San Fili, the land of Magare and of the Fantastica

In the magical atmosphere of San Fili, amidst witches and legends

© Regione Calabria

Tradition and folklore

Known to be the "Land of the Magare" and the "Fantastica", the medieval village of San Fili, in the province of Cosenza, is a magical and highly suggestive place.

The sinister charm of the historical centre of San Fili, perched on three hills and embellished by numerous churches, lends itself to a visit full of Gothic legends and Instagrammable views.

Ready to meet the Magare of San Fili and the Fantastica?

The Witches of San Fili

Along the road to Paola lies a medieval village, guardian of ancient Calabrian traditions and legends. Once called Terra Sancti Felicis, in honour of San Felice, the present-day town of San Fili winds around the Mother Church of the Santissima Annunziata, an imposing and elegant building with a Latin cross plan, three naves and a Baroque façade.

The interior features a carved wooden choir and several 18th-century works, such as a crucifix by Frangipane. The very symbol of the building is its side bell tower with a large 19th-century clock by the Blasi brothers.

The entire historic centre is teeming with beautiful churches, whose appearance among the alleys is an image full of fascination: from the Church of the Immacolata to the Church of the Ritiro, with works by Gagini, via the Church of Santa Lucia, where Abbot Gioacchino da Fiore also preached.

San Fili
Regione Calabria

In the light of such beauty, one wonders what the lugubrious charm of this village consists of. Well, San Fili is known in Calabria as the "Land of the Magare".

Who are the magàre? Women who have gone down in history as witches and sorceresses who, in actual fact, were nothing more than ancient healers expert in herbs and natural remedies, capable of removing the evil eye (sfàscino) and, according to legend, preparing love potions.

A summer event is also dedicated to the Magare of San Fili, known as the "Night of the Magare", during which the tradition is revived through female masquerades, musical performances and tastings.

Fantastica of San Fili or Befana?

Among the mysterious creatures linked to the village of San Fili, one above all is truly awe-inspiring. It is the Fantastica of San Fili, a sort of "tutelary deity" of the village somewhere between a Befana, a witch and a magical protector.

Evoked in ancient times to frighten children and force them not to stray too far, the Fantastica of San Fili is represented in the form of a flying woman who appears at the crossroads of roads leading out of the town. The same figure is also known in the village of Conflenti (CZ), on Mount Reventino, so much so that the plural term "Fantastiche" is used.

The Fantastica of San Fili has a specific characteristic: she wears a wedding dress and as you approach, she takes on an increasingly frightening and ghostly appearance, so be wary of brides wandering alone through the streets of San Fili!

Murales Fantastica San Fili

One of the "danger spots" in the village is Piazza Francesco Cesario, known as the "Crucetta" because of the crossroads it generates, in particular the balcony that from the square overlooks the cliff known as the "Zumpu d'a Fantastica".

Legend has it that the Fantastica was a woman in search of her lost son and that, gripped by despair, she donned her wedding dress and began to harass all the children along the way.

Myth and reality often meet in Calabrian traditions, telling the story of enchanting places like San Fili, around which a spark of magic still hovers today.

Last update: Feb 14, 2024 10:52 AM