Discover Brancaleone in Calabria!

Today we are going to Calabria, more precisely to a very special place, full of beauty and peace: Brancaleone! Let’s go!

Photo by @Alessandra Moscatello
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Discover Brancaleone in Calabria!

When we talk about Calabria it is very common to think of famous cities like Tropea, Crotone, Catanzaro, or Cosenza, but Calabria goes much further! Calabria offers us true gems like the one I’m showing you today: Brancaleone! That said, let’s find out more about this fantastic place! Discover Brancaleone in Calabria! Stay with us and make the best of the boot country! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? LOOKING FOR A HOTEL IN CALABRIA? Check our suggestions! Click here!

Our Introduction

On the Riviera dei Gelsomini, located a few kilometers from the splendid sea of the Ionian coast of Reggio Calabria, we find the small abandoned village of Brancaleone Vetus. The village of Brancaleone Vetus tells the story of all the inner villages in the Reggio’s Ionic low region: tells of their common fate, their tragic end – which today seems to seek redemption – and all the splendor of yesteryear. Also read: How to find your ancestors in Italy?

A new beginning for the village of Brancaleone Vetus

The village of Brancaleone Vetus wants to tell a new story, present itself in a different way, poetic, magical… It is currently made up of young people connected to their roots, who value their culture, people who, even from afar, carry this place in their hearts and relive it through pictures and walks, proud to show something extraordinary.

A place of soul for souls who want discoveries, new views, new stories; a place capable of resisting, of – despite everything – remaining strongly anchored to the rock and to the memories of those who lived in it, those who built it, and, also, those who left it behind. Read also: When is the Best Time to Travel to Calabria?

Attractions in Brancaleone

Even with few attractions, Brancaleone deserves a visit. Make your itinerary around the city by placing the main attractions listed here.

Urban Archaeological Park of Brancaleone Vetus

Well, in addition to the beauties of the Urban Archaeological Park of Brancaleone Vetus, the new city of Brancaleone stands out by the sea. Read also: How about visiting the most beautiful villages in Calabria?

Cesare Pavese’s Casa del Confino

It is worth visiting Cesare Pavese’s Casa del Confino, where the famous 20th-century Italian writer remained for eight months and where he wrote important works, leaving a great testimony of the place at the beginning of the 20th century.

Blue Sea Turtle Recovery Center Conservancy

It is also very interesting to visit the Blue Sea Turtle Recovery Center Conservancy, a veritable hospital for Caretta tortoise specimens in need of assistance. This spot is a must-see as Reggio’s Ionian coast is a favorite spot where these miracles of nature lay their eggs and give birth to their young.

Museum of the Sea

Closely linked to the world of turtles is the Museum of the Sea, which offers us interesting activities to get to know our sea and the specimens that live there, giving the place almost indescribable beauties.

What to do near Brancaleone?

Brancaleone is part of the so-called “Armenian Valley”; The area gets its name from the numerous testimonies of this culture in the area. The villages of Bruzzano Vetere, Ferruzzano Superiore, and Staiti are located just a few kilometers from Brancaleone and can be visited with peace of mind.

Bruzzano Vetere

The village of Bruzzano Vetere is abandoned, but its history and its past resist, to be admired through the arch of the Principi di Carafa and from the top of the walls of the ancient castle.

Ferruzzano Superiore

Only one family still lives in Ferruzzano Superiore and it has also become the setting for some films. An extraordinary panorama opens over the entire Riviera Jasmine and the houses still resembles life in past times. Within a short walk you can reach the Bosco di Rudina, an enchanted place with numerous stone millstones, evidence of wine production in the region since ancient times that date back to the Greek era.


Staiti is the smallest municipality in Calabria in terms of population density, and that’s where you can still breathe the authenticity of the place and the few inhabitants will be able to make you feel at home. The old alleys, the square with children playing, the views over the entire Aspromonte National Park, and the magic that this village brings us, make Staiti a place to be experienced in all its intensity!

Still in the municipality of Staiti is the Abbey of Santa Maria dei Tridetti, an architectural jewel, a symbol of the mixture of different styles and workers, crossroads of cultures and peoples that inhabited this valley. It’s all really impressive!

Where to eat in Brancaleone?

The typical products of Brancaleone – and the entire Armenian valley – despite the proximity to the sea, are strongly linked to a tradition of the land, that is, they are big producers of meat, sausages, cheeses, but, above all, vegetables, cooked in the most varied ways.

To experience the flavor of tradition, two restaurants in the region are worth mentioning:

In Brancaleone is La Grotta, where in addition to fine meats you can taste typical dishes, still prepared with the flavor of the past, with a slow pace capable of making you fall in love madly for the local cuisine.

In Staiti, there is Taverna dei Santi, where good food and wine are accompanied by a Incredible panorama of the village, to delight the palate and the sight!

Experiences in Brancaleone!

The Ionian coast of Reggio, for about 75 km, is the homeland of the Bergamot of Reggio Calabria, which assumes its particular characteristics only in this area. Brancaleone is at the center of this fortunate strip of productive land and the Patea farm allows you to testimony the transformation of the green gold of Calabria or walk among the bergamots, intoxicated by its unmistakable perfume.

This text was kindly written exclusively for Your Travel to Italy and Your Travel to Calabria by Alessandra Moscatello.
Alessandra lives in Brancaleone (RC), and she has been a guide for years, and not only works here, but she also has a real passion for this territory!
Alessandra: graize mille per questo lavoro spledido!

A bit of Brancaleone Vetus History

The origins of this rocky village date back to the 6th and 7th centuries AD, with the arrival of monks Byzantines who found here the ideal place to live and pray in peace. The ancient name of the place was Sperlinga or Sperlonga, whose etymology refers to the meaning of cave, which is a very peculiar feature of this territory.

Already in the medieval period, the village was named Brancaleone. This name was most likely adopted on account of the visit of a mile, Andrea Brancaleone, who was in these lands. In 1300, the presence of a castle and walls that fortified the entire village was attested.

The abandonment of the village

The complete abandonment of the village is “recent”, and according to historical records it took place in 1958 when the last family decided to follow the example of their fellow citizens and move to the new neighboring town, Razza. The decision, however, also came due to political choices, aiming at a stable economy more than, in fact, the well-being and identity of each of the inhabitants.

For many its houses, alleys, and memories remained in their hearts, although they have been abandoned in a short time and never (re)found again.

The last inhabitant to leave the village

Gianni Carteri was the “boy who closed the little town”; is considered the last inhabitant to leave the village, and he always wanted to go back, even though he had a torn childhood.

Traces of a past

Today, among the ruins, one can still see traces of a glorious past, but also everyday moments. There are testimonies of a happy life in the various alleys of the village that can only be noticed by the curious footsteps of travelers who, with great respect and silence, relive the past and the stories that, day by day, seek to promote and revive the history of this splendid place in its essence.

More Attractions to see in Brancaleone

In addition to the majestic panorama of the village, we still have some attractions to see and enjoy in an authentic way.

The Mother Church ruins and Grotta dellAlbero della Vita

In addition to the majestic panorama, it is worth seeing the Mother Church ruins up close. Dedicated to the Annunziata, the site of the barn silos and the suggestive Grotta dellAlbero della Vita, entirely excavated around a central pillar, with engravings that refer to the culture of Armenia, such as crosses and a peacock, a symbol of the Archangel Gabriel, but above all of rebirth and eternal life.

The Grotta della Madonna del Riposo

In the village outside the walls, you can still admire the Grotta della Madonna del Riposo, with important interior murals that have recently been brought to light. Angels, martyrs, and musical instruments compose a jigsaw puzzle that still deserves a thorough study and that, for sure, will tell us a little more of the history of this special place.

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Discover Brancaleone in Calabria! Brancaleone, without any pretense, will make you see – and experience – an authentic, passionate, unique, and very, very special Calabria!

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