It is one of the most populated provinces in Italy and the eighth for extension. With its 367 miles of coast, the Province of Cosenza occupies 44.1% of the surface of Calabria, essentially the entire central and northern part of the region.
Calabria's singular landscape is characterized by mountains and hills. It runs from the Ionian Coast in the east to the Tyrrhenian shores in the west, from the massif of Pollino in the north to the plateau of Sila grande. There are also plains, like the one of Sibari, and big valleys, as for example in Crati. Hilly areas slope down to the North and to the East of the Sila Greca. Everything is characterized by great variety, even from coast to coast and on every massif. The visitor remains disoriented and fascinated at the same time.
The Province hosts eight mountain communities: Greca/Destra Crati, Alto Ionio, Pollino, Alto Tirreno/Appennino Paolano, Savuto, Delle Valli/Media Valle Crati, Silana and Media Valle Crati/Serre Cosentine.
The territory of Cosenza, as with the rest of Calabria, exhibits traces of history, beginning with the prehistoric period. On the coast are Neolithic sites attesting to human presence. The water flows have been important travel routes since the Magna Graecia and Roman periods. In the Middle Ages, this land was conquered by the Byzantines, who brought benefits to the economy of the territory with the introduction of new agricultural techniques, sericultural production, and the promotion of social aggregation. The results are still evident in the elegant and refined architecture, as well as those of the Normans, the Angevins, the Aragonese and the Spaniards, who all left their mark in the following centuries.
Cosenza, known as the City of the Bruzi, is one of the most ancient cities of Calabria and is situated on seven hills in the valley of Crati, where it meets the Busento River. Due to its cultural past, it was known as the Athens of Italy; today, it houses the largest university campus in the nation.
The old city is characterized by steep and narrow alleyways and, during recent years is experiencing a renewed vibrancy. The historic center is one of the most beautiful and ancient of Italy, for its monumental buildings, manor houses, urban plan, and labyrinth of streets around the old buildings and churches.
The city's cultural activities are well-developed, thanks in part to theatrical events held in locations like the traditional Teatro A. Rendano, the historical Cinemateatro Italia and the Teatro Stabile d’Innovazione of Calabria. The Accademia Cosentina, as well, promotes culture, artists and scientists.
The Brettii Museum - officially opened in the 15th-Century monumental complex of Sant'Agostino in 2009 - represents the city's cultural heart. Included in Cosenza's cultural endowments are the Museum of the Rimembranze and the Bilotti Open-Air Museum.
Then Rocca Imperiale overlooks the Ionian Sea and borders with Basilicata. The inhabited area is dominated by a Fortress, built by Frederick II.
Rende is an ancient Roman settlement between the streams of Emoli and Surdo, subsequently developed in the Crati Valley; here the Normans constructed the castle and surrounding walls. Corigliano Calabro dates to Medieval times, and is dominated by an imposing castle. The ancient district of Ognissanti developed as a stairway upon a hill, characterized by its narrow and evocative streets.
In Rossano, the Giorgio Amarelli Museum of Liquorice and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art deserve a visit, while in Praia a Mare the Museo Comunale displays works by contemporary artists. Mormanno, on the other hand, still bears traces of its Lombard foundations, perched as a castle on a rocky buttress.
The variety of the landscapes here makes the territory of Cosenza the ideal place for long trekking excursions. Its iconic animal is the wolf that lives on the woody plateau outside the city and is still the symbol for Cosenza.
Trekking routes lead to the discovery of small churches and wonderful landscapes that can be admired from charming wooden bridges. The flat, hilly areas are often exploited for horseback riding. And photography enthusiasts can find plenty of inspiration. During wintertime, organized snowshoe excursions in the mountains are popular, while ski establishments are located in the highest areas of the Sila National Park.
The National Park of Pollino offers opportunities to practice rafting and canoeing, especially on the River Lao, among canyons and gorges. During recent years, Nordic walking has become more widespread, as it is a light and easy sport suitable for everybody. Canyoning, on the other hand, may be practiced climbing up the Iannello stream, a tributary of the Lao that is characterized by several waterfalls. During the excursions, guides provide rope for rock-climbing.
Water parks can be found along the coast, like Odissea 2000, in Zolfara, near Rossano, and the coastline is well-equipped for water sports, from wind surfing to water skiing, as well as for beach volleyball and five-a-side football. Inland, many fairs and festivals offer opportunities to taste typical dishes and discover local traditions.
The culinary specialties of the Province of Cosenza are based on its genuine and simple products. The cuddrurieddri are salted doughnuts prepared for the Immacolata Feast and during the Christmas period. The turididdri are fried Christmas pastries covered with figs and honey, while the scaliddre are sugar-glazed.
An example of a first-course dish is the pitta 'mpigliata, fresh fusilli, pasta with potatoes (tijeddra), fried potatoes and pipareddre (peppers), broccoli and sausages, lagane and ciciari (thick tagliatelle and chickpeas), and fresh pasta with mushrooms fromSila. Among the fish dishes, the most famous are fried cod and spaghetti with anchovies and fried breadcrumbs.
Mostaccioli are the typical pastries for the Feast of Saint Joseph, consisting of a focaccia bread made with honey or figs, mulled wine, flour and almonds, in a particular shape deriving from ancient offerings to the pagan gods.
We also recommend the anise liqueur, one of the most appreciated of the area.