The Feast of San Teodoro at Laino Castello

San Teodoro Martire and the ancient village of Laino Castello
laino castello (10)

© Regione Calabria

Sites of faith

Feb 15, 2024 10:10 AM

Among the "Authentic Villages" of Italy, the village of Laino Castello, in the Pollino National Park in the province of Cosenza, is a place suspended in time and space.

Abandoned in the 1980s following an earthquake, the small medieval village of Laino Castello is now revived thanks to a series of folk traditions and events aimed at bringing the community and visitors back to where silence reigned for years.

In addition to the now-famous Christmas appointment with the Living Crib, Laino Castello also comes alive again on the occasion of the Feast of San Teodoro Martire, the village's patron saint.

San Teodoro in Laino Castello, between East and West

Founded as a possession of Erberto d'Orleans in the Lao Valley (from which the town takes its name), the territory of Laino Castello was a protagonist of the Franco-Spanish war, since when the French advanced, the impregnable Laino Castle gave refuge to the princesses of Bisignano and Stigliano, the Countess of Saponara and other rich feudal lords of the county.

The most characteristic part of Laino Castello is precisely its historical centre, perched on the San Teodoro hill. Here stand the ruins of the Feudal Castle (Castrum Layni) built by the Lombards to defend themselves from the advancing Byzantines and which became one of the seven most important gastaldates in southern Italy.

Laino Castello
Regione Calabria

All that remains of the original building are the turreted bastions and the Church of San Teodoro Martire, of Byzantine origin with a medieval tower.

Inside the church, among the precious 16th-century works of art, is the triptych depicting Saint Theodore Martyr, patron saint of Laino Castello, on a white horse. It is the protagonist of a heartfelt religious festival celebrated every year on 9 November, in association with the San Teodoro Fair.

In fact, the remote hill of Laino Castello corresponds to the ancient Mercurion, an important monastic eparchy on the border between the Byzantine and Lombard empires, where, between the 5th and 11th centuries, thousands of Italo-Greek monks escaped from the iconoclastic East found shelter: not by chance, it was named after San Teodoro, a soldier-martyr from Armenia, who was burnt alive in the 4th century.

Laino Castello
Regione Calabria

What to see and do in Laino Castello

On the occasion of the San Teodoro Feast, it is possible to taste some of the local specialities of Pollino and Laino Castello in particular, such as the typical làgane e cìciri (homemade pasta and chickpeas), zafaràni crùschi (dried peppers) and other goodness characteristic of the Calabrian-Lucanian mountains.

During the Christmas period, the event not to be missed is the famous "Living Crib", fully staged in the medieval village with dozens of figures.

During the warm season, lovers of outdoor sports gather in Laino Castello and the Pollino National Park area to enjoy rafting and canoeing on the Lao River and scenic hikes along forest trails, where they can observe the local flora and fauna at close quarters.

Rafting Lao
Regione Calabria