"Cosenza, the Capital of Calabria" Cosenza by mapakettle

Cosenza Travel Guide: 13 reviews and 23 photos

Cosenza, at a glance

Cosenza, the capital of Calabria, has a population of almost 75,000, is situated in the valley of the Crati and Busento rivers, about 500 kms from Rome, and is serviced by regular train service from Naples.

The Region of Calabria is the 'foot' part of Italy, and not to be mistaken for the 'heel' portion. The southern penninsula receives very little rainfall, and the mountainess terrain makes for a very rugged farming environment, for which the people who work the land have adapted with great ingenuity.

Incomes within the region, vary of course, but in general terms, salaries for the male population are about half of what their cousins in the northern parts of Italy receive. This, in spite of the University of Cosenza, which has gained great respect throughout the world during the 25 years it has been operating. Good paying jobs are highly sought after, and in great demand by those who wish to remain a part of the social fabric of Cosenza.

Unfortunately, industry lies to the north, and tourism is very much in it's infancy stages in Cosenza, as it is in many parts of Calabria.

Church is at the heart of Italian culture, and nowhere more so than in the Calabria region, with well over 200 churches, and a population of whom 98% practice the Roman Catholic religion.

Many generations of families reside under one roof in this area of Italy, which makes for very warm and strong family ties. Once again, children are precious, and remain at the centre of any family makeup. The elders are highly respected, and hold a position of importance within the community.

First impressions...

First impressions...Cosenza is much larger than either Ma Kettle or I had originally imagined. Much more modern, well kept, and seemingly lots of new construction everywhere you look. We were prepared for donkey's in the street, woman washing their laundry in the streams, not this new and thriving community. Ma Kettle had kept her visions alive with stories of 'what was', strictly from memories of her mother's early life, relived countless times during meal time in Canada.

We both knew better, but somehow the romantic past is more inviting, than present day life.

Fashion here, holds as much fascination as it does in any other part of Italy, with numerous shoe salons, and the latest colours of scarves or jackets adorning the mannekins within the shop windows. Prices appear to be within reason, and oddly, given the distances involved from the manufacturing cities to the north, many prices in local stores were somewhat lower from similiar outlets in Milan or Florence. Case in point, I purchased a very good pair of sandles made by Valleverde for about 15 euro less than the exact ones I'd priced a few weeks earlier.


Why we were here...

We were in this portion of Calabria, for the sole purpose of re-visiting Maria's birth place. Ma Kettle had been born in Cosenza over 50 years before, but had never had the opportunity to return until now.

We met her Mom and sister who flew into the airport in Lamazia from Canada, so it was a reunion with her immediate family as well.

Unfortunately, bus service into Cosenza is spotty at best. We were staying at La Gran Savana hotel in Amantea, and buses left early in the morning (before 8am) in order to service students bound for Cosenza University, and the return bus picked up the same students for the return trip early in the afternoon. (school generally runs six days a week in Italy, with classes letting out about 1pm)

Upon arrival in Cosenza, Ma Kettle and I split up, leaving her mom and sister to visit with the family of friends from Canada whom we did not know, with trusty camera in hand. Unfortunately, two rolls of film have disappeared, so pictures of this town are rather scarce I'm afraid.

We did manage to walk Corso Mazzini, which was in the throes of reconstruction, and from what we could see, will have countless shops lining this strictly pedestrian piazza. The streets were torn up, with new cobbled stone street surfaces being laid, fountains to be hooked up, and benches being set along both sides of the square.

We did mange to cross the bridge of Marco Martire and wander about the church of San Domenico, and caught a glance at the old city portion sitting higher on the hills. However, our bus was departing shortly, so we had no choice but to abandon our quest, and turn to the bus depot, and meet once again with Mom and Sis. An interesting point, when Maria's mom and sister stopped at a bar to ask directions to their friend's house, the shopkeeper asked to see the address, and upon reading the directions, exclaimed in a very surprised voice, "That's my Mom's house"!! What are the chances...

A very quick visit, with little time to learn very much about this interesting destination. The little we did learn, centers around the desire of the citizens of Cosenza to restore the historical parts of the old city, and to reclaim sections that had fallen into disarray over the years. Massive undertakings were underway to reroute the old train lines, consequently erecting new stations, with an eye towards salvaging the crumbling buildings of old. Areas that once had housed ladies of ill-repute were being rebuilt at breakneck speed, and the criminal element was dispersed, and their local hangouts returned to the enjoyment of all.

Ma Kettle and I did enjoy one last visit to Cosenza before leaving Calaberia. Family members drove us about, and indicated various points of interest, and gave us numerous photo ops. Sadly, these are the two rolls of film that are missing. If any of our readers have pictures they would be willing to share, we'd be most grateful.

To sum up, consider a vist to this area of Italy. The food is wonderful, and people are very friendly and warm. Visit, before Tourism changes life as the locals now enjoy it.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:University of Cosenza, great for the local youth
  • Cons:Tourism has yet to make an impact...Bad ??
  • In a nutshell:appears to be a prosperous and thriving community
  • Last visit to Cosenza: Jul 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (3)

  • rozehill's Profile Photo
    Dec 4, 2005 at 2:31 AM

    What a lovely time for you and ma in Cosenza...This town looks quite quaint and I hope to have a chance to see it soon.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2005 at 1:08 PM

    I'm getting desperate here, trolling through your lesser pages seeking gems! Nice stuff as always.

  • rosie235's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2004 at 1:36 AM

    thankyou for reminding me how lovely this region is. My family & my husbands family still live in & around Cosenza. I last went in 95 & now want to take our son so he can see where his family originated & experience the beautiful scenery from the hilltops


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