Campotenese Lavender Park, the "Provence of Italy"

Weekend in Campotense, among lavender flowers
Parco della Lavanda

© olivitophoto/Shutterstock

Living slow

Did you know there is a place in Calabria known as the "Provence of Italy"?

This is the Lavender Park in Campotenese, a hamlet of Morano Calabro, one of The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy in the province of Cosenza.

Right at the foot of the Pollino National Park lies a native lavender cultivation that is the envy of French Provence. A purple expanse as far as the eye can see, to be photographed, smelled, picked and discovered in all its properties.

Lavender blossoming in Calabria

Lavender cultivation in Calabria is an activity to be discovered through naturalistic and experiential tourism that brings us to know niche realities that best express the new trend of slow living.

One of these is the Lavender Park in Campotenese, a locality in the Pollino area of Cosenza, a hamlet of the medieval village of Morano Calabro.

The blooming period of the lavender, which is the best time for a super "Instagrammable" visit to the park, is between the end of June and the end of August.

In fact, during these months, the lavender dyes the entire hillside around Morano purple, releasing its unmistakable scent into the air.

What is so special about Campotenese Lavender and what distinguishes it from lavender from Provence?  It is an autochthonous species that grows on the slopes of the Pollino Massif, Lavanda Loricata (whose name is also linked to the autochthonous species of the Pino Loricato, the symbol of the Pollino Park), hence the nice name "Loricanda".

Angelica Parisi/Shutterstock

The idea of cultivating Loricanda was born from the far-sighted vision of Mr and Mrs Rocco, who in 2007 founded the Parco della Lavanda (Lavender Park) with the precise intent of studying and selecting the spontaneous local variety of lavender that has always grown in the Pollino stony ground, and to cultivate it under a certified organic system in plots of land that were now abandoned.

Loricanda is a hardy plant by nature, which does not require chemical treatment, and therefore it lends itself to the many uses of the Organic Farm.

What to expect during a guided tour of the Lavender Park? An encounter with around 60 different plant varieties within a unique single-species botanical garden, where each variety is illustrated by experts so that it can be distinguished and appreciated even by simple enthusiasts.

Finally, after a real photo book in the purple, all that's left to do is to buy lavender products in the shop: soaps, candles, bath salts and scented sachets.

Weekend in the Calabrian Provence

A visit to the Lavender Park in Campotenese is a valuable opportunity to discover all the beauties of this slice of land known as the "Provence of Italy".

The first stop of the weekend in the Pollino is the historic centre of Morano Calabro, among The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.

Climbing up the Coscile Valley, the ancient Muranum appears, clinging around the ruins of its panoramic castle, the Norman-Swabian Castle, from the top of which the "Pollino Crib" can be fully admired, arranged in a maze of alleys, widenings and arches sloping down towards the San Nicola district. The castle was enlarged in the 16th century by Neapolitan architects on behalf of Prince Sanseverino, who made it his home.

Among Morano's architectural landmarks are the yellow-blue majolica dome and the bell tower of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, inside which one can admire Antonello Gagini's Madonna of the Angels (1505) and the Chapel of San Silvestro with its 15th-century polyptych by Bartolomeo Vivarini (Sanseverino Polyptych), which escaped an attempted robbery.

Morano Calabro
Giambattista Lazazzera/Shutterstock

Lastly, the aristocratic palaces built between the 18th and 19th centuries, which give the historical centre a touch of aristocratic elegance, with their symmetrical elevations, stone portals and wide entrance staircases.

What to taste during a weekend in Morano Calabro? The typical dish, stoccu e pateni, i.e. stockfish with potatoes and dried peppers, which combines in a single dish the two natural elements of Calabria: the sea and the mountains.

A few more days to spend in the surrounding area? For lovers of folklore and ethno-linguistic traditions, we recommend a visit to Civita, another of The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, of arbëreshë (Italo-Albanian) origin, with its characteristic "Kodra Houses", with their anthropomorphic façades.

Those looking for an adrenalin-fuelled contact with nature can go rafting on the Lao River in the valley of the same name.

Regione Calabria

Ultimo aggiornamento: Feb 16, 2024 10:16 AM