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The town of Rende is now quite extensive, but it is the historical part of the town along the top of the hill that is of interest to visitors.
Explore Rende: Churches, Old Aristocratic Palaces and Ethnic Food
In the medieval town of Rende it is the feudal castle on the Vaglio hill that dominates a visit, along with various important aristocratic palaces such as the Zagarese Palace which houses the Museo Civico and the Vanni, Basile and Perugini Palaces. There are also several churches of interest such as Santa Maria Maggiore, a church of medieval origin, and the Church of S. Maria di Costantinopoli.
Because of the raised position of Rende you also have attractive views across the region from the town.
At the highest point of the old town stands the Norman castle. It’s a very imposing structure, probably built in the 11th century by Bohemond of Hauteville (1058-1111) and Robert Guiscard.
The castle of Rende quickly became established as one of the strengths of the defensive strategy of the Crati river Valley. The castle then passed to the Swabians and from these to the Angevins, the Aragonese and, finally, to the Adorno Counts. In modern times it became the property of the noble families of Alarcon Mendoza. See history of Rende for more details.
Church of the Rosary
The Church of the Rosary is of the late Baroque period. The lower level is dominated by the portal, with a large window panel and decorative glass. The interior of the church has a single nave and is full of ornaments along with capitals of various styles that support the cornice, which in turn is decorated with gold leaf.
The church interior is decorated with paintings by Cristoforo Santanna [1735-1805, a productive painter who was a native of Rende and of the Neapolitan school], which embellish the vault with a set of ornaments and decorations. There are also other statues of the Neapolitan school of the 18th century, a pipe organ and a wooden pulpit of the same period.
Civic Museum of Rende
In the Old Town of Rende, the Zagarese palace now houses the Civic Museum which is divided into several sections devoted to popular culture.
The museum contains about 3,000 artefacts and works of modern and contemporary art, with paintings by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), Giuseppe Pascaletti (1699-1757), Cristoforo Santanna, Carlo Carrà (1881-1966), Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978), Mario Sironi (1885-1961), and Renato Guttuso (1911-1987).
Sanctuary of the Madonna di Costantinopoli
One of the most important places of worship in the old town of Rende is the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Costantinopoli, dating back to the 17th-century and with a Latin cross and a single nave.
In the interior you will find many works of art from the 18th-20th centuries. The 18th-century painter Cristoforo Santanna was the author, among other works, of the "Madonna with Child" in the church choir and of the fresco "Maria Bambina on the arms of St. Anne”.
The fresco in the dome was designed by Achille Capizzano (1907-1951), another important painter who was a native of Rende. In the rich art gallery represented by the Shrine of Our Lady of Constantinople there are also valuable works by El Greco (1541-1614).
Chiesa del Ritiro
Another building that stands out in Rende Old Town is the “Chiesa del Ritiro”, a small sacred building situated in a 12th century monastery built by the Normans. This church has a Greek cross plan and a very simple facade with the portal carved in tuff.
In the interior you can see some chapels, in each of which you can admire sculptures and wooden altars created by local artisans over the centuries.
Restaurants and gourmet specialities
Among the impressive ancient palaces of Rende, in addition to enjoying the architecture you can also find restaurants with food served that is linked to the ancient traditions of Calabria. Here you can enjoy the dish of the day , such as the “Cappelletti” with ham and “gorgonzola” [Italian blue cheese] or the “tagliatelle” with truffles.
If you also want to enjoy the countryside there is nothing better than a picnic or a meal in the countryside, where you will find farmhouses offering equally tasty local cuisine, often with a variety of dishes based on mushrooms from the Sila.
Where is Rende?
The town of Rende is spread out along a ridge in the countryside of the Calabria province of southern Italy, to the north-west of Cosenza. You can also visit Castiglione Casentino a few kilometres east of Rende.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Calabria guide.