In the heart of the National Park of Pollino is Civita: beautiful, interesting and mysterious, it seems to have been made of stones! The gray of its frame attracts our eyes and makes us want to know much more about this piece of Calabrian beauty! Today we are going to visit Civita, in Calabria. 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 the Civita
In the heart of the National Park of Pollino, we find Civita, ‘the village among the rocks’, thus defined by the huge green mountains that surround the valley, immersed in a natural environment without comparison, one of the most beautiful valleys of Pollino . Civita rests between typical Mediterranean vegetation, on one side and, on the other, an exciting landscape characterized by the Raganello Canyon, which is the gateway to the Pollino National Park. What Are The Ten Places You Must See In Calabria?
Civita was founded in 1467 by Albanian families on the ruins of a pre-existing village, burned by the Saracens of Sicily in 1014, made for the delivery of the ruins of ‘Thing, House and Feud’ perpetually owned by King Ferrante d’Aragona, as done by Giorgio Greco ‘Scanderberg’. In Civita, or Cyst, as it is usually called, the Albanian language of its ancestors is still spoken fluently. In fact, its inhabitants are part of the Albanian ethnic and linguistic minority of Italy, recognized and protected by the Italian State.
The city of Civita was one of the first places to establish the linguistic treaty (given by Law 482/99) for the protection and development of its ethno-linguistic heritage. The characteristic is more evident in the Eastern ecclesiastical celebrations, the ‘Arbëreshë’ officialize, by tradition and millennial faith, the Byzantine liturgical functions in Greek and preserves the Eastern Christian symbolism with old gestures and chants in Greek and in Albanian, with orthodox cover-ups, sacred icons, mosaics and iconostasis. Let’s Visit The Most Beautiful Villages In Calabria In 3 Days?
1) The main Attractions of Civita: RAGANELLO GORGES AND RAGANELLO RIVER
One of the main attractions of the place, that is visited annually by thousands of tourists, is the path of the ‘devil’s bridge’ and the crossing of the Raganello Gorges. Also called the ‘devil’s bridge’ town, its landscapes are listed among the most beautiful of Calabria, with its bridge built to join the two walls that fall directly into the Raganello River, which takes its name from the valley, is now one of the destinations most relevant tourist destinations.
2) The main Attractions of Civita: DEVIL´S BRIDGE AND THE CANYON RAGANELLO
The route slopes the Raganello valley until you reach an old mill, which is located just behind an old road that crosses over the impetuous torrent with the mysterious Devil’s Bridge. An ancient path surrounded in the Mediterranean forest made of colors and aromas, always known by the men in the local folklore. After 600 steps, one arrives in the legendary Bridge of the Devil, from where one can descend to the bed of the river. These paths represent a spectacle of nature, where we find magnificent landscapes, shapes molded by water and amazing landscapes that allow us to discover wild goats that graze on the vertical rocky walls of Canyon Raganello.
For those hiking enthusiasts, and also for those who want to spend a whole day in contact with nature and live an exciting experience, it is mandatory to go to the ravines of the Raganello because they offer a charming setting where you can practice even extreme sports such as cannoning and rafting.
3) The main Attractions of Civita: LAMIA FOUNTAIN
The gorge begins near the Lamia Fountain and ends after traveling 13km in the area of the Devil’s Bridge. It is a work of nature that is worth seeing; developing among the mountains that seem to be in some game of balance between the colors and scents that Mother Nature keeps intact in this part of Calabria. The environment offers a charming setting, especially where one observes the corrosive action of water, which has already recorded stupendous works in stone. It is this erosion that created the cliffs and their vertical.
There are many obstacles to overcome; slippery wedged rocks between icy waters and waterfalls, small ponds, minor walls to be climbed and wider passage and alternates with narrow, almost dark passages, illuminated by a thin blade of light that enters from above, while twigs of trees move occasionally, enlivening the scene, creating glimpses of a magical beauty. Because of this radical aspect, and nothing simple of the itinerary, the route needs adequate equipment for the crossing.
4) The main Attractions of Civita: TIMPA DEL DEMONIO
As soon as you arrive in Civita, there is no way you cannot be impressed by ‘Timpa Del Demonio’, or Devil’s Stone: a 800-meter rocky wall that opposes the view of those who are there and want to look at the Northeast. The sites do not even notice it, but the huge rock mass is the first thing to catch the eye of tourist and visitors.
Before enjoying the famous ‘chimneys’ of the Civita, the visitor’s eyes need to know that the best point of observation of this gigantic stone is the belvedere near the Mater Church, from where it is possible to observe the layers of white and pink stones of the colossus.
The face of the rock is always in constant motion; the winter storms start each year with new splinters that are distinguished by the white color, while the rusty rock tends to become pink with time.
5) The main Attractions of Civita: THE CHIMNEYS AND THE KODRA HOUSES
Civitese architecture: the chimneys and the Kodra houses – Walking through the alleys of this wonderful village, we see the typically anthropomorphic little houses recently named ‘Kodra Houses’, in memory of the Albanian artist Ibrahim Kodra, who after a visit to Civita, portrayed these elements in his paintings.
The seven typical houses, unique in their particularities, are distinguished from the others by the curious morphology that suggests the traces of a human face – a reflection of the distribution of the internal space in the houses.
Another important aspect of this village is the urban structure characterized by the narrow streets and their intersections, but above all by the variety of its chimneys, true works of art.
It is not known exactly when this trend began, but the ‘masters’ used to be invited to sign the construction of a new house with a chimney – always unlike any existing one. The chimneys are considered an attraction in the town, made with the sensitivity and the uniqueness of transforming a common element into a work of art capable of admiring and fascinating. The value attributed to the chimneys comes from the ability to retell the domestic intimacy of each house singularly, becoming symbols of social status – more elaborate and ornate chimneys on the houses, more wealthy the family, while others are simpler – both in form and in functionalities were used by farmers. There are also those enriched in symbols and rituals. The most characteristic were built between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, although there are some older ones.
6) The main Attractions of Civita: THE CIVITA CHURCHS
We will now visit the churches of Civita.
The Greek Orthodox Rite
The Greek-Byzantine rite of the word, originated in Byzantium in the fourth century, has its appearance in Italy attributed to the fifth century, during the Byzantine occupation by Justinian. The Albanians, who came to Italy, practiced the Greek rite because they came from southern Albania, from the center of Epirus and Greece, where a Greek-speaking religion spread, submissive to the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Church of S. Maria Assunta, Chapel of St. Anthony and the Chapel of Consolation
In the village Square is the Church of S. Maria Assunta, which was built in the middle of the 17th century and is located right in the center of the place. Initially it was called the New Church, because before its construction the faithful practiced their worship in the numerous chapels present in the village. The church has a typical architecture of basilicas, with interior decoration in late Baroque style. In the front wall for those who enter, there is a small mosaic of the Virgin Odigitria, included in a medallion of the early twentieth century.
A characteristic feature of the churches of the Byzantine rite is the presence of the iconostasis – the dividing walls in which the icons are inserted and separate the nave, where the worshipers preach, from the apse area, where priests and deacons celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the square altar above, which rests the dove with wings outstretched, symbol of the Holy Spirit, that has the function of tabernacle, protecting in its interior a particular consecrated bread. The icon was born to witness the splendor of God as man and contains, in his language, the rules dictated by the Church in all Christian theology: God! The other two churches are smaller chapels: the Chapel of St. Anthony and the Chapel of Consolation.
7) The main Attractions of Civita: THE CIVITA MUSEUMS
We will now visit the Museum of Civita.
The Arbëreshë Ethnic Museum
Obviously you should not miss the Arbëreshë Ethnic Museum, within which you can observe objects of the rural culture, Arbëreshë costumes, a library on ethnicity and a photo gallery of all the Arbëreshë communities of Italy, with images of the Byzantine liturgy. The museum was created, precisely, to deliver a living history memory on ethnicity and on the Byzantine religious tradition.
The Eco Museum of landscape
It’s located in the old Castellano Palace, owned by the Pollino National Park. Created with the purpose of safeguarding and valuing the historic centers, the peculiar cultures of the place and encourage a compatible use of available resources.
The Museum of Industrial Archeology
It’s an actual museum-monument. There are machines used at the end of the nineteenth century, made in Germany. Renovated by the Montana Italo-Arbëresë community of Pollino, it was opened to the public as an industrial museum.
How to get there?
1) How to get there? BY PLANE
The Lamezia Terme Airport (www.sacal.it) is connected by bus to Cosenza; routes run by the Romano lines, which are carried out daily. The bus ride takes about an hour and ten minutes.
2) How to get there? BY BUS
3) How to get there? BY TRAIN
The nearest stations are: Sibari (for information on timetables call: +39 0981/892021). From Sibari to Castrovillari there are two daily bus routes managed by Saj. Bus station – Castrovillari. Buses Castrovillari – Sibari. There is also the connection with private taxis. The other railway station is Cosenza, more distant, but with more alternatives of connection. From Cosenza station, there are frequent and regular bus lines.
4) How to get there? BY CAR
HighwayA3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria exit Frascineto – Castrovillari, keep for another 7 km towards Civita highway, A3 Salerno-Reggio Calábria exit at Frascineto – Castrovillari, keep for more 7 km until reach Civita.
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!).
- 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.
CIVITA – The town among the rocks – Outside of mass tourism, in an uncontaminated and authentic territory where the signs of nature and man are now divided, we discover Civita, a treasure chest that holds the ancient traditions of the Arbëresh people. Gently nestled in the eastern mountains of Pollino, surrounded by a breathtaking landscape, offers us fabulous scenarios modeled by nature for thousands of years.
The reserves of green paths and crystalline waters flowing from the Raganello creek, where there are marvelous canyons, archaeological sites where you can hear distant echoes of a diverse culture, has seen several successes over the centuries: Greek, Roman, Byzantine , Saracens and, finally, Albanians.
Due its geographical position and morphology of its territory, it has a unique and unrepeatable beauty – now destination of many tourists. Civita is much appreciated for its gastronomy and for the restaurants that present a very successful fusion of the Calabrian tradition with the Arbëresh tradition.
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