EXCURSION to San Pantaleone
Municipality: San Lorenzo
Elevation difference: irrelevant
Altitude: 600 metres approximately.
Time: 2-3 hours (circuit)
Drinking water: at the chapel and at S. Pantaleone
Ordinance Survey Maps: Folio n°615 Sez. I Bova
S. Pantaleone in a hamlet belonging to the Municipality of San Lorenzo, at 657 metres above sea level, famous, in the past, for the Fiera della Cappella [Chapel Fair]. This fair used to be one of the Tuccio Valley’s most important events and acted as a setting for the celebrations associated with Madonna della Cappella [Our Lady of the Chapel], 12th-15th August. It represented one of the most important moments of the year for the families of the district because it was then that seeds, animals, agricultural tools were bought and sold and the trousseaux of future brides prepared. The farming activities carried out then, such as the production of oil and cereals, are still very much alive in this district. The following are a must for visitors: the Belvedere, the Gurnaradini (where a fascinating Nativity pageant is staged) and Mantica -Tower wards, the remains of the church of S.Nicola [St. Nicholas] and the Chapel which houses an exceptional icon (maybe from the twelfth century). It is also possible to visit, inside the village, the home of the poet, journalist and patriot Francesco Saccà, one of the last twilight poets. Then, but only for those who are fond of treasure hunting, the ruins of the convent of Santa Caterina La Gurda [Saint Catherine La Gurda]. The itinerary consists of a simple circular walk through country roads where one comes across interesting monoliths like the Varva fortress.
Arriving by car
From Reggio Calabria , take the SS 106 and drive for about 30 kilometres as far as Melito di Porto Salvo, then leave the coast road and follow the signs for S. Lorenzo. After a 10-kilometre drive, cross the bridge over the Melito River and after a further 5 kilometres, you will find yourself in San Pantaleone.
Drive through the hamlet and follows the signposts for the Santurario della Cappella [Chapel Sanctuary] where you may park your car.
As the Sanctuary is usually open on weekdays, it is well worth while making a visit to admire the charming icon of the Virgin Mary. The trail begins from the tarmacked road to the side of the Sanctuary which passes by the cemetery. After about ten minutes, you will catch sight of a village called Condofuri and of the river by the same name; at the junction, turn right onto a dirt track. Here, you can admire views of San Lorenzo, Monte Scafi, Campi di Bova and Bova. At the following junction, a short detour to the right, will take you to the Rocca di Varva [Varva Fortress]. Return to the main dirt track which further on, is paved. The itinerary leads you into the streets of San Pantaleone. When you reach the parish church, behind it you will see the baronial tower and, a little farther on, a square providing a splendid view. If you wish to visit the ruins of the convent of Santa Caterina, take the road to the right that departs from the square and follow the dirt track, right, which takes you to an olive grove on the slopes of Monte Urda. A track with several bends, leads gently uphill to imposing terracings and a long stairway leading +practically to the top of Monte Urda from which you can enjoy numerous splendid vistas. At the bottom of the terracings, near a gigantic oak tree, hidden amid brambles and resting against a craggy outcrop, you will find the ruins of the convent.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca.