destination calabria:photo tour of a medieval village (part II)

We left off yesterday with a glance back at one of the abandoned parts of my village, and now it’s time to delve even deeper.

Here’s where we were.

calabria, southern italy

This is one of the original walls of the village that used to protect from invasions of pirates and the like.

calabria, southern italy

And here’s another angle of the same wall, which you can tell from the flowers growing out of it (remember, this was May when the photos were taken).

earthquake damage, calabria, southern italy

The big crack down the middle? Earthquake damage from at least the 1950s, but probably before then even as this area has been hit with quite a few big ones–the city of Reggio Calabria was leveled in 1908.

The village was also the victim of an alluvione, a flash flood that caused a mudslide, wiping off a good chunk of the village–that’s the part we’ve been walking through, and now we’re in a section that, although didn’t wash away, was where a lot of those houses landed.

calabria, southern italy

The village is situated up on a hill, which means a lot of steep inclines and declines, right Cherrye? This is a small one:

calabria, southern italy

And although this entire section of the village is completely abandoned, there are still some chickens, pigs, goats, etc., kept down here. And other stuff.

rusty old ape, calabria, southern italy

If you keep walking, you’ll eventually get to the lowest church in the village, Chiesa della Provvidenza, built in 1598, which puts her in the younger half of the thirteen churches in the village.

chiesa della provvidenza, calabria, southern italy

She’s also one of my favorites because the town celebrates la Madonna di Provvidenza on the first Sunday in July–which means that every year, there’s a cook-out and fireworks at least sometime around the 4th of July, which is nice for this American.

Plus the church kind of reminds me of a gingerbread house, and they always make me smile.

On the left side of the above photo, do you see the small wooden cross that looks like it was built to face the church? I couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

wooden cross, calabria, southern italy

I’m not sure if there is any special significance, but I do know that there was a tragic accident near there many years ago involving young children playing with explosives they found; as legend goes, after World War II, many soldiers literally dropped their weapons and ammunition where they were standing when they heard the war was over, and every now and again, there is word of someone finding something from that time period.

P tells me there were some explosives that resembled sardine cans with a peel-back lid, so one could see how children might get curious.

And this is where Luna lost all patience and ran off towards home without me. Photo tour cut short on that lovely Sunday morning in May.

I hope to take another one soon, though, and I’ll be sure to share what I see.

On yesterday’s post, there were a few questions in the comments regarding the state of the village, how it got this way, what’s happening now, etc., and I promise to answer them all in due time. It’ll require preparing a short yet interesting history lesson, which I promise to work on over the weekend if you promise to come back to learn.

Would it help if I guarantee a mention of the Holy Grail?


[tags]calabria, medieval villages, southern italy, badolato[/tags]

51 Beans of Wisdom to “destination calabria:photo tour of a medieval village (part II)”
  1. kissa

    I love looking at falling down buildings and imagining the life bthat happened there before. Sad and happy intertwined. The photos of your village are delightful thanks for sharing them.

  2. Poppy Fields

    The little town I work in is of medieval origin. Not much is left though apart from the circular form of the village and parts of the old walls. I would love to go on one of your walks with you, it looks beautiful there in Calabria.

  3. qualcosa di bello

    everytime i look at beautiful old run-down homes (most especially italian ones), i want to bring them back to life & live there! i have had the loveliest blog-reads this week, between you & farfallina’s abandoned villages…mille grazie!

  4. Jeni

    I came, commented, hit publish and it looked like it did it’s thing but instead, now it looks like blogger ate m comment, so here goes another try.
    Your pics of the little village are truly beautiful. Now, if your history lesson is even half as good as your geographic tour, I’m quite sure it will then be excellent.

  5. witnessing am i

    There is something unspeakably beautiful about a village that has earthquake damage, flood damage, has survived a few world wars and yet keeps a quant loveliness of stone houses and cobbled streets, poppies and blue skies. Much like a beautiful woman.

    These are wonderful, Sognatrice, thank you for sharing.

  6. LaurinainItalia

    These posts are amazing Sognatrice. I love looking at your village (and Luna). It is sad to see areas abandoned, but I think in a strange way it’s almost beautiful…maybe because here if anything is abandoned, it is pretty much bulldozed and built over.But from your photos you can imagine what life was once like and almost feel a presence of families that lived there. I want to hear more….!

  7. sognatrice

    Kissa, glad you liked them; I find this kind of thing awfully enchanting as well…I’ve already spent a lot of time just staring, thinking, and writing, but perhaps it’s time to pick up a paintbrush and/or pencil too. Just too inspirational, I tell you.

    Meredith, you’re welcome to come on a walk anytime (so long as you don’t mind a canine companion) πŸ˜‰

    Qualcosa, I think the revitalization aspect is a huge part of it–I can sit for hours imagining how an old, falling down house *could* look.

    Jeni, dang Blogger! Glad you tried again. Now I feel a bit of pressure about the history lesson, but I shall do my best πŸ™‚

    David, the village has seen/experienced/survived so much even though there’s not a whole lot of life now. You just may have pinpointed where all that inspiration comes from. I love when you do that.

    Laura, there is something special about seeing what was right in the spot it used to be. You’re right–not the same feeling if there’s now a parking lot over it πŸ™

  8. Karina

    I’ve enjoyed going on these walks with you Sognatrice! Beautiful pictures and a lovely narrative to go with them. I anxiously await the history lesson.

  9. Ritardo "Gar the Conqueror"

    they really need to fix that place up and add a mall.

  10. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    okay that last comment about the mall was hilarious.

    Thanks for the tour sognatrice! Belle foto.

  11. Erin

    That was fun! I wish I could really walk there and see all the beauty first hand. What a wonderful place to live : )

  12. Sharon

    Oh my…a Mall?? That is too funny.
    I love everything about these two posts.

  13. Mike


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  14. One Smart Cookie

    These pictures are so beautiful. I am eagerly awaiting your history lesson! I can’t wait to learn more!

  15. Jen

    Have you read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke? I think a large part of it may have been set in Calabria – your village and the surrounding hills look so like her descriptions of where the villains were holed up.

  16. Greg

    I visited Italy many years ago now, missing out on the small charming villages. I’ve been haunted by the idea of returning to Italy ever since. Thank you for your photos and post.

  17. The Passionate Palate

    This was a fantastic scenic journey! A nice break from work. Thanks for the tour and one of these days I’ll bring my doggeis to join you and Luna on that hike!

  18. Taffiny

    love the tour. Wish I could walk there too.
    so steep, so step slowly.

    What a sad story about the children, fell lightly but deeply into me. LIke snow, so soft, then so cold.

    (pssst, Sognatrice, ask David, what exactly he equates with water damage on a woman?)

  19. somepinkflowers

    holey, moley…
    the Holy Grail is next?

    you are such a tease, sometimes…


    i will come back to see
    the Holy Grail part,
    you got me….

  20. Veronica TM

    what a wonderful tour! thank you!
    and that church…a beauty.

  21. Tarie

    Hello, hello. πŸ™‚ Your post has reminded me of my desire to one day visit Italy.

  22. sognatrice

    Karina, glad you liked–history t come!

    Ritardo, the photo after I wrote of the flash flood? That *is* our mall. Sheesh.

    NYC, thanks for coming along πŸ™‚

    Erin, invitation is open!

    Sharon, glad you enjoyed πŸ™‚

    Mike, a firm maybe.

    Cookie, it was the Holy Grail thing, wasn’t it? That’s why you’re excited?

    Jen, no I haven’t, but I’m guessing it was set a little further south of here in the Aspromonte Mountains (I’m planning on doing a somewhat related post; thanks for reminding me). Hmm…a full week of Calabria next week. There’s a thought πŸ˜‰

    Greg, I know the feeling–Italy’s persistent/stubborn that way. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, and thanks for stopping by!

    Jeni, do you have girl or boy dogs? This is a very important consideration πŸ˜‰

    Taffiny, hmm…David? Hello? Tragedies involving children always touch me deeply too–wondering what their lives could’ve been and why they were taken from us so soon. Heartbreaking.

    SPF, I knew it! Glad I mentioned the Grail, otherwise what if I never saw you again?!

    Veronica, that church is actually one of the least-imposing for it being so large and off by itself; many of the 13 churches, for example, are so tucked into the village that you can barely see them, so surely they are unimposing–then there are a couple that are so grand and magnificent. This strikes a nice balance, I think.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Tarie, glad to be of service πŸ˜‰

  23. MΓ©lanie

    This little church is so wonderful !! I would love to pray in it but I would also like to be married in it …

  24. Figs Olives Wine

    I love that “gingerbread” church too! And a history lesson sounds fabulous. What fabulous photos again, Michele! I just nominated you for a Droolworthy Blogger award – pop over to my site when you have a chance to check it out. And let me know if you nominate any of your own!

  25. Mallow

    Looking forward to your history lesson!

  26. witnessing am i

    Sognatrice (and Taffiny) _ Tears perhaps.

  27. Expat Traveler

    how beautiful! Definitely something I’d enjoy a lot…

  28. sognatrice

    MΓ©lanie, looks like you like to daydream too…fun πŸ™‚

    Amanda, thanks so much! What an honor! I aim, then, to keep you drooling πŸ™‚

    Mallow, coming up!

    David, ah yes–every woman has certainly had those, although hopefully more of joy than of sadness….

    Expat, thanks, and thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  29. Becca

    Those pictures are great! And i love hearing about the history of such places. It’s good to know there are still some beautiful towns left untouched by too many tourist and modernization. These days everyone seems to want new and improved but I would much prefer the old and storied. πŸ˜‰

  30. Taffiny

    bit of a tangent,
    David’s reply made me think of, how you can see sorrow in some people’s faces, even when they are seemingly happy, because their faces have been held in sorrow for so long, it’s shape has been set by it, a straight line mouth, a turned down one, a certain look to the eyes, the lines, the wrinkles, etched by time and sorrow.

  31. Merisi

    I love these kind of villages and stories, thank you for sharing.
    The photo with the wall to the right and the flowers and the green shrub with the azzurro sky and the clouds is gorgious.

  32. odessa

    sognatrice, can you adopt me even for just a month? i so want to live in your medieval village! =)

    thanks for sharing your gorgeous pics.

  33. Scribbit

    The pictures are so lovely and I was getting very sentimental over how picturesque they are and then saw the one with the abandoned car. It kind of cracked me up, somehow I never really imagined Italy having junk cars in such romantic places πŸ™‚

  34. Kristen

    I’ve really enjoyed your photo tour. So much history.

  35. Anonymous

    Ciao Sognatrice
    I enjoyed your ‘virtual tour’ and would love to see more. I live in Canada, but was born in Orsara di Puglia, a medieval village of about 3,000 people (8,000 in the 1950’s)that looks a lot like yours-just bigger. I recently purchased my late zio’s abandoned little house (450 sq. feet.
    Your note about the cross reminded me of a similar story. About 10 yrs ago, I was in Orsara and went for a walk with my Papa and his good friend Emilio. We walked by the old cemetary and one of the family crypts was open. I noticed that 5 children from this family all died on the same day in 1946, and the mother almost exactly 2 years later. The children ranged in age from 2-12.
    Emilio told me that he, my zio, and several other children were with the 12 year old boy when they found a metal box in the canal. They took the ‘treasure’ home to see what was inside. Emilio and my zio had to go home, as they had dawdled for a long time, and were seriously late, and Emilio was afraid he’d get a beating for forgetting to buy bread. Their friend took the box home and he and all his siblings had their curious little faces right in there, ready to see what was inside.
    Of course, the metal box was a mine, and the explosion was heard everywhere, even in the field that the parents were just leaving.
    The mother was pregnant, and she died about a year after her baby was born. They say she just wasn’t the same after the explosion and died of a broken heart.
    The crypt was built for his siblings and mother by ‘the baby’ who never knew his family, but grew up to be a successful lawyer. When Emilio told me this story in the cemetary, I had shivers going up my spine. I thought your readers might appreciate it. Cristina (

  36. sognatrice

    Becca, for right now we’re basically untouched, although we do get quite a few tourists especially in August–families returning as well as a lot of northern Italians and other Europeans. A *little* more tourism wouldn’t hurt b/c the economy could use it, but no one wants to end up like Siena or Cortona either–it’s a hard balance.

    Taffiny, would you believe I was just talking about that with Cherrye (My Bella Vita) a couple weeks ago? She mentioned that one of her friends always said something to the effect that “your face remembers,” so that if it’s used to being down-turned, it’ll be that way out of habit. I fully believe this–there *are* some people who just always look sad, angry, etc. I hope that’s not me or you!!!

    Merisi, thanks; I really like that photo too, although I debated on whether to put it up here–don’t want to put up too many, so I want them to be most representative, but that one was just too fun to leave out. I always get a bit of vertigo looking at it, which is why I like it, I think πŸ™‚

    Odessa, well I’d have to talk it over with P, but I’m thinking we could work something out….

    Scribbit, you’ve described exactly why I wanted to include that photo–here is, for better or worse, just like anywhere else at the very heart of it.

    Kristen, thanks, and thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

    Cristina, thanks so much for sharing that story–how heartbreaking to realize that probably every village has a similar story connected to children and war toys. Tragic, also, about the mother, although I can’t say it’s surprising–I can’t even imagine trying to deal with such a tragedy.

    Thanks again for sharing and for stopping by.

  37. alicia

    All of these pictures are so gorgeous! I am truly envious of the beauty that surrounds you!

  38. Confessions of Cleopantha

    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    l am so intrigued about these abandoned villages l will be back to learn more. Grazie for sharing this with us, it is so interesting.

  39. My Melange

    So cute. I love the little chruch..and so sad about the kids:(
    Uh…did you say Holy Grail….I’ll stay tuned!!!

  40. modelbehavior

    You probably don’t care but ‘Destination Calabria’ is also the name of this whacky house song that’s really popular right now!!! Sounds like a great trip!

  41. farmgirl

    These photos are wonderful. What a gorgeous area you live in. I just discovered your blog via Figs Olives Wine and look forward to reading more! : )

  42. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

    Wow, what beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing them with us!

  43. Blame It on Paris

    These are lovely. Thanks for sharing (and the last post, too).

  44. Nadine

    I love these pictures. I always wanted to visit somewhere with such rich history.

  45. sognatrice

    Alicia, Cleopantha, JennDZ and Laura, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know you like the photos!

    Robin, the Grail story has been revealed πŸ˜‰

    Model, actually I did know that; so many people have found my blog looking for that song that I finally looked it up. The “video” thing is really quite creepy, but I figured I might as well get more SEO love out of the whole thing πŸ˜‰

    Farmgirl, welcome! I’m glad you like what you see, and I hope to see you around some more πŸ™‚

    Nadine, come on down πŸ˜‰

  46. Dana

    Such beautiful pictures! The story of the town is so sad and yet romantic in some ways at the same time.

  47. JennieBoo

    Oh, I just LOVE the pics in this post.

    I also enjoyed the post. So thought provoking, these abandoned areas, you know?

    Thank you!

  48. Wanderlust Scarlett

    I love, love, LOVE the tour.
    How wonderful!
    Thank you, it’s quite a lot of hard work and I appreciate every single bit of it!

    Feels like I’m strolling through it.

    Very nice!

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  49. Kathy

    I love these pics, and the stories with them. Thanks!

  50. sognatrice

    Dana, Jennie, Scarlett, Kathy–thanks so much to all of you for taking the time to leave a comment on this post and others; it truly means a lot to me πŸ™‚

  51. Lizzie

    Fascinating post. Oh gosh, stories of children and accidents with explosives – truly heartbreaking :0(
    It’s a lovely surprise to see pictures of your village though. Thanks so much for sharing these.

    Glad you enjoyed the photos Lizzie! You remind me I should do a photowalk before the weather gets consistently blech.

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake