If you’ve ever traveled south on the A3 Highway through Calabria, you might have noticed ancient ruins looming above the motorway. This sight – il Monastero di Colloreto – was built in 1545 as an Augustan convent. The ruins are remarkable and the site is much larger than it seems from the street, however, reaching them is another issue.
From a base near Morano Calabro, visitors trek steeply uphill, pass along a dusty road, through a rain-made waterway (that is about as wide as one tennis shoe), and hop over a barbed-wire fence that is half demolished.
Once on top, the ruins stretch across the hill where your guide will explain each part of the convent in detail, tell you where the majestic paintings have been moved to and offer you a glass of robust red wine once you have returned to his restaurant.
The monastery is remarkable, not only for its isolation – unlikely you will run into anyone there – but because of its size, the panoramic views it offers of the Pollino Mountains and the dramatic cliff on which it perilously sits awaiting the next visitor who will come and marvel at its mystery.
(Image courtesy of Matthias Drosdek. Many thanks!)