there is a town that it would be a real shame not to visit if you decide to plan a holiday in Calabria: Zungri .
A place that offers neither dream beaches nor fairytale woods, but which is immersed in a scenario that defining it out of time might not give a good idea. Yes, because Zungri is just like that: a place where watches practically don't exist and everything is still as it once was.
This town owes its fame to a rock village which makes this locality on the Calabrian Tyrrhenian side a place to be discovered. By now officially renamed rock village of the Sbariati , it would roughly date back to the Byzantine age.
The dating would have been made possible by the silos that compose it and which would testify, in a rather clear way, that these anthropized environments were somehow functional to the life of the community that settled in this area.
The rock village of Zungri occupies an area of almost 3,000 square meters and is spread over several levels, climbing up a rocky ridge. There are approximately 500 cave-houses that are part of it and which overlook the valley crossed by the Malopera stream . Another crucial area which, according to what historians who have studied the settlement have discovered, was exploited by the villagers for cultivation and milling.
On a structural level, this stone city in Calabria has a simple and linear conformation: a stairway carved into the rock crosses all the levels that make up the village, thus allowing access to the various caves located along the ridge. The cave houses, on the other hand, are all different from each other: some are made up of a single room , others of several rooms, both arranged on a single floor and on two levels.
However, it is what can be admired inside the Zungri caves that provides the visitor with more information about the lifestyle and habits of the rock populations who gave birth to this extraordinary settlement in the heart of Calabria. The niches carved into the rock , inside the cavities of the caves, suggest that those spaces were used as pantries and storerooms, or as beds.
The arches and quadrangular openings that adorn the entrance of some of them, on the other hand, are clear proof of the fact that the men who lived within those walls felt the need to decorate their homes in a unique and original way . It still amazes the way in which they have worked hard to make the most of the water resources granted to them as a gift from Mother Nature: both inside and outside the houses, they were able to create very useful connection channels between tanks and gutters , making sure that the rainwater is conveyed directly into a precise compartment of the cave.
The city of stone is therefore a site that offers the possibility of traveling back in time, but also of discovering how man has evolved thanks to his discoveries and innovations. However, its history is still steeped in mystery, and despite numerous studies it has not yet been possible to identify the origin of this wonderful village. It is possible that it is a religious colony founded by oriental populations that have come down to us. Or even that it was born as a simple productive community of farmers.
The most fascinating hypothesis is the one from which Zungri inherited its most famous name, i.e. the village of the Grotte degli Sbariati . This term would identify some wandering religious fleeing from Sicily or from some African communities, following the barbarian invasions that had set fire to their cities. The cave houses would therefore date back to the 10th century, and would have welcomed
Zungri is not just a rock village of incredible charm . This is located a short distance from the small "new" village, where it is equally possible to admire ancient evidence of the peasant civilization that has characterized it for many centuries. Among its most beautiful architectures there is certainly the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Nev e, which houses a painting of great value attributed to a southern painter of the Raffaellesca school.
Also in the historical centre, the more curious can visit the Museum of rock and peasant civilization of Zungri : inside it houses finds and secrets that guarantee the visitor an unrepeatable interactive experience, to discover something more about the famous stone city. Instead, it is in the nearby hamlet of Macroni that archaeologists have carried out numerous excavations, which have brought to light an ancient Roman villa and a cave that houses the stylized figure of Christ dug out of the sandstone.
The ghost village of Papaglionti Vecchio is also a place full of suggestions. Its abandoned houses and now in a state of total ruin recall the passage of time and the unspeakable power of nature: the town was in fact moved further upstream a few decades ago, when persistent floods forced the inhabitants to leave their homes in a hurry . The landscape that opens up to the eyes of visitors today is disarming and even a little disturbing.
Hotel Grotticelle and Esmeraldo Residence are located in Capo Vaticano, a town a few km from the enchanting pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea in Calabria.
Thanks to its diversified offer, it offers holidays for everyone and for every need.
Ideal for families, lovers of relaxation, but also for couples and groups of friends, choosing our structure also means discovering the natural beauties, traditions and Calabrian food and wine.
Hotel Grotticelle Esmeraldo Residence
C.da Grotticelle snc - 89866 Capo Vaticano, Ricadi (VV)
Phone: +39 0963.663900
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