Discovering Bivongi, the "Village of Longevity"
Bivongi and the secret of eternal youth
© Regione Calabria
Feb 15, 2024 4:15 PM
© Regione Calabria
Feb 15, 2024 4:15 PM
There is a village in Calabria where literally "you live a hundred years!".
We are in the picturesque Stilaro Valley, the valley furrowed by the river of the same name in the Ionian province of Reggio Calabria, between the medieval villages of Stilo and Bivongi.
If Stilo is known the world over for being the birthplace of the philosopher Tommaso Campanella, who drew inspiration from these places to compose The City of the Sun (1602) and for the jewel of Byzantine architecture that is the Cattolica, the nearby town of Bivongi, also of Byzantine layout, is known to be a true "Village of Longevity".
Let's visit it and discover together what is the secret of eternal youth.
Nestled in the lush green flank of Mount Consolino, Bivongi has some of the essential characteristics to be called the "Village of Longevity".
The brand is certified by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic researcher who has placed it in the "Blue Zone", i.e. in the world mapping of over-centenarians and the "slow villages" that host them, favouring their longevity on the basis of 9 very precise parameters.
What, then, are the secret ingredients of this elixir of long life? Those who believe that it is just a hereditary factor, seasoned with a good dose of luck, are wrong. Being long-lived in a given place depends essentially on:
These are the Buettner's parameters for inclusion in the "Blue Zone", which in Italy concerns only the mountainous area of Barbagia, in Sardinia, and the Reggio Calabria village of Bivongi, which, on closer inspection, really has what it takes.
For those who understand longevity as a tourist attraction, Bivongi "Village of Longevity" is the top destination in Europe.
The energy one breathes in this mystical place, in the embrace of its unspoilt nature, is truly a cure-all. Try it to believe!
A destination for experiential tourism and "slow living", Bivongi offers its visitors the authentic atmosphere of a hospitable community, where relations between people (like those between people and the environment) are still at the heart of a healthy lifestyle, in close contact with nature.
Is it by chance that the area and the inhabitants of Bivongi present all the above parameters of longevity? All it takes is a walk through the old town centre and a nature excursion along the Stilaro torrent and up Mount Consolino to be certain that chance has little to do with it...
The uncontaminated environment surrounding the village is furrowed by thermal springs and crystal-clear waters, so healthy that they have historically been among the best waters in Calabria.
Not to be missed is an excursion with a refreshing bath at the Marmarico Waterfalls, which, with a drop of 144 metres, qualify as the highest waterfalls in Calabria. It can be reached in any season of the year with a pleasant trek through the woods (or on board a special off-road vehicle), if one does not fear the panoramic overhang.
The theme of aquatic wellness recurs at another unmissable site in the municipality of Bivongi: the thermal baths known as Bagni di Guida. In disuse for much of the year, this striking industrial archaeology complex, in the middle of a lush forest, rises around the beneficial sulphurous gas springs that the locals call "Acque Sante".
Known since Roman times, the Guida Baths can be visited at certain times of the year (generally in summer), while the natural pools of fresh water are freely accessible at all times.
Has nature whetted your appetite? Take advantage of the opportunity to taste local specialities in the typical houses in the old town, which offer hospitality in the form of a diffuse hotel and tasty dishes of the Mediterranean diet with local 0 km products.
If you ask the people of Bivongi what is the secret of longevity, they will undoubtedly tell you that it is the Bivongi CDO wine, one of Calabria's excellent wines to which the Bivongi Wine Festival is dedicated, generally held at the end of August (an excellent time to visit the village).
Finally, to seal the quality of life in the "Village of Longevity", an aspect that experts say also positively affects the body: the spirituality that envelops the silence of these places.
We approach with reverence the Monastery of St John Theristis, a jewel of Byzantine art and still a centre of Greek Orthodox monasticism. The visit is a truly mystical experience, which the more meditative can crown with an overnight stop as guests of the monastic cells used as guest quarters.
Here, oriental monks produce typical wax candles that can be bought as souvenirs. A visit to the monastery during the Orthodox Easter period (forty days after the Catholic Easter), when you can witness the blessing of the characteristic red eggs, is not to be missed.