In Calabria, a small hidden gem lies in the Crotonese hinterland: the village of Santa Severina. Discover it with us.
The village of Santa Severina, located in Calabria about 30 kilometres away from Crotone, rises 326 metres above sea level on a steep rocky hill that governs from above a valley halfway between the Ionian Sea and the Sila Mountains.
Santa Severina has just under two thousand inhabitants and, in addition to being considered one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Calabria, it has been part of "I Borghi più Belli d’Italia" (The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy) since 2015.
The majestic Castle of Santa Severina is emblematic of the great and long history of this village. Walking through the streets of this village, one can breathe in all its history, marked over the centuries by different dominations.
Let's discover together what else this hidden gem of Calabria has to offer.
What to see and do in Santa Severina: a little bit of history
Santa Severina by night
The territory of Santa Severina, during the Bronze and Iron Ages, was inhabited by indigenous peoples possibly belonging to the Enotrians (toponymic term given by the Greeks to the natives).
In ancient times, Santa Severina was known by the name of Siberene, a name that was retained even during the rule of Magna Graecia. In Roman times, the name was instead latinised into Severiana. It was with the arrival of Byzantine rule that the present name of the village was decreed.
During the rule of the Byzantines, which lasted until 1076, Santa Severina became the metropolitan seat of Byzantium and developed into a town with a high artistic heritage.
It was later ruled by the Normans, under whose rule the construction of the castle began, and then by the Swabians. Finally, after Aragonese rule, it came under the rule of the Bourbons.
Things to do and see in Santa Severina
Piazza Campo in Santa Severina
Walking through the streets of Santa Severina means to immerse oneself in the thousand-year history of this wonderful village, in a journey through the dominations that have succeeded one another over the centuries.
In addition to the Castle, surrounded by its majestic walls, there are several monuments of historical and artistic interest. On the town's central square, Piazza Campo, stands a veritable open-air museum surrounded by majestic gardens embellished by walls and wave architecture. The square is overlooked by the Cathedral of Santa Anastasia, built in the 13th century but restored several times, which today preserves the entrance portal as the only original piece. Incorporated in the Cathedral there are also the remains of the Byzantine Baptistery, the oldest monument of Byzantine art in Calabria.
In addition to the historical buildings, it is possible to visit the town's numerous museums. First of all, there is the Archaeological Museum of Santa Severina, housed in the Castle, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art in the archbishop's palace and the Diocesan Historical Archive and Library located in Piazza Campo.
In terms of food and wine, the village dish that you absolutely must try is pasta china (stuffed pasta). The dish consists of rigatoni cooked in the oven with a sausage and provolone filling. Typical products include oranges, which have been an important economic source for the citizens of Santa Severina since ancient times.
The Santa Severina Castle
The Santa Severina Castle
The Castle of Santa Severina is the monument that most represents the great history of this village. The fortress covers some 10,000 square metres of land, dominating the valley of the Neto River.
Its construction dates back to the time of Norman rule (11th century) when the Norman king Robert Guiscard ordered its construction on the ruins of a pre-existing fortification from the Byzantine era.
The castle consists of a square keep and four cylindrical towers on its sides; it is also flanked by four bastions projecting from the towers. Over the centuries, however, the structure has undergone several modifications, according to the taste of the rulers who ruled during the different dominions.
To this day, it is one of the best-preserved military fortresses in southern Italy. It houses the Archaeological Museum of Santa Severina, inside which there is an area relating to the excavations carried out in the fortress and another dedicated to the Santa Severina area and the Neto Valley.