In the middle of the Calabrian Regional Park of “Serre” mountains, at an altitude of more than 500 meters above sea level, a scent of chestnuts, oaks and beech trees, carried by a constant breath of wind, there is the ancient village of “Torre di Ruggiero”. Also called “A Turri” in local dialect, known as the “Little Lourdes”, it is a pretty mountain village surrounded by greenery and full of traditions and spirituality.
A bit of history
The origins of Torre di Ruggiero are attributable to the migration of the population of the neighboring towns that decided to settle near the fields they used to cultivate. According to what has been handed down it was the Norman lord “Ruggiero I” who, visiting these places, wanted to reunite the villages scattered in a single center, giving it only at the beginning the original name of the “Tower of Spadola”, precisely because most of the inhabitants were originally from the neighboring village of Spadola. And around 1677, according to the local tradition, started the origin of the religious cult of “Madonna delle Grazie” to which today is dedicated the own procession and Church, famous for an important pilgrimage (the main place of worship in the whole of Calabria, following the apparition of the Virgin to two local girls and the prodigious healings after followed). After the devastation of the terrible earthquake on 1783, the French made it a unique “Place/Village” (at the time it was recognized as “places” the social clusters greater than simple fractions) with a law created on 1807 – January 19th and only in May 1811 was declared its own “Municipality” which belonged to the local county of Chiaravalle. On 1864 – May 8th the village of “Tower of Spadola” became known as the “Tower of Ruggiero” in memory of its norman founder “Ruggiero I”.
Walking around the village
Lying on a basin in the middle of the valley of “Ancinale” river, the village seems to be protected from the “Serre Calabresi” mountains. Torre di Ruggiero holds a great treasure of history and ancient traditions. It’s easy to see this historical heritage walking around the village visiting ancient churches & noble palaces that keep intact the original local granite portals.
Following the cobbled streets of the old-city center you will enjoy and experience the medieval maze of narrow alleys of the village which lead yourself to the heart of Torre Ruggiero. Here, next to modern dwellings, you will also find still intact the medieval arrangement of the old village. In this scenario stands the ancient Church of “Santa Domenica” (10th century), with its beautiful three entrance portals. Even further into the streets of the village there is the Church of the Immaculate, recently restored maintaining the ancient structure of its own Norman origin. Scattered through the streets of the village it’s easier to have a look to several noble palaces, often decorated with stone portals preciously worked by the nearby masters of Serra San Bruno. Among these monuments must surely be mentioned “Palazzo Donna Anna”, now a municipal seat, recently restored. Another palace that deserves to be mentioned is “Palazzo Ravaschieri”, an imposing two-level historic building that is accessed through a granite arched portal. In the central main square of the village known as “Piazza del Popolo” you can also visit famous “Chiesa Matrice” and nearby it you can admire the beauty of the wonderful monument of the “Three Fountains”.
Torre di Ruggiero all year around
Torre di Ruggiero is an important destination for religious tourism for those travelers looking for a spiritual journey. And for this reason Torre Ruggiero is also known as the “Little Lourdes”: there are two monasteries, one Augustine and one Basilian and the Shrine “Santuario della Madonna delle Grazie” where thousands and thousands of pilgrims flock every year. An equestrian statue of the norman lord Ruggiero I has recently been created between the two monasteries. The medieval church of “Madonna delle Grazie” was rebuilt in both the 15th century and after the 1783 earthquake, which caused it to suffer several damages. The current facade is neoclassical and dates back to 1886, while the interior is baroque with a polychrome marble altar. The church is considered an important artistic heritage of all the territory also thanks the work of the famous masters of the nearby Serra San Bruno. The foundation of the Agostinian convent, dedicated to Santa Maria del Carmine, dates back to 1534. Its ruins are another amazing place to be visited just outside the village. Leaving the village you reach the cool woods where the greenery and wild nature of the “Serre Calabresi” mountains reign untouched. Here, the spring-time is the best season to enter & experience. In this green and lush territory passes the national “cammino” of CAI ITALIA following an amazing path that crosses woods and chestnuts. Finally, foodies will appreciate a feature of the agrarian landscape of Torre di Ruggiero: hazelnut trees. The main local & typical variety is called “Tonda Calabria” and in the Valley of the “Ancinale” river has its own area of choice between 350 and 700 meters above sea level. The village is part of the circuit of “hazelnut cities”.
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