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Exploring the Ancient Ruins of Old Soverato

On my morning walks, I'd seen a sign for Soverato Antica (Old Soverato) but thought nothing of it.


Then one day I found a spot on Google Maps and realized...there was an ancient city just a 20-minute walk from my house!



Do you even have to ask?? Of course I went!


Getting There is Half the Fun

Something I have learned in Italy is that Google Maps is sometimes a liar. While I followed its route to the ruins, I ended up on a street with private residences and no access to the river or hill beyond.


So I ditched technology and found the way using my intuition and eyes.



I strolled down a road shaded with tall plants, the sound of the nearby Beltrame river gurgling as a backdrop. Lizards bravely shot across my path. Not knowing if the ruins of old Soverato were even accessible, I decided that the walk in and of itself was a treat.


But then I crossed a bridge, and lo and behold: the hill that was home to the former town of Soverato!


Stepping Back in Time 1000 Years

Whereas I first thought the ruins were unmaintained and wild, I saw as I climbed the hill that there were a few railings, signs about some of the ruins, and solar panels.



And yet...it still felt wild. The weeds had been trimmed, but there was no clear and easy path to walk among the ruins. (In the U.S., this would be a lawsuit waiting to happen but in Italy...boh.).


A plaque told me that the medieval site likely was built around 1000 BC. Because of its position overlooking the Ionian Sea, it was safe enough, as there would be plenty of time to see raiders headed toward the town. Before this town, there was a Roman fortification. Layers upon layers of history.



The village was well-represented socio-economically, both by villas and homes for peasants. There was a church, a mill, and a surprising number of buildings at least partially intact.


I sat on a bench facing the valley and sea below, and it felt strange. At one point, this was a bustling town with dozens or even hundreds of people. On that day, I was the only (living) soul. Eerie.


The village was occupied until a devastating earthquake in 1783. The citizens left the town to restart in what is now Soverato Superiore.


This is the Magic of Calabria



Despite living here for 11 months now, I still of course see Italy through an American lens. And it amazes me that this ruin (and hundreds of others across Italy) is like a forgotten thing. People know about it, sure, but they're not flocking to spend the day there. There's no ticket taker. No admission fee. No sunset events. No maintenance. This ancient ruin sits, lonely, waiting for someone like me to feel that spark of magic and get curious about the way things once were.



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