Travelling south of Rome – Civita and the Pollino natural park

View of Civita
View of Civita

Civita (CS) is a tiny village in Calabria (Italy) and a part of the Pollino natural park. It’s a great place for nature, activities and food. I ended up here with my best friend almost by mistake and was only able to stay a day, but I highly recommend spending at least a weekend here because there are lots of things to do.

The easiest and least demanding activity is to go for a walk or a hike following the trails or suggestions from locals. Be aware that some trails are not that well indicated but anyone you meet will be happy to show you the way. Also remember to wear suitable shoes because some mule tracks can hide snakes. The bravest people will be rewarded with beautiful surroundings and panoramic views over the park and valley.

We went for a walk down to the ‘ponte del Diavolo’ (the Devil’s bridge), Civita’s main attraction, and up again towards the top of the mountain. We didn’t reach the summit because we only had six hours of daylight (we had a very long breakfast) and got lost, but even so the view was amazing. On one side you could still see the snow on the summit, then there are rocks with a few sparse bushes and on the other side, green fields with flowers and sheep, all the way up to the sea, a thin line on the horizon.

In winter it is also possible to do the ‘ciaspolata’ (a hike with snowshoes) with an experienced guide. Guides are also needed in late spring and summer for activities such as horseriding, rafting and canoeing, or even more exciting, for rafting down gorges and rock climbing.

If you do have the chance to get all the way to the top of the Pollino mountain (almost 2000m) you will be able to see the famous ‘pino loricato’, the ancient tree that the park is known for.

More information (unfortunately only in Italian) here.

Keep in mind that Civita is very small and isolated: there’s only one ATM in the whole village and it is often out of order due to connection problems, so make sure you have some cash when you go to the restaurant, or you could stop in Frascineto (7km) to get some cash.

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Sleeping

The ‘la Ginestra’ bed and breakfast is beautifully located in the centre of the small village and close to a panoramic terrace. The owner, Ms Dina, treats her guests as if they are family and personally prepares everything you will find on your table in the morning: cakes, biscuits, pancakes, quiches, jam and juices. You will start the day with a full belly: delicious.

Her son, Gianluca, knows the area very well and can tell you stories and give you information about the park and the history of Civita, which is also home to the unique Arbresh culture and language (an ancient version of Albanian).

The rooms are clean, spacious and nicely furnished. An interesting treat is the coffee and tea machine you can use for free and the handcrafted soap. Great price too: €70 for a double per night, breakfast obviously included.

Website

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Eating

We were sent to the Agorà restaurant by Gianluca, on the promise of good meat dishes. We followed his advice and ended up having dinner there both days. I had never eaten such tasty and tender meat in my life! We tried the ‘rollè di maiale’ (rolled pork) and the ‘capretto in umido’ (kid stew): amazing. I also highly recommend the ‘ricottina’ (fresh cheese) as a starter, but I would recommend you not to get tempted by all the starters because even though they are very good they will fill you up before you get to the real stuff!

The pasta is handmade and delicious with a wide choice of sauces (meat and vegetarian), ask the waiter for advice on the specialties.

We were so happy and satisfied with the food that we left a generous tip, especially because we ended up paying only €15 per person for starter, meat dish and drinks.

Website

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