Guardia Piemontese

GUARDIA PIEMONTESE

The street that runs along the ancient village of Guardia Piemontese overlooks the Tyrrhenian sea. The name of the town immediately recalls its ancient origins. The cobble paths meander among stone houses that follow one another till they get to the look-out tower. In this place, halfway between memories and legends, each glimpse conveys the traditions of the ancient Waldensian-Occitan culture. The village of Guardia Piemontese has maintained the peculiarities of the Occitan populations settled in the area since 1345. It is not known when the Waldensians arrived in Calabria, nor why they decided to move here. Some scholars maintain that they got here around the 13th century to escape persecutions in Piemonte Valleys. A reliable theory claims that they had to emigrate because of job shortage due to overpopulation of Piemonte Valleys in the 14th century. The Waldensians found fertile soils in Calabria. They grew fruit trees, like walnut, chestnut and olive groves, cultivated the soil, paid the tributes and became a resident community. Apart from Guardia Piemontese, called La Guardia at that time, the Waldensians settled in different towns of the present-day Province of Cosenza. However, Guardia Piemontese is the only site where local population still speak the ancient Occitan language and, until recently, wore the traditional costume. The site was chosen for its altitude (514 m above the sea level). Defensive walls were erected and the ancient look-out tower, built between the 11th and 12th centuries to warn against pirate and Saracen raids, was included in the walled town.



 


Address Via Municipio, 1
  87020 Guardia Piemontese (CS)
Phone number +39 0982 94046
  +39 0982 9011
Fax +39 0982 90093
Website http://www.comune.guardiapiemontese.cs.it
 

 

Guardia Piemontese is renowned for the springs of the Terme Luigiane, the spa location that is halfway between the sea and forested mountains. The Dito del Diavolo (Devil’s finger) is a dolomitic rock from where the healthy muds and sulfurous waters spring. At present, local economy is based upon spa incomes. Guardia Piemontese municipality is partially involved in the economic exploitation of the spa. The seaside village has remarkably developed and it is now the destination of an increasing number of summer tourists who are attracted by the wonderful sea and a relaxing vacation.

The ancient town of Guardia Piemontese reminds the visitors of the history of Waldensians in Calabria and the events that occurred. It is quite common to see on the doors the characteristic inward-looking peepholes. Waldensian people were forced to install them on their doors by the Inquisition after the 1561 slaughter of the Waldensians. Walking down the narrow cobblestone streets, the town walls with the typical carrouge, a small gate, are still visible. Despite water erosion, the Scoglio della Regina (Queen’s rock), with its many caves, is a very evocative place. Many legends exist about the rock. One of them tells the story of the Queen Isabel of France who became fertile after bathing in the naturally warm waters surrounding the rock.



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