Bivongi (RC)

The village with the secret to long life

Located at the border between the provinces of Reggio Calabria and Catanzaro, Bivongi lies in the Stilaro Valley at the foot of Mount Consolino, in an area enriched by wonderful natural landscapes.
 
The subsoil is rich in minerals, precious stones and thermal springs and it is immersed in natural surroundings that are truly fascinating.
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Bivongi is called the “Borgo della Longevità” (Village of Longevity); its inhabitants include a large number of century-old trees and citizens who live well past their nineties.
 

The inhabited town centre is very picturesque, with a maze of narrow streets and a myriad of stairways and steps which serve to reach the houses placed one above the other, creating a patchwork of walls and arches.
In the past, Bivongi was among the most well-known locations for many of its thriving activities: ranging from the production of silk to machining of metals and stone-work, to generating electricity, extracting molybdenum from local mines and for being the preferred location (still prior to the tenth century), of monks from the East that escaped, together with their icons, from the iconoclast laws enacted by the Emperor Leo the Isaurian.
Today it is known for the abbey's traditional feast, which takes place every 17 and 18 August and for the Festa di Maria SS Mamma Nostra, celebrated twice a year: on the second Sunday of September and on 5 February.

 
Bivongi
 
Ecomuseo delle Ferriere e Fonderie della Calabria (Ecomuseum of Calabria's ironworks and foundries)

The Ecomuseum of Calabria's ironworks and foundries was established in 1982, having as its purpose the research, study, preservation and cultural promotion of Calabria’s industrial archaeology and of the huge heritage still existing in the Stilaro Valley, the so-called "cradle of early southern industrialisation".
The Ecomuseum appreciates all the area's resources, from forestry to mining, landscapes and monuments, to rediscover and reclaim the historical and cultural roots of the people of the area. It includes five different areas (thermal springs and metallurgy itinerary, mines itinerary, mills itinerary, religious itinerary), and is one among the 35 main archeo-industrial sites distributed all over Italy.

 
Cascate del Marmarico (Marmarico Waterfall)o

The “Cascate del Marmarico”, with its drop of 114 metres, is the highest of Calabria and the Southern Apennines. It is nestled between the Sila National Park and that of the Aspromonte, the cascade falls in the Parco Naturale Regionale delle Serre (Natural Regional Park of the Serre) and to reach it, visitors must make travel down the gravel path that winds all the along the mountain-side. The cascade appears suddenly, in all its beauty, before its dramatic drop and then ends up in a lake to continue its journey toward the valley.

 
Bivongi
 
Bagni di Guida and Albergo Acque Sante

A short distance from Bivongi's town centre are sources of sulphurous alkaline water in a town called "Bagni di Guide" or “Acque Sante” (holy waters, with reference to their therapeutic properties). Analyses have classified Bivongi's thermal springs as mineral water rich in sulphur and fluoride; therefore suitable for the treatment of various diseases. Tradition tells us that the discovery of the healing properties of its mineral water was entirely by chance, when a shepherd noticed that his goats were benefiting by jumping into some puddles. The rumour spread and a growing number of people went there to cure their ills. Around 1850 a small spa was built. It was one of Calabria’s most advanced spas and it remained active until the end of the forties/early fifties of the twentieth century. Nearby a “Casa Albergo” (guest-house), was established from a building that was fully renovated to be used as a spa and accommodation.

 
Santuario di Maria Santissima Mamma Nostra

The church, a parish church dedicated to San Giovanni Decollato (St Saint John the Beheaded) is also known as the “santuario della Mamma Nostra” (shrine of Our Lady).
The Church, with a Latin cross floor-plan and predominant baroque style on the front façade, preserves an important painting by Tommaso Martini from Bivongi and a group of sculptures in wood (anonymous of the eighteenth century), in addition to the wooden statue of the Immaculate by an unknown Neapolitan of eighteenth century, the contemporary busts in wood of San Felice (St Felix) and Santa Giustina (St Justine) as well as silverware.

 
Bivongi
 
The secret to living past a hundred years

Bivongi is called the Borgo della Longevità (Village of Longevity) its inhabitants include a large number of century-old trees and citizens who live well past their nineties. To understand the reasons for this trend, studies were carried of Bivongi and on neighbouring towns that had a particularly long-living population.
Eating habits, friendly rendez-vous in the piazza, days of ordinary routine that flow between daily chores and moments relaxing on the sofa, which never change and are always perfect in terms of the customs of its inhabitants, are part of Bivongi’s experience and culture and allow to live longer in synergy than in other places.
The idea of Bivongi's “Albergo Diffuso” (scattered hotel) was conceived from these concepts and has transformed some of the town’s abandoned buildings into some thirty accommodation options scattered around the village, that offer those seeking a different alternative from the usual tourist itineraries, a special and unforgettable experience. The Borgo della Longevità (Village of longevity) is now a human destination. Its specific character and type of experience make it truly unique.

 
Bivongi
 
Gastronomy

Natural beauty, widespread hospitality, simple habits, spirituality, food and good wine constitute Bivongi’s real secret.
There are many traditional specialities, including all home-made pasta (rolling it around a blade of grass) and dressed with a goat or pork-based sauce, with marinated meat, or simply with fresh tomatoes and herbs.
Meat lovers must try a roast of only goat or mixed with pork and for those who like fish, we recommend stockfish/dried cod with potatoes and olives. Tasty and simple treats include tomatoes with green olives and chilli pepper or squash flowers and vegetarian “frittini” (fried appetizers) with batter.
Wine deserves a separate chapter as the area produces the Bivongi D.o.c. (“Denominazione di Origine Controllata” or Denomination of Controlled Origin) in white, red and rosé varieties. These wines must be enjoyed at different temperatures, in goblets of various shapes, when paired with tasty dishes and typical local cuisine products.

 


 


Address Viale G. Matteotti
  89040 Bivongi (RC)
Phone number 0964 731185
Fax 0964731476
Website www.comunebivongi.gov.it/
 

 

In the upper course of the Stilaro river the splendid Cascata del Marmarico (Marmarico waterfall) originates. It is among the highest waterfalls in Italy, located in the Folea valley named Marmarico fall. Marmarico means “slow” and “heavy”, perhaps deriving from the fact that the water seems to hang in motionless threads. It is 120 m high and is the uppermost waterfall in the Southern Apennines. The Cascata del Marmarico was recognized as a Meraviglia italiana (an Italian Marvel). Along the upper course of the Stilaro river, near the waterfall, the Woodwardia Radicans, a rare fern species, thrives. These plants mingle with different orchid species and this area is a real paradise for botanists.

Visitors who arrive at Bivongi can admire its characteristic old center and the ancient Main Church that houses pieces of local artists. Recent restoration interventions brought to light the remains of a primitive worship area and a 1300 altar. The existing 17th century church was completed after the 1783 earthquake and it is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The Monastery of San Giovanni Theristis, built in the 11th century, is the only Orthodox Christian Monastery in Italy and it hosts a monastic community belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese for Italy. The Church of Mamma Nostra (Our Mother) is a 17th century church: its construction was initiated in 1610 on the foundations of a previous church that was demolished. The church was partially destroyed by the 1783 earthquake. The Mulinu do Furnu was built by the Cistercian monks to grind galena, a mineral coming from a mine in the Argentera hamlet. Galena was then melted in the oven, which gave the name to the mill. The mill has now become the information point for those who want to visit the Ecomuseum.



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