval environment. The top of the village is dominated by the Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, one of the most direct evidence of the Anjou in Calabria.

A little more about Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione

It is the most interesting church of the Anjou period in Calabria and it was built by Filippo Sangineto. This magnificent church inspired by the French Gothic and preserves in part the baroque, works of Simone Martini, Bartolomeo Daddi and plates of the fifteenth century. Of particular interest is the Museum of Sacred Art, installed in the Convent of the Dominicans, where studied the General Tommaso Campanella. It was founded in 1980 to document the history of Altomonte, with special reference to its feudal lords and the religious order of the Dominicans.

This building is situated overlooking the Altomonte Valley, with typical positions of defensive structures and was originally built as the Count’s house. From 1444 the building began to take the typical form of a convent, with a cloister of two orders, with pillars of Roman arches and coffers. It became a spiritual center and the monastery was home to a well-stocked library, played an important role in the Dominican Reformation in Calabria; between 1588 and 1589 hosted Tommaso Campanella. In this convent there are many ornaments and furniture items, mainly due to the generosity of the principles of Sanseverino, the lords of Altomonte, but also the wealth of the Dominican Order in the Baroque period.

The Dominican Convent and Pancaro Palace

From a short walk of the Dominican Convent are the feudal castle and the Pallotta’s Tower (11th century), a fort with a square base and HQ of the Azzinari Museum, built in the 14th century. Expanded and renovated more than a few times by several feudal lords who have succeeded, it retained the original structure and is now a hotel. Amazing are also the 14th century tomb of feudal lord Filippo Sangineto, the tombs of Sanseverino and a tombstone of the Ruffo, which in practice constitutes a small pantheon of the most powerful feudal families of Calabria. Another building to see is the 16th century Pancaro Palace, one of the oldest structures in the town of Altomonte. It is worth visiting, at least outside, the Church Square of St. Francis of Paola, an old monastery which today is the base of Altomonte Town Hall.

The Church of the Apostle Saint James

The old convent was built in 1635, when the saint was named patron of Altomonte. Immediately, after walking in the alleyways of the old town, take a walk until you reach Balbia Square, home of public meetings in the middle ages. This is where the Church of the Apostle Saint James, which was recently restored, is located. In the neighborhood of houses, that arise around the Church is, in structure, clearly of Arab origin.

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How to get there?


Let’s see how we can get to Altomonte Village.

1) How to get there? BY PLANE

The nearest airport is Lamezia Terme (CZ). From there you can drive by the A3 highway (Salerno-Reggio Calabria) for about 110 km (direction: Salerno), and take the exit at Altomonte.

2) How to get there? BY TRAIN

The nearest stations are Spezzano Albanese Terme (km 18), San Marco Argentano (km 20) and Sibari station

3) How to get there? BY CAR

Altomonte is accessible along the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria, exit Altomonte, and along the highway for about 10 km. From the coast, take the SS 106 and access the 534, by the highway 105, from Belvedere Maritimo and the highway 283, from Guardia Piemontese on the side of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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IMPORTANT TO KNOW!

Remember that to drive in Italy it is MANDATORY to have the International Driving License, the famous IDP (International Driving Permit). The certificate is not issued in Italian, but it is accepted in English! The IDP lasts 180 days (it depends where you live) and is issued by the Traffic Department of your country (if you have the European Driver License, you don’t need to worry about it!).

NOTE:
  • Check with your country’s Traffic Department which documents are required and the rates for issuing the IDP. If you chose to travel by car, be sure to read our Post “Driving in Italy“. It is very important to avoid winning fines for lack of information.

 


Conclusion

Nicknamed ‘Spoleto of Calabria’, (Spoleto is a town in Perugia) visiting Altomonte is like stepping back in time to discover hidden wonders in Calabria. In this beautiful place we have the pleasure of walking in its streets, admiring and marveling at the panoramic glimpses and numerous architectural details present in this piece of Calabria.

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