I wasn’t but a clumsy cub when I went through the Raganello Gorge for the first time. During my summer holidays in Southern Italy, in an Italian-Albanian small village in the Pollino mountains called Civita, the gorge was our magnificent game, among rocky cliffs, ice-cold waterfalls and small natural pounds. Now that I am almost an adult – and far clumsier – finding the same gorge, beautiful and untouched, experiencing the same emotions, is more than just joy: it’s a dream come true, the preservation of a unique world heritage.
They call it “Ecomuseum”, a museum beyond walls and buildings spread all over the territory: the landscapes, but also the local communities which shaped the Raganello Valley through their history and culture. A museum of visions and feelings wonderfully collected and told by the Interpretation Centre located in Civita.
The Raganello stream – which probably owes its name to ragare, “to drag” – flows in the karstic area of Pollino mountain range’s eastern part. Among the many peaks – called with the dialectal term timpe – twist and turn trails through ethereal visions of woods and rocks. The range of activities goest from trekking to climbing, canyoning and hiking.
The gorges stretch from Civita to San Lorenzo Bellizzi, but the whole valley also includes Cerchiara di Calabria, Francavilla Marittima and Alessandria del Carretto, all in the province of Cosenza. Amazing views can be enjoyed from any of these villages, but to adventure into the gorges you will need a professional guide, because things can get “really funny” down there.
Close to San Lorenzo Bellizzi are the Raganello’s Higher Gorges. This trait is also called “the rock landscape” and shows several cliffs and peaks. It’s an unmissable chance to relax in front of majestic views and listen to the wind breathing through the trees.
Further are the Lower Gorges, next to Civita, also called “the stone landscape”, where man and nature exercised a century long relationship resulting into the local communities and the ancient trails. Here canyoning in the Raganello is and incredible experience which takes through seven kilometres to the Devil’s Bridge, an inspiring construction binding the two sides of the canyon. In order to enjoy this exciting adventure you will need an helmet – falling rocks are a consistent treat – trekking shoes and someone with a good knowledge of the path, preferably a professional guide.
Ending the Raganello Valley is “the gravel landscape”, which collects the debris dragged by the stream down to a softer and quieter panorama. The valley ends in the Sibari Gulf, framed by the Manfriana mountains and the village of Francavilla Marittima. Here a necropolis has been found, next to what is believed to be an old Greek town, Lagaria, founded by Epeo, the Greek hero who built the trojan horse with the trees from the nearby Cernostasi Woods.
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Where is the Raganello Valley?
How to get there
By car: along the Salerno-Reggio Calabria Highway (A3), exit Castrovillari.
By train: the closest railway station is in Sibari.
By bus: probably your best choice as many routes connect Cosenza and Castrovillari with all major cities in Italy.
By plane: Lamezia Terme Airport.
Guides and tours
Raganello Tour: trips and off track transfers – +39 3409096436
Roberto Di Marco: professional guide, geologist and climber – [email protected]; +39 3471776569.
Antonio Larocca: official guide Parco Nazionale del Pollino – [email protected]; 3497966734.