Jesse's Journeys in Italy
Population: 4,493 (2003)
Official site: n/a
Altomonte, is a small gem of
a town in the heart of Calabria's
"Entroterra". It has earned
the nickname "Spoleto
of the South", taking its name from the famous
town in Italy's north. Like
Altomonte sits high on a hill, in a patchwork
quilt of green.
Altomonte, or "high mountain" as the town's
name translates to English,
stands at the centre of a spectacularly beautiful
scene. With the Appenines at its back, it
faces the Ionian coast in the distance,
delivering some of Calabria's most fantastic
Unlike some of the other Calabrian towns that have been
left to disintegrate these fabulous panoramas are not the only
thing which remain to glorify Altomonte.
Quite the contrary.
When you travel to Altomonte you will find a
Civic Museum, several gorgeous Gothic style
churches and chic wine bars, delightful cafes
and good restaurants like the Restaurant Barbieri,
where you can eat as well - or better - than
in most restaurants in allegedly more
It won't take you long to discover the pride the
local people have in their history and
traditions. It manifests itself everywhere
- in Altomonte's clean streets and well kept
buildings, and in the good graces of the people.
always some type of festival happening in
Altomonte, usually corresponding to the harvest
of different types of foods. For example, in
fall you will find festivals devoted to
There is also a relatively new wine festival in
November and a peach festival during the summer.
also built a wonderful museum in the old convent
adjacent to the Chiesa Santa Maria della
Consolazione, where you will find a plethora
of artifacts dating back to the bronze age, and
numerous paintings by important artists such as
Francesco Solimena, Giuseppe Castellano,
Pietro Negroni, Paolo di Ciacio,
Simone Martini and Bernardo Daddi,
and others. Keep an eye out for the "Altarolo
con storie della Passione" by brothers
Antonio and Onofrio Penna - a real and
The tradition of fine art being commissioned in
Altomonte began with Fillipo Sangineto, who was
the great grandson of Ruggero I San Gineto.
Fillipo, during his time as Count he saught the
services of a the famous Tuscan artist, Simone
Martini, to create three, 8 x 10 carvings in gold,
of famous saints and bishops. The wors are
immaculately well-preserved and are the first to
meet visitors upon entrance to the museum.
we say, visit on your way to or from somewhere
else. Altomonte, however, is one of those
places you should make a destination.
Altomonte, the saying is, time goes according to
Spend a day (or two or three) and sink into its
ambience, stroll its streets, enjoy its cuisine,
meet its people. And make plans to return
again - soon.
by Jesse Andrews, November 2nd, 2005
Signor Barbieri, is the proprietor of the famous
Hotel Ristorante Barbieri and the
Bottega di Casa. When visiting
Altmonte we always enjoy his immense
hospitality, but also the fabulous Calabrian
cuising prepared by his expert chefs and cooks.