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View of Cosenza
by Jesse Andrews

Teatro Rendano, Cosenza

Piazza in Cosenza
by Jesse Andrews

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Welcome to Cosenza
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 71,792 (2003)
Official website:
Map: MapQuest

Cosenza (population 104,000), a provincial capital in Calabria, stands at the confluence of two rivers.  The old town, overshadowed by its castle, descends to the River Crati, whereas the growing modern city lies to the north, beyond the Busento, on level ground.  The historic city centre is crossed by the winding Corso Telesio.

George Gissing's Observations:

"To call the town picturesque is to use an inadequate word," wrote George Gissing in his 1901 travelogue, By The Ionian Sea. "At every step, from the opening of the main street at the hill-foot up to the stern medieval castle crowning its height, one marels and admires.  So narrow are the ways that a cart drives the pedestrian into shop or alley; two vehicles (but perhaps the thing never happened) would with difficulty pass each other."

A Brief History of the City:

Cosenza succeeds Cosentia, the capital of the Bruttians, which came early under the influence of the Greek settlements of Magna Graecia.  Taken by Rome in 204 BC, in imperial times it was an important stop on the Via Popilia, linking Rome with Reggio and Sicily.  Alaric the Visigoth died here in AD 412 (probably Malaria) on his way back to Sicily after the sack of Rome.  Legend holds that he was buried along with his treasurer in the bed of the Busento River, the waters having been diverted for the occasion and then restored to their natural channel.  Twice destroyed by the Saracens, the town was conquered by Robert Guiscard, but it rebelled against the rule of his half-brother Roger, who managed to restore his authority only after a siege (1087).  In the 13C, 14C and 15C the city shifted its loyalties several times in the struggle between the Aragonese and the Angevins, and Louis III of Anjou died here in 1434 while campaigning against the Aragonese. 

A notable centre of humanistic culture in the 16C, Cosenza was the birth place of philosopher Bernardino Telesio (1509-88), whose ideas were instrumental in freeing scientific research from theological restrictions.  The city contributed freely to the liberal movement in the 19C and participated in the uprisings of 1848 and 1860.  It was damaged by earthquakes in 1783, 1854, 1870 and 1905, and frequently bombed in 1943.  Today it is an important commercial and agricultural centre.  The University of Calabria, Italy's newest and most modern, lies on the outskirts to the north.

Like many towns on the Tyrrhenian Coast, Belvedere has one eye to the future on its waterfront which brings in revenue from tourism, and one eye to its past, in the mountains behind, where the real history and intrigue of Belvedere can be found.  Known as  Belvedere Paese,  this part of the town is located two kilometres inland from the Autostrada (SS18). 

The highest part of the town, and that which it is built around, is a Norman castle (constructed by Ruggero il Normanno in the 1600's).  The castle is one of the largest footprints the Normanís have left on the Cedri Riviera. The gates around the circumference of the castle are of particular interest and are indicative of the detail that went into all aspects of the construction.  (Look to the photograph to the right (upper hand) for an example). 

The castle, at the town's highest point, gives way to a labyrinth of streets, manifested in myriad colours, and plentiful art. Known for modern ceramic and sculpture works, the footways here expose those passing by to an outdoor Mediterranean art gallery.

Some of the most detailed works are found in the most unusual corners, and out of the way places, which makes exploring the alleyways and stairways of Belvedere a constant joy.  These byways are more refined and well-tended than those in other villages along the coast.

As you walk, take notice of the ornate baroque balconies, arches, doors and other man-made features.  And note too, the tall Palms (like those in Beverly Hills) surround the main piazza.

Region of Calabria

The Cedri Riviera



Amantea - 43 km;
Lamezia Terme - 75 km;
Catanzaro - 98 km;
Vibo Valentia - 101 km;
Praia A Mare - 106 km;
Crotone - 108 km;
Tropea - 119 km;
Reggio Calabria - 193 km;
Salerno - 264 km;
Naples - 317 km;
Rome - 524 km






Tell us about your trip to Cosenza.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Talk Italy Forum
Want to take the Scenic Route? Read Paul Blanchar's "Road from Paola"