Parco Naturale Regionale delle Serre

Points of Interest

The 4 Sites of Community Interest of Serre Park

Within the Serre Nature Regional Park 4 SCI - Sites of Community Interest can be found: Bosco Santa Maria, Lacina, Stilo-Archiforo, Lago Angitola.
Such areas cover 37.08% of the Serre Park's total surface.

Angitola Lake
Angitola Lake

The Certosa and Santa Maria del Bosco

The first Certosa (Carthusian monastery) was establishd in 1090, when Saint Bruno went to Calabria. The ground where it was possible to built the Certosa was given as a generous present by the Count Roger II of Sicily. These places were ideal for divine contemplation, loneliness and silence, fundamental elements to live as hermits (desertum).
Here St. Bruno founded the Santa Maria del Bosco hermitage, and only 2 km far from it, where the present Certosa is situated, he established the S. Stefano monastery.
Nevertheless, on the 7th February 1783, a terrible earthquake stopped everything and destroyed the Certosa. Of the old Certosa only a few traces remain: the Chapter hall, the dining hall, the ruins of the Certosa and the cloister of the attorneys. With a majestic granite fountain of the 17th century, the towers built in 1534 and the walls, a Museum of the Certosa - attached to the still functioning and therefore inaccessible Certosa - was built to collect the testimonies about the difficult facts of this place. In 1900 the new Certosa was built, where still today the Carthusians live.

Following the main road, about 2km from the Certosa, there is the Santa Maria del Bosco Regional Sanctuary, within the wonderful silver fir forest of the same name. Here visitors will find the artificial lake with the statue of St. Bruno in it, represented on his knees while praying. The small lake was created by the inhabitants of Serra as a testimony to the hard penances the Saint subjected himself to. The small lake is made of granite, with water spurting from a recess of 1645. A small bridge on the left leads to a stone fountain dating back to 1190. Beyond the large stone steps one reaches the Santa Maria del Bosco Regional Sanctuary.
The entrance consists of a simple granite gate with a semi-circular arch on the top of it, in a niche on the top of the façade a half-length of St. Bruno is placed.
The interior keeps an altar built with two marble Carthusian coats of arms and a wooden statue of the Madonna of the 19th century.
Opposite there is a "dormitory" (cell of the Saint where he was buried for the first time), where the bones of the Saint - who slept and prayed here - have been entombed.
In a cave dug in the stone there is a wonderful marble statue representing St. Bruno, sculpted by Stefano Pisani in the late 18th century.

For further information and visits: - Museo della Certosa - C.da Certosa, 1 - 89822 Serra San Bruno (VV); Ph. +39 0963 70608


S.GiovanniTheristis Orthodox Monastery

The Orthodox Monastery of S.Giovanni Theristis, a real masterpiece of the byzantine-norman art of the 11th century, became, after nine centuries of neglect, the monastery of the greek-orthodox monks of Mount Athos. They were the real authors of the orthodox restoration in Calabria, and they brought the monastery back to its ancient splendor. For 14 years they had been the keepers of the Santo Mietitore, but due to almost unknown facts in 1998 they went back to the mount Athos. Today it is the main monastery of the Romanian-Orthodox monks. Here there are several frescoes realized in a byzantine style of the 13th century, but the most wonderful painting, representing the Madonna and Child, has been stolen.


The Carthusian monk's life between cell and Cubicolo

Serra San Bruno: the Carthusian's cell, where the monk spend greatest part of his time in the contemplation of the Lord, consists of an upper floor and of a ground floor. Here there is a woodshed and the opportunity to reach a small closed garden where the monk can practice some activities. On the upper floor, next to a first "Ave Maria" room - since there is a representation of the virgin Mary - there is the cell's real heart: the "Cubicolo". It is a real artwork. It is furnished with a wooden bed closed on three sides as if it was a closet, with an oratory composed of a seat and of a kneeling bench and, under the window, there is a table functioning both as desk and as dining table. A small wood-burning stove completes the furniture.

For further information and visits: - Museo della Certosa – C.da Certosa,1 – 89822 Serra San Bruno (VV). Ph. +39 0963 70608 mobile ph. +39 331 7798429 - email


Immaculate Conception Church

Badolato. The wonderful church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception is situated beyond the eastern entrance of the village, on the hill where the view extends from Capo Colonna to Punta Stilo.

They started building it in 1686, it has a granite portal attributed to the masons from Serra San Bruno. Two columns on a base, placed on both sides of the entrance opening, support an architrave with a recess where the year of the church's establishment (1686) and the year of the restoration works (1859) are reported.
The inside of the church features a ceiling with gypsum plasters decorated by artists from Serra San Bruno. The barrel vault is divided into three squares alternating with belts with flowers. In the center of each square there is a medallion. The vault bottom is blue, with flower decorations and white and gold spirals. Near the apsis there is the octagonal dome with a series of windows which represents one of the most significant examples of the 17th century's art in Badolato.
The high altar is made of white marble, the majolica floor features drawings of daisies. On the left wall there is an oil on canvas representing the Croce Angelica ("Angelic Cross") by Tommaso Aquinate and several works by Neapolitan and local artists. There are valuable silver objects (the chalice, the monstrance, the top of the Prior's stick) realized by Neapolitan artists.
On the apsis's outside wall there is a majolica panel (1800) representing the Immaculate Conception (created in Sqillace).


The Cattolica

The Cattolica is a small greek-byzantine temple whose construction dates back to the 10th century, and it is situated at the foot of the Mount Consolino. The façades of the small church, having an almost square shape, are covered with belts consisting of red clay bricks, with the spaces between the junctions filled with mortar. On the left of the entrance door there is a recess which has been left as it was found in 1914, which might be an ancient tomb. On the top of the church there are five cylindrical domes covered with tiles placed in a rhombus shape and split in the middle by similar bricks, the roof and the domes are covered by yellow-reddish shingles.
On the top of the entrance door there is a wooden lintel placed on the jambs of the door itself. Above the lintel there is a semi-circular arch framed with cotto bricks. Within the structure four columns rise from the floor composed by red clay small squares: two of them are made of cipollino marble, one of Carrara marble and one of granite, and they support the vault of the ceiling, dividing the interior into nine equal squares, excluding the recess of the three apses.
On the shaft of the first column on the right a cross is engraved, and it is framed by a Greek inscription meaning: "God, our Lord appeared in front of us". Opposite the entrance door there is a large opening which might be both an ancient tomb and the ancient entrance of the monks who inhabited the caves on the mountain ridge, behind their small church. Of extraordinary value are also the frescoes kept in the Cattolica.


Piedigrotta small Church

Pizzo Calabro: this Church's history swings between myth and reality. The former tells that, around the first half of 1600, a ship coming from Naples and carrying a canvas depicting the Madonna di Piedigrotta was stricken by a violent storm. The captain and his crew started praying to the canvas situated in his cabin. During the terrible cloudburst the ship crashed against a cliff, and the load was lost. Fortunately, the whole crew, including the captain, managed to swim and reach the shore. Also the canvas and the ship's bell dating back to 1632 arrived at the same point of the coast. The bay where the men rushed to safety was not frequented by fishermen, as it is often told, but by the quarry workers who went there to cut the blocks of sedimentary rock, which is wrongly called "tuff", used in the construction industry. The workers, along with the sailors, took the canvas of the Madonna and put it within an inlet of the rock to protect it from possible storm surges. This attempt failed: other two storm surges occurred and took the canvas away, but it always went back to the point where it was found the first time. So the workers considered this fact as the will of the Madonna, and in front of the place where the canvas was found they enlarged a preexisting cave to turn it into a church where the canvas was placed.

For information, visits and in-depth information: - Cooperativa Kairos, Via Nazionale, snc - 89812 Pizzo (VV) Ph. +39 0963 532523 - +39 392 0580111


The Royal Ironworks and the Weapon Factory

The Mongiana Royal Ironworks and Workshops were an important iron and steel factory built in Mongiana in 1770 - 1771 by the House of Bourbon of Naples. Part and parcel of the industrial and military plant of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and basic plant for the production of materials and iron intermediate products which were then finished there or in the iron and steel plant of Pietrarsa, it gave a job to about 1,500 workers.
Overwhelmed by the facts linked with the process of political unification of the Italian peninsula, it was moved to the background by the Savoy government, therefore its fast decline started, which led to the suspension of its activity in 1881.
Only recently it has been possible to recover the remains of the iron and steel plant, which is now under restoration works with the aim to create a territorial museum at tourists' and visitors' disposal.


The Ferdinandea (Bourbons' forest and dwelling)

Part and parcel of the history of Stilo's artworks is represented by the Ferdinandea, a wide "administrative island" situated near the village, among thick and luxuriant beech and silver fir forests.
Ferdinand II of the two Sicilies chose this place as his summer dwelling, but others think that it was the second building of an ironworks, branch of the iron and steel plants of Mongiana.
The wide Bourbon building complex was used, in the first half of the 19th century, as the head office of the Royal Ironworks and Foundry, which had been working for a long time and represented a significant income source for the whole area.
Within the estate it is worth visiting a lively and colored garden with a small artificial lake in the middle of it.
The building complex was equipped with a chapel which still exists, and with a private museum which once kept a great collection of paintings, pottery, antiques and other objects of great artistic interest.


Itinerary of the Castles

Norman Castle

Arena: Norman Castle of the 11th century, mostly rebuilt by the Concubet Marquises and the Dukes of Acquaviva (between the 16th and the 17th century). The castle was destroyed by the earthquake which occurred in 1783. Today a part of the angular towers of the perimeter walls are still visible, and they represent the most useful tool to reconstruct the almost thousand-year old history of one of the main defensive structures in our province, that is also the only one of sure Norman origin.

For further information and visits contact the Municipality of Arena- +39 0963 355602
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The Castle of the Baroness Scoppa

Cardinale: the castle of the baroness Scoppa rises up on one of the mountain elevations around the Lacina lake (one of Serre Park's SCI), in the territory belonging to the municipality of Cardinale (CZ). The castle was once the summer dwelling of the baroness who lived in Sant'Andrea sullo Jonio (the last owner died in 1912), and it overlooked the Lacina wetland which was owned by the baroness herself.
The exact year when the castle was built is unknown, but the first brick part was likely built in the second half of the 16th century.
Today the imposing ruins of this castle are surrounded by a pine forest which has grown thanks to the afforestation works, and even though it does not overlook the Lacina valley anymore it still maintains its charm intact. This site has a double value: on the one hand it is possible to visit the ruins of this castle, on the other hand visitors can enjoy the beauty of the uncontaminated natural heritage where it is situated.

For further information and visits
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The Castle of Pizzo

Pizzo: built in the second half of the 15th century by Ferdinand I of Aragon the castle of Pizzo has two large cylindrical angular towers. The bigger tower, also called "Torre mastra", is of Anjou origin (about 1380).
Joachim Murat, king of Naples and brother-in-law of Napoleon, during a last attempt to reconquer the kingdom of Naples, got off at the Pizzo shore on Sunday 8th October 1815, trying to rouse the people against Ferdinand IV of the Kingdom of Naples. But the attempt did not work. Joachim and his small platoon were defeated and shut up in the castle, where 5 days later, after a hasty trial, the king was sentenced to death penalty by the Military Committee established according to the law by the Bourbon Government. The castle houses a museum open all year round.

For further information and visits: +39 0963 532523; +39 340 6130383
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The Castle of Stilo

Stilo: the Normans conquered the village of Stilo in 1072 AD. Thanks to its strategical position overlooking the whole Stilaro valley, the village became a royal property and was fortified through the building of a castle. Stilo remained a royal property also under the reigns of the Swabians, of the House of Anjou and of the Crown of Aragon. The original Norman structure was not changed, and still today it is possible to notice the typical architecture of the towers, although of the castle only the ruins remained.
The Stilo castle was built in the 11th century by Roger II of Sicily for defensive purposes on both the Stilaro valley and the territories of southern Calabria.
To enter the castle there is a path leaving from the place where the Cattolica is located, following the itinerary which leads to the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross, at the end of which there is the castle. Only the side walls are today visible.



Serra San Bruno. The Serre Regional Nature Park, with the arrival of the warm season, remembers visitors that the "Rosarella" nursery's management has been entrusted to the Protected Area of the Calabria Region by the municipality of Serra San Bruno since 2012. The plants cultivated in the nursery are used in different ways: first of all they are used in the forest plantation sites directly managed by the Serre Park Authority and for environmental education purposes. From this point of view, the "Rosarella" nursery represents a point of interest of extraordinary significance.
Next months the Serre park will realize a laboratory within the nursery, to carry out researches in the field of the sustainable development, and become an important place for the environmental education activities especially dedicated to pupils.

For further information: Serre Regional Nature Park, popularization service, + 39 0963 772825

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