Fiumefreddo is one of the oldest villages of the Tyrrhenian coast. It is surrounded by defensive walls with fortified gates and watchtowers.
Inside the well-preserved village, a terrace overlooks the sea and since 2005, it has been rated as one of Italy's most beautiful towns.
Salvatore Fiume, returning from his holiday in Sicily, stopped at Fiumefreddo; fascinated by the ruins of its castle.
The town is naturally perched above and retains the features of a fortified town, only due to its natural position in relation to its “porta merlata” (embattled gate). The gate, which must be seen, is the main entrance to the inhabited town centre whose appearance remains unchanged with winding streets, churches and houses and boats a historical and artistic heritage of considerable interest. From its enchanting cliffs, or from the numerous viewpoints overlooking the sea, the gaze is drawn to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, the Calabrian coast and the Cilento mountains.
The village stands on a rocky promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, on an offshoot of the Cucuzzo mountain; the highest peak in the coastal chain of the Paolano Apennines.
Fiumefreddo takes its name from Flumen frigidum, i.e. from the potable water river, called “frigidum” in ancient times which means “cold” due to its cool freshwater which gushed from a rock at a short distance from the sea. The word “Bruzio” refers to the area and was added in 1860 to distinguish it from towns that have the same name. Worthy of a visit while in the old town centre is the Chiesa Matrice di San Michele Arcangelo (main church of the Archangel St Michael), which dates back to 1540 and whose façade has undergone various restoration works. Inside, the church houses beautiful paintings by Francesco Solimena and Giuseppe Pascaletti, who also painted the altarpiece. Looking toward the cliff stands the church of San Rocco of the XVIII century. It was built with a hexagonal floor-plan on the city walls and near the “Porta di mare” (Gate to the Sea). The frescoes of its interior are by Salvatore Fiume and represent St Rocco who saves the people from the plague. Not to be missed are the ruins of the castle which is known as "Palazzo della Valle" (the Valley's Castle) and is built on the town's upper part, on the valley's cliffs. Fiumefreddo Bruzio is made from a succession of ancient churches and historical buildings which bear the marks left by time and are truly enchanting: palazzo del Barone del Bianco, palazzo Gaudiosi, palazzo Zupi with its wonderful door, palazzo Pignatelli. Also worthy of a mention is the ancient chiesa dell’Addolorata (church of Our Lady of Sorrows), which dates back to the XI century, or the chiesa di Santa Domenica (church of St Domenica) with its views overlooking the sea. Near the village, in contrada Badia, is the Benedictine abbey of Fontelaureato, built by Basilian monks. It was destroyed in 1201, then rebuilt by Simone de Mamistra and entrusted to the Abbot Gioacchino da Fiore, who died in an odour of sanctity in 1202 and is mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy as "well-equipped prophetic spirit". The bell tower, in Cistercian style, has a bell from 1510 and another from the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The Della Valle Castle
Adjacent to the village of Fiumefreddo Bruzio, stands the Castello della Valle or Castel Freddo (Cold Castle), built around 1050 by the Norman king Roberto Guiscard, with the aim of containing the onslaught of enemies. The views over the sea and the Tyrrhenian coast are magnificent, where looking toward the south on a clear day, it is possible to see Sicily and the Stromboli volcano, while looking north offers views of the old town centre. The remains of two circular towers that, during the 16th century, replaced the square ones built by the Swabians can still be seen. The façade boasts beautiful windows of carved sandstone (known locally as tuff or “tuffa”) while the underground passages, largely recovered, were used as exhibition halls and as a meeting room. The castle was also visited by the painter and designer Salvatore Fiume, who one day, returning from a holiday in Sicily, decided to go to Fiumefreddo, where he remained, fascinated by the castle's ruins. The artist wished to pay homage to the location with a first cycle of murals inspired by the town's medieval life and painted on the castle's surviving walls. That first cycle of lively and amazing thirteen frescoes known as “Stanza dell’Eden” (Eden's Hall), which depict the small town as an earthly paradise, was just the first of a valuable series of artistic gifts that Salvatore Fiume wanted to make to its citizens and that culminated with the decoration of the dome of St Rocco's church. In 1975 the town welcomed with enthusiasm the proposal by Master Fiume to revive the old town centre with some of his works. In the 90s a bronze sculpture was placed in each of the two squares with viewpoints overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. In 1996 he returned to repaint the castle's inner walls, after the original frescos were destroyed from inclement weather. Today, the castle belongs to the town of Fiumefreddo Bruzio.
Trekking and hiking on Monte Cocuzzo
Behind the village, the chain of the coastal mountains offers various opportunities for excursions such as the Grotta dell’Eremita (Hermit’s Cave) at the top of the rocky spur of the Timpa Badia, where ascetics found shelter during the Byzantine era, and the unspoilt area of “Bocca d’Inferno” (Hell's Mouth). History and nature, finally, meet at Fiume di Mare (the river of the sea) that flows between the mountains before cascading, creating small waterfalls, in a narrow and deep gorge, near the abbazia di Fonte Laurato (abbey of Fonte Laurato).
During the warmer seasons, Fiumefreddo also offers visitors a long white sandy beach that washes Cosenza's lower Tyrrhenian coast. Located between the sea and the winding but breathtaking road that leads up to the village, Fiumefreddo's marina offers welcoming services together with moments of peace and relaxation suitable for families. The seafront that precedes the beach boasts well-cared-for urban furniture, marked by simplicity and good taste. The place is so quiet that several usual bathers leave on the beach not only the umbrella but also chairs and other items, in addition to unattended boats. The sea is so clean as to encourage visitors to go fishing, albeit in an organised manner.
Fiumefreddo Bruzio is a village perfect for those in search of gastronomic specialities. Here visitors can taste cheese varieties processed according to traditional methods, with “free range” milk from cows that have been allowed to freely graze on the ridges. Typical dishes include “filiciata”, based on fresh cheese served on fern leaves, or the “frittata di patate” (potato omelette or frittata); a rustic pie made with potatoes that arrive from surrounding fields and that, in spite of its name, is not made with eggs. Sweets not to be missed include “cuddruri” pastries made with eggs, sugar, cinnamon and anise.
Largo Torretta, 3, Fiumefreddo Bruzio
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