ALTOMONTE

Altomonte is settled at the foot of Pollino National Park and it is one of the most attractive towns in the Province of Cosenza, whose widespread reputation resides in its remarkable artistic and cultural treasures. Its territory is partly flat, crossed by the Esaro, Grondi and Fiumicello rivers, and partly hilly where air is fresh and the view breathtaking. The town was erected on a pre-existing fortified nucleus and still retains a medieval setting, of ancient dwellings with stone front doors, carved by famous local stonemasons of the 17th and 19th centuries. The town was first named Brahall, then Bragalla, Antifluvius until 1343 and, finally, Altomonte at the behest of the Queen Joanna II of Naples. Altomonte was the feud of the powerful Sangineto family and, later, of the Sanseverino lineage.




 


Address Largo della Solidarietà, 1
  87042 Altomonte (CS)
Phone number 0981 948041
Fax 0981 948261
Website http://www.comune.altomonte.cs.it/
 

 

The residential area is located on a marvelous hill 500 m high, surrounded by the majestic Pollino mountain chain. The ridge outline is characterized by the Mediterranean scrub vegetation that creates a wonderful landscape reflected into the artificial lake of Esaro Valley, crossed by clean water flows.

Altomonte presents itself most magnificently to visitors thanks to its wonderful medieval town center harboring historic and artistic remains of greatest influence and interest. The splendid buildings, the fascinating glimpses of the old settlement attract thousands of tourists every year and make the town one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Local gastronomic culture evokes flavors, fragrances and colors of the past by promoting and enriching old cooking traditions that identify the area and foster its development. Among the actions for the protection of local food tradition, the town joined the National Association Città del Pane (“The cities of Bread”) All year long, Altomonte streets are crowded by tourists charmed by its historical and artistic treasures, and customs and traditions of the town. The increasing number of tourists has contributed to the promotion of services and accommodation infrastructures. Altomonte’s economy mainly depends on agriculture (vineyards, olive groves and peach trees), tourism, livestock farming, construction industry and craftsmanship. Peaches are the leading product of this area and they are exported all over Europe. An outstanding traditional product is handmade pasta: which include “maccaruni”, “rastatieddri" and "lagani e ceci" (eggless pasta with chickpeas). Traditional food products comprehend homemade bread and “pitte”, a typical focaccia bread kneaded with pork rind, tomatoes or elderflowers. In May, the Great Bread Festival takes place in the streets of the old center. It is one of the most eagerly awaited and characteristic events of the rich cultural and tourist program in Altomonte. Several stands host local producers together with member cities of the “Associazione Città del Pane”, representatives from the "Borghi più Belli d'Italia" (Italian most Beautiful towns) and "Città Slow" (Slow Cities) that expose and offer tastings of specialties and top dishes. Local Pro Loco Association organizes guided tours of the “Forni Accesi” (“Lighted Ovens” and “Catui Aperti” (that is caves, cellars and sheds). The town was awarded the “Alesini” Prize in 2006 as the City of Prevention; the 2005 Tourism Prize by the Calabria Region Authority and the Cerere Prize as the most beautiful old center in the province of Cosenza.

Among the historic artistic heritage, the fourteenth-century Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione and the art collections safeguarded at the local Civic Museum are worth a visit. The church of Santa Maria della Consolazione is one of the most representative examples of Plantagenet architecture in Calabria. It was built by Filippo Sangineto, the local lord at the service of the Anjou House, and substituted the Norman church of Santa Maria de Franchis. Construction ended in 1380, and the small Norman building was replaced by a majestic church. Filippo Sangineto also endowed the church with a valuable artwork collection. When the county government passed to the Sanseverino family, the building was enlarged and in 1443 the Dominican monks were granted the custody and founded a monastery. The church is single-nave, with a late-gothic façade, a cusped pediment and a wide renewed rose window, consisting of sixteen mullions supporting trifoil arches inscribed within pointed arches with small ornaments in-between and the rich portal with an ogee arch above a lowered one, probably the work of Sienese artists. On the right stands the square bell tower with an elegant mullioned window, the work of Calabrian craftsmen of the fourteenth century.

In a dominant position stands the Castle where remains of frescos are still visible, together with loopholes and carved stone corbels. In the same location, old buildings have carved front doors, the work of local stonemasons. Altomonte probably corresponds to the ancient Balbia, a Phoenician-origin name (meaning Lord) also cited by Plinius the elder when he praised the goodness of the Balbino wine.

The Belluscio Theater has hosted national and international events since its opening in 1988. Its façade is decorated with mosaics made by renowned artists. The egg-shaped Belluscio Theater is set in the old center of Altomonte. The idea of building the theater arose in the 80s, during the construction of a parking area. One of the most representative structures of the town was thus erected.



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