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North Calabria

Discovering small medieval villages and the magnificent Pollino National Park

Castrovillari lies in the north of Calabria, close to the borders with Basilicata and within the Pollino National Park. The town is situated in the middle of a huge arena shaped by mountains including Pollino (2,248 m) and Dolcedorme (2,273 m), within the Pollino National Park.

The name derives probably from the medieval Latin castrum villarum, meaning "fortress of the villas". The place is inhabited since prehistoric times. The city was founded, or better fortified, in the Middle Ages during the wars between the Lombards and the Byzantine Empire. During the House of Hohenstaufen rule in southern Italy, the town obtained the title of city and was the starting point for the evangelization of Calabria by the Minor Friars Order, founded by St. Francis from Assisi.

The first Franciscan Monastery in Calabria ("Protoconvento francescano") was built here in 1220 by Pietro Cathin from Sant'Andrea of the Marca, the first Order's Prior in Calabria. the castle was built in 1490 during the Aragonese rule in southern Italy. Castrovillari main sights: Castello Aragonese, Ponte della Catena (Bridge of the Chain), connecting the two halves of the city, church of San Giuliano, Franciscan convent, church of Madonna del Castello

In Morano Calabro (in the picture) the buildings are so close to each other that they appear, against the backdrop of the Pollino, like an unreal perfectly conical hill, consisting of only houses. Since the Roman period, Saraceno and then the Middle Ages, Morano Calabro is a compact fabric of houses and a labyrinth of stairs, alleys and winding streets, partly excavated in the rock.

The Ponte del Diavolo is located in the town of Civita, in the province of Cosenza, within the territory of the Pollino National Park and connects the two walls of the canyon excavated by the river Raganello. It seems that the bridge was used already in Roman times to cross the Alcalandros (the current Raganello) and reach the Magna Grecia.

The legend: it seems that, because of the extreme difficulty to build the bridge, it was decided to make a deal with the devil; in exchange for the help, the devil would have taken the soul of the first person who had crossed it. Once built, however, the bridge was crossed by a dog; the devil, enraged by the teasing, kicked the bridge leaving signs that, according to this legend, are still visible today.

Pollino National Park is the largest Protected Area among the most recent parks of Italy. Between the summits of Dolcedorme and Cozzo del Pellegrino and the horizons sketching out on the waters of the Tyrrheanian and Ionian Sea, along the mountain massif of Pollino and Orsomarso stretching out in Calabria and Lucania, Nature and Man intertwine millenary relationships which Pollino National Park, established in 1993, preserves and safeguards under its symbol, the Bosnian Pine.

Le Gole del fiume Raganello between San Lorenzo and Civita a canyon 13 kilometers long, set between the high rocky walls. A path in the water, among the fantastic rocks smoothed by the Raganello river. The high stretch and the low stretch are waiting for you to experience a unique adventure in one of the most beautiful nature reserves of Italy and Europe where you can enjoy rafting or trekking and other wild activities.