Leaving Cosenza towards Mount Cocuzzo, you arrive at the medieval village of Mendicino which was once an important silk centre.
Its historical centre welcomes the visitors with its Clock Tower in the “Rione Castello” (the Castle District), so called in memory of the Castello Novo (the new castle) which was portraid by the Prussian Catel, a painter, during one of his archaeological missions in 1811.
In the main square there is the little 15th century church of Saint Sebastian and the Cathedral of the 700’s which was dedicated to Saint Nicolas: he is celebrated every December 6 when groups of children go around the village knocking at every door, performing a traditional rhyme and they receive some “panettieddri” (little breads cooked in wood burning oven) as a prize.
This area district on December 25 and January 6 becomes the stage of the Nativity scene where the residents are the actors.
In front of the Tower, overlooking the remains of the old Castle, there is the Gaudio Campagna’s Palace: it was built in 1780 and it has been restoring. Giuseppe Campagna was a poet who used to spend the summer period at this palace, where there are valuable decorations on the walls and a wonderful view of the Crati valley until the Pollino Mountains.
Going down to the Town hall square, there is a rose fountain which represents the tuff that the local people used to extract from the caves, the same rocks which were used to build the Cathedral of Cosenza. In the same place we can find a big ceramic spindle to remember the women who span the silk in Mendicino until the beginning of the 900’s where now there is the Silk Museum.
The heart of the village is the main square, called in the local slang “a jazza”: all the residents gather there in their free time to discuss the news, policy and their lifetime. You can taste typical cakes at Franco’s bar or take a coffee at Mimmu u mericano (Mimmo the American) refreshing your English speaking.
In this square every December 13 you can eat the “Cuccìa” in memory of Saint Lucia. It’s a dish which has 13 ingredients: chickpeas, beans, broad beans, lentils peas, wheat, barley, olive oil and is cooked in a big pan. You can taste it in the afternoon drinking a glass of wine with locals. It’s a kind of Northern Africa couscous and it is prepared on the day of the winter solstice when the oldest women celebrate the victory of the light against the darkness praying to Saint Lucia “u carmu”, an old dirge.
The residents are very devoted to Saint Lucia and in 1593 a local poet, Sebastiano del Gaudio, published “La Tragedia Tenebra” (the Tragedy of Darkness) which tells the story of the Saint, her life and martyrdom. Nowadays in every family where there is a person called “Lucia”, they prepare the cuccìa and offer it to everyone who knocks at their door with a dish in their hands.
For those who love living the nature, not so far from the main square, the route of the 5 senses in the Botanical Park begins along the river, where you find nut, almond and mulberry trees or you can lie on green carpets with oregano, sage, mint and borage hearing just the slow-flowing river.