In 2001 we made our first sojourn to southern Italy by car. Our destination was Sicily and we had several stops along the way. In Cosenza we stayed at the Hotel San Francesco. Cosenza was a nice town and we were going to take a day drip. The receptionist at the hotel suggested San Giovanni in Fiore. Her directions ( pre GPS days) were follow the signs for Sila, a mountainous region about forty-five minutes away. It is home to the Parco Nazionale della Sila. We followed the signs and eventually arrived in San Giovanni in Fiore.
At first there was not much to see. The streets were empty of people but as we approached the center we came upon the Abbey. Music was coming from the abbey and a young man approached us. He said he was a tour guide and brought us into the Abbey,
The town appeared deserted.The abbey.Today there was a wedding in progress.
The original abbey burned in 1215 and was rebuilt on a new location in 1230. The interior shows the stone walls. We left the abbey and our tour guide took us to a piccolo ristorante. As is common in Italy, there was no sign and the door was a strubg if beads hanging down to prevent flies from coming in. The entrance certainly did not attract a crowd. Lunch was fantastic. We were give a glass of grappa to finish off the meal. In the mirror you can see the only other customers that day. I especially liked the stone work which is so prevalent in Calabria. Another street with out anyone around.As we left to head back to Cosenza, we ran into a small traffic jam. This is why I love Italy.
Map of San Giovanni in Fiore