Tuesday, 6 August 2013

the Raganello Valley

our days in Calabria were intense. a endless stream of new words, flavours, skylines, gestures.
we explored a valley located in the biggest italian national park {Parco Nazionale del Pollino}, the Raganello Valley. Raganello is a stubborn stream that carved its way out of high limestone rocks, so the valley's landscape is a mosaic composed by vertiginous rock walls,  great reddish promontories, five small villages {Civita, San Lorenzo Bellizzi, Cerchiara, Francavilla Marittima and Alessandria del Carretto} and the fierce and cold watercourse.

Civita and the timpe. "timpa" is the local word for the hilly rock formations

as my senses were wide open and almost overwhelmed, i want to try to tell you what i experienced through sensations, hoping that from many small details you could catch a glimpse of the whole life and traditions of this little piece of Calabria, still untouched by the mass tourism.

a list of nice sounds
Albanian flag in Civita
- arbëresh language and songs. arbëreshë people are a linguistic minority that settled in some southern Italy villages in 15th century, after the ottoman turk conquest of Albania. i think it's amazing that they still are able to speak their native language, cook the dishes of their own gastronomy, know how to dance and sing their traditional songs and keep their ethnic spirit alive. preserving customs for so long in a different country with such a strong identity and long history it's hard. in Civita there is an ethnic museum, bilingual signs and Albanian flags are everywhere. arbëreshë families still speak arbëresh language at home. 
popular Calabria melodies, played with the accordion, are frequently mixed up with arbëreshë songs. 

a shot from our popular music night 

 - the roaring water stream. it seems that the name Raganello comes from the latin word ragare, which means to drag. when it rains it is said that you can hear noises  in the river gorge, similar to those that make barrels when they roll along a cobbled street downhill.
Raganello's lower gorge, in San Lorenzo Bellizzi

- the silence at the Porta del Pollino. after we hiked in the national park's woods for a couple of hours, we reached a plateau with a wonderful panorama on the surrounding timpe. the silence was made solemn by the presence of  bosnian pines {pinus heldreichii}. the majestic trees watched over the horizon. some of them were dead, and just lied there like great sculptures, or oversized fossils.
bosnian pines in Pollino national park

a list of nice tastes and smells 
short premise: we ate way too much. be prepared if you go there.
- goat milk and goat ricotta. okay, i was an easy target, i love goat cheese. and cheese in general. and milk. but these were insanely good. the goats that graze on the timpe eat lots of aromatic herbs which makes their milk and cheese so rich in flavors.
drinking a glass of warm milk at breakfast made me feel like i was lying on a meadow, with herbs, flowers and a stunning landscape.
ricotta making at Azienda Agrituristica La Grotta, San Lorenzo Bellizzi

- real homemade traditional meals. from tagliatelle to the amazing salami, i loved that everything was local, made at home or in small farms. prosciutto, capocollo, soppressata... and you're still wondering why i said that i ate too much?
making pasta at Azienda Agrituristica Grampollina, San Lorenzo Bellizzi

- spice up your life. small, hot, red peppers are kings. as an ingredient, like inside the nduja {a spicy sausage}, or served by itself as a side dish, you'll meet it at any meal.
hot peppers in a small shop

- smell of oregano. walking on the timpe, we could smell it everywhere. fresh, fragrant oregano. we harvested two big bunches, and used it to make an infusion in the evening. it was relaxing and really helped our overstressed stomach. {thanks to Anna from green holiday italy for having this brilliant idea!}

a list of nice sights
- frank and proud faces. usually, it's the people we meet that make our travels special. even if we barely know them and just exchange a few words.
an old lady, an agriturismo owner, a view of a small square in San Lorenzo Bellizzi. the old lady talked to me in a very incomprehensible Calabria dialect, but i understood that she told me it was going to rain soon (i was very proud of myself). guess if she was right.

- small details of a simple faith. i like when faith is showed in a humble way. i could catch some details that can testimony the spirituality of the places we visited. a bell and a madonna icon in Santa Maria dell'Armi sanctuary; a crucifix in a bakery {did i mention that the bread was delicious, too? try the Cerchiara bread!}; a stone church surrounded by mountains.

- moving landscapes. here my favorite landscape shot of this trip. it was about to rain, just like the old lady  had said.

the view from Sant'Anna


  1. it's like coming back home, brava guagliuna!

  2. What a great country,Italy :)

    lovely pictures, Silvia!

  3. Avrei dovuto esserci anch'io in Calabria, ma quei giorni sono stata impegnata nel Salento. Peccato.. sarebbe stato bello conoscersi. intanto mi godo il tuo post! :D

    1. nuuu peccato! sarà per un'altra volta allora

  4. This is great, Silvia! Thank you for this wonderfully accurate portrait of Calabria and the Raganello Valley - it does sound like an incredible place! I had never been then myself, but I do hope I will have the chance to do so one day!

  5. Your words go so well with the pictures, spellbinding!

  6. I think that is my favourite I diari della lambretta's post! I love the faces, the smells, the tastes and the landscapes you have written about! Calabria is a beautiful and strong place with a lot of flavours like its hot peppers!

    1. wow, i'm glad you like it that much ♥
      thanks darling

  7. Ah che bel posto! Io di solito vado ogni estate proprio nel Parco Nazionale del Pollino per fare delle escursioni e godermi la natura, che, secondo me, è qualcosa di spettacolare da quelle parti! :)

    1. ci sono degli scenari toccanti, in una natura quasi intonsa. bello, bello.

  8. I love the airs of the land. The mountains, the green peace, it is just the closer we can get to the nature and it's just beautiful. Great pictures and pleasant blog, The Remembrall.

  9. oh, silvia, all these photos are just simply amazing!
    what a wonderful time you seem to have had. i love how you listed it by sounds and smells ♥ it really makes you feel like you're there ♥

    ps. hello! :)

    1. thank you toi ♥
      glad you're back, i've missed your blog updates!

  10. Sílvia this is incredible. Thank you for letting us see a little of what you had opportunity to see!


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