Excursion to Monte Cucudo

One of the longest Via Crucis in Italy
Monte Cuccudo 2

© Comitato del Crocefisso di Monte Cucudo

Sites of faith

Feb 16, 2024 8:39 AM

Did you know that one of the longest Vie Crucis in Italy is in Cittanova, in the province of Reggio Calabria?

It is the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) leading to the summit of Monte Cucudo, a path immersed in greenery that combines nature and spirituality.

Created in 2008 along with other measures to enhance the Monte Cucudo trail, thanks to an active local committee, the 2,300-metre-long Via Crucis allows for a hike punctuated by various prayer stops up to the mountain's panoramic peak, where a suggestive crucifix stands.

Monte Cucudo, between nature and spirituality

Monte Cucudo takes its name from the Latin oculus (eye) and with its 821 metres in height has, since antiquity, represented a natural lookout over the Tyrrhenian Sea of Reggio Calabria, from the Costa degli Dei of Capo Vaticano/Monte Poro to the Costa Viola of Monte Sant'Elia and the Strait.

A unique panoramic view of great impact, which can now be reached by a trekking path that is also a spiritual path.

In perfect harmony, body and soul are regenerated on the hike to Monte Cucudo, along which the local history intertwines with that of the landscape, leaving important marks on the area, starting with the large pyramid-shaped granite stone on which a Greek cross was carved.

Monte Cucudo panorama
Comitato del Crocefisso di Monte Cucudo

A fundamental artery of passage and connection from the Ionian to the Tyrrhenian side of Calabria, Monte Cucudo has been a stopover for travellers and pilgrims since Magna Graecia times. The same pilgrims who today have the opportunity to walk one of the longest Vie Crucis in Italy, at the end of which, in 1956, the Capuchin friars of Cittanova had an iron cross placed by Rocco Sgambetterra.

The statue of Christ, placed on the cross at the behest of the Mount Cucudo Crucifix Committee, dates back to 2010, and the construction of the Via Crucis path, i.e. the path leading from the Provincial Road to the top of the mountain, to spring 2023.

Monte Cuccudo statua
Comitato del Crocefisso di Monte Cucudo

The route is also practicable by mountain bike and it offers all fans of outdoor sports the opportunity to experience nature at close quarters.

What to see in Cittanova

On the slopes of Monte Cucudo, Cittanova extends like a jewel set in the Gioia Tauro Plain.

A stroll through the historical centre is enough to admire a series of works and places not to be missed, starting with the Church of San Girolamo. Built a few years after the 1783 earthquake, at the behest of Maria Antonia Grimaldi Serra to house the remains of her mother, the princess of Gerace Maria Teresa Grimaldi laid in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the church is rich in works of art.

Another building of worship worth visiting is the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima del Rosario, in Baroque style, with its interior embellished with frescoes, stuccoes and statues.

Cittanova
Regione Calabria

Walking among Cittanova's 19th-century palaces, distinguished by their sumptuous granite and sandstone portals made by the stonemasons of the time, we finally reach the town's gem: the Villa Comunale "Carlo Ruggiero", declared a National Monument of Historical-Naturalistic Interest.

The wonder of this place, which in summer guarantees coolness and in every season is a meeting point for the community, leaves one breathless: the section of the Botanical Garden is home to various plant species that are rare or completely unique in Italy, which find their ideal habitat here thanks to the special soil and microclimate conditions (California Sequoias, Cedars of Lebanon, Tulip Trees, etc.).

Built at his own expense by Carlo Ruggiero, the Villa Comunale in Cittanova also houses a "Garden of the Righteous", in memory of the fallen "Righteous" in the world, represented by 34 palm trees.

 

Cittanova is also a must-visit destination for gourmets, who can enjoy here in all seasons one of the excellences of Calabrian cuisine: the renowned Stocco di Cittanova.

A prince of the Cittanovese table, stocco is one of the area's typical products, linked to a long gastronomic tradition that sees it cooked as a triumphant dish, but also used as an ingredient for various other dishes.

The history of stockfish in Cittanova is linked to its importation from Norway and the special treatment it undergoes here, softened by the Aspromontane waters to make it tastier. It is cooked in a thousand ways (in salads, raw, sweet and sour, with mushrooms, fried, etc.), although the classic recipe remains that of stockfish and potatoes and the typical ventricelle.

The best time to taste it? In mid-August, on the occasion of the National Feast of Stocco, a real summer festival with which to end our excursion in style.

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