According to some scholars, the origins of Longobucco date back to the time of Magna Graecia. In fact, due to its silver mines located along the river Manna, it is often associated with the ancient city of Temesa or Tempsa, the ancient urban centre mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey.
The territory of Longobucco was once home to a large number of mines including for the extraction of silver-rich galena. This was mined and worked by the Sybarites, Crotonians, and Romans alike for the minting of their coins and was the area's most famous mined material. Next to the town centre you will find the historic nature trail known as Le Via delle Miniere (the mining trail) from which you can admire the silver mines. Along the route there are also some information boards which explain how the silver-rich galena was extracted and worked.
One specific characteristic of the town's historic centre is the winding vinedde, or narrow streets which intersect and overlap. They are often obstructed by Gafi, stairs leading to the upper floors, especially in the oldest districts which represent the true historic heart of the town.
The historic centre of Longobucco is brimming with curiosities and works of architecture, such as the 11th-century Civic Tower, later transformed into a bell tower and known by the locals as U Campanaru. The Chiesa Matrice (Matrix Church), which is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and houses a collection of sacred art works and objects, is also of particular interest.
Other important churches include those of Santa Maria Maddalena, Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the church of dell'Addolorata.
The noble palazzos, whose portals demonstrate the sophisticated art of stone working, are also deserving of admiration. Like Palazzo Citino and its fascinating facade decorated with traditional Masks, in Piazza Matteotti, the ancient Piazza Grande is overlooked by other decadent residences. Just opposite Palazzo Graziani, in Via Portamarina, which was once the main street from which you could access the port overlooking the sea, you will find a beautiful arched 18th-century portal, which is the last remaining part of an ancient villa.
For those keen to learn more about the history of local craftsmanship, a visit to the weaving museum is not to be missed. There you will find a variety of objects that truly encapsulate its history.
Those who want to fully experience the characteristic charm of Longobucco simply must visit the wine cellars which have preserved the traditional lifestyle of a small mountain village. You can spend many a pleasant evening there as you relish the flavours of days gone by.
Many of them pride themselves on their friendly atmosphere and your traditional glass of sciannichiaddù wine will be accompanied by the famous hospitality of the local residents.
The enchanting scenery of the Sila National Park is perfect for an excursion to discover the nearby centuries-old woods of the Fossiata, in the areas of Palagoria, Quattro Frati, Gallopane, Corvo and Cerviolo. Of course, the well-equipped paths that lead to the ancient mines are also an ideal choice for a walk. Cecita Lake, an artificial basin located in the heart of Sila, is also a stunning place to visit.
Among the historical and architectural assets of Longobucco the Chiesa Matrice, which is dedicated to Santa Maria and has been a Marian Sanctuary since 1960, is particularly impressive.
Its black stone facade is of particular aesthetic importance and features partly baroque and partly Romanesque style decorations, such as the small crouching lion.
The interior is decorated in 18th-century Baroque style and features a majestic Neapolitan Baroque style high altar in polychrome marble. The numerous 18th-century works, all in wood and created by the carvers of Serra San Bruno, are also particularly precious. Among these are the choir behind the high altar, the sacristy, the screen of the main door, the majestic pulpit, the confessionals, and the organ.
Paintings include the canvases of the side altars and two large frescoes in the choir entitled The Nativity and The Adoration of the Magi. These two paintings are the work of Cristoforo Santanna, one of the greatest Calabrian artists of the 18th century and are inspired by human models from Longobucco.
The Baptismal Font is the most important work in the church. In a Romanesque-Norman style, this anonymous work that was almost certainly created by local masters was built in the shape of a chalice and features three lions supporting an octagonal cup.
The bell tower of Longobucco, referred to as U Pupulu eru Campanaru by the locals, is an isolated tower with a quadrangular body. Built from square blocks of exposed tufa, it sits on a base of large granite pebbles cemented with lime. At around 32 metres tall, the bell tower is positioned in front of the Chiesa Matrice church. It does not line up with the church, but rather converges towards its facade.
Regarding the historiographical data of the Tower, some information in the artistic literature associates Longobucco's bell tower more closely with the much more famous bell tower of Melfi Cathedral. This leads us to believe that it is among one of the oldest bell towers in the whole region.
Longobucco has always attracted the attention of the Italian and European scientific community thanks to its particular geo-environmental conditions which, over the centuries, have seen a tenacious and determined community become firmly rooted in the area with a history that spans more than a thousand years. The mining area surrounding Longobucco is associated with the thriving mining industry of the past, which has led to the creation of a fascinating historical nature path known as Via delle Miniere (the mining trail).
Along this path equipped with educational panels for visitors, you will be able to admire the quarries of the silver mines and learn how galena was extracted and worked. Even the abbot Joachim of Fiore used this precious material to create two silver chalices based on his own drawings.
Numerous silver artefacts produced in Longobucco have been donated to the Popes and are still on display in various museums in Naples. A few objects are also housed in the Chiesa Matrice in the village.
The Museum of Silane Handicraft and Land Defence is located in the beautiful setting of the former Convent of the Franciscan Friars Minor. It is a concrete means of disseminating knowledge about the Silan territory and its inhabitants.
The Museum is part of the project for the redevelopment of the Sila National Park and its promotion as a destination for cultural, natural, and sports tourism. The museum is particularly focussed on the segment of visitors interested in protected areas in order to promote the link between historical-cultural, ecological-environmental and food and wine heritage.
For this reason, it has been designed as an "eco-museum", i.e. as a cultural institution whose essential components are the territory, the population, and the heritage. This includes all the elements that have been of particular value to the community over time.
Longobucco is one of the few remaining areas in Calabria where fabrics are still woven on ancient hand looms.
Famous for its production of priceless bedspreads and tapestries since ancient times, the art of weaving in Longobucco is highly appreciated by scholars and visitors alike. As you venture into the small village you will encounter precious reminders of the splendour of the local weaving tradition. You will be able to admire patterns and colours that distinguish a unique form of textile craftsmanship, not only within Calabria but in the entire Italian peninsula.
One special feature of the fabrics made on Longobucco looms is the way in which the pattern is not a simple embroidery but rather a part of the fabric.
The specific morphology of Longobucco made it the ideal location for the rise of banditry.
Before and after the Unification of Italy, Longobucco was the birthplace of numerous bandits, including some of the most notorious and invincible in the entire region. Among the most famous local bandits are Antonio Santoro, known as King Curemme and, perhaps more importantly, Domenico Strafaci, referred to as Palma.
Stories about both of them have been handed down via the oral tradition of the local people, in a period of severe famine among the weakest strata of society, who were driven to search for food more than for wealth.
Domenico Strafaci, known as Palma, went into hiding in 1860 so as not to end up in prison after slapping a rich gentleman from Rossano. After 1862, people often referred to him as being brave, fearless, and sometimes violent, but he was also considered a defender of the poor. This King of the Mountain was murdered treacherously on the evening of 12 July1869 by a friend of his who had given into the temptation of a substantial bounty.
A few years ago, the Municipal Administration named a street in Rossano Calabro after the notorious bandit.
The traditional local foods and wines are an important part of the village’s cultural identity. It is mainly for this reason that they have been protected by the local inhabitants.
Among the traditional dishes, a typical Sunday lunch could consist of ferriatti and grastatu handmade fusilli with a lamb ragout. During the carnival, vermiciaddi, consisting of long and soft vermicelli with a pork sauce, and finninula, a particular pork sausage made with leftovers are served.
Other typical dishes include stuffed pitta breads, ciambelle made of homemade bread such as A pitta cu ru maju, bread with elderflowers, or carriciaddi, bread dough kneaded with oil, flattened, and cut into strips topped with sardedda.
Typical deserts include fritti a bantu , fried and sugar-coated taralli which are best eaten hot, and chinulidde, half-moon-shaped cakes stuffed with raisin jam and nuts.