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Verbicaro from above
by Jesse Andrews


Relaxing at Verbicaro
by Jesse Andrews





Interior of church, Verbicaro
by Jesse Andrews

 

Most photos on VisitsItaly are by Jesse Andrews. Please Contact VisitsItaly.Com for reproduction of any kind at: team@italyvacationspecialists.com

Welcome to Verbicaro
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 3,514 (2003)
Official site:
Verbicaro
Wikipedia:
n/a
Map:
MapQuest

The village of Verbicaro sprawls over the hills of a cavernous valley immersed between the wind-swept, balding mountains on either side.  The town’s strategic position 400 meters above the sparkling Tyrrhenian coast provides a sensational panoramic of the Calabrian hinterland and seascape below. 

The village is one of the most ancient in Calabria settled by the Saraceni, a pre-Roman, nomadic tribe.  Overtime, Verbicaro has been ruled by numerous empires, including those of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Barbarian, Spanish and French. 

The succession of empires present in the area have each left their mark on Verbicaro.  The reminders of the previously occupying empires are omnipresent throughout the large, predominantly medieval, historical centre.  They take the form of engravings on arched doorways and numerous carvings abiding the towns stone walls.  One fascinated in history could easily spend days sauntering through the village examining one anthropological treasures after another.

For those who have little time to spend in Verbicaro, the Byzantine church “Santa Maria ad Nives” is one of many jewels of the town, not to be missed.  It is home to recently divulged Byzantine frescoes, surprisingly vivid in colour despite their age.  In addition to these spectacular Byzantine works of art, the church is also home to a 17th century statue of Mary and child, dressed in traditional Spanish costume as well as two other wood-carved crosses which date to the 16th and 17th centuries. 

To access the church, visitors
need to approach “Maria” who lives directly in front in a small dwelling with a yellow door.  She doesn’t speak English, but she’ll know what you’re there for.  If Maria isn’t home when you are visiting Verbicaro, you can also obtain the keys to the church from the Commune, which is on route to the church.

Regardless the locals will help you to gain access by contacting the families who are in possession of the keys.  This procedure may seem difficult and time consuming, but as I found out on my visit to Verbicaro, the villagers’ eagerness to help travellers in the area is a large part of the  town's charm.  With their help, you will gain insight and be privileged perhaps even to a tour by a local who has the time, to landmarks you wouldn’t otherwise locate by yourself. 

One villager I met on my trip to Verbicaro, Signor “Cirella” not only helped me locate Maria, who had the keys to the church, he guided me through the dense and complicated streets with numerous twists, turns and staircases which eventually lead to a large grey-stone doorway with a sculpture of a Greek Deity engraved at its centre.

Directly beside the door, carved into the stone wall, was a face, trickled over by the leaves of a cascading plant, obviously ancient and incredibly beautiful.  Without Signor Cirella I don’t believe I would have ever made my way, nor perhaps have even noticed any of these small details, had I merely been passing by.  That being said, if a villager takes it upon his/herself to be your personal tour guide, my advice would be to accept they help. 

Cirella also tried to show me the interior of a Byzantine Church, presently under repair.  He wanted me to see the tombs that were recently located below the floor of the church, believed by Italian historians to be placed there just after the Barbarian invasions in Roman times. Though the construction workers didn’t allow us entry and didn’t have much information to provide me with, they did inform me that in 2005 the findings of the excavation would be released, some of which would be on display at Verbicaro’s municipal museum located at the city hall.

Aside from the numerous historical artefacts and monuments, ancient charming churches and hospitable people, Verbicaro has acres and acres of vineyards that coast along the valley floor, next to a small river.  The site of the vineyards upon the rolling valley floor is visually impressive and makes for great photographs as the landscape in many ways is reminiscent of the rolling hills of Tuscany’s Chianti region.  The wine made by the grapes harvested in Verbicaro’s vineyards has been enjoyed by emperors since Roman times.  The wine produced in this region is now considered to by Italian Wine experts and critics around the world to be Calabria’s best wine. 

Verbicaro D.O.C wine (a classification of the highest standard of Italian Wines), which comes from the region, most notably the white “Moscato” and “Zibibbo” versions, are dry, sweet and aromatic.  They can be purchased by the local producers known as the “cantina”.  If you’re lucky enough to be travelling in the months of September and early October, you may be honoured to catch a glimpse of the wine-making process in one of these “cantina”.  It’s a fascinating practice and is often accompanied by the drinking of last year’s wine with numerous assortments of cheese also produced in the area.

The tradition of wine making, is only one of many recognizable century-old practices throughout the village. A series of traditional festivals throughout the year, town celebrations and artisan markets are each worthy of a visitor’s time, though dependent upon time of travel of course.

The combination of such elements of tradition, religion, history, culture and art, no matter what time of year a visit is made, combine to make Verbicaro one of Calabria’s most mesmerizing places.  Upon stepping into the town’s historical centre, the activities and rapid pace of the modern world slip away, may leave many visitors feeling like I did, as though I had stepped into a quiet, blissfully untouched, historical garden. 

Region of Calabria

The Cedri Riviera

 

Directions

To get to Verbicaro follow the SS 18, which is the major highway along the Cedri Riviera.  There are two turn offs that take you to Verbicaro and you can take either one of them.  Both lead to the small town of Marcellina.  Here, you need to follow the signs closely that lead on to a distinctive street that is the only once that accesses Verbicaro. Follow this street for about 25 minutes. 

Directory

 


One rose at Verbicaro
by Jesse Andrews

 

 

 

Contributions

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