Soveria Mannelli is the Calabrian town with the strongest connection to Garibaldi and the expedition of the thousand.
On 30 August 1860, almost ten thousand Bourbons under the command of General Ghio surrendered without fighting Garibaldi's troops led by General Stocco. To this day, it is still unclear why General Ghio, despite having an army equal in number or perhaps even larger than that of the insurgents, agreed to surrender, ordering his men to return home in total safety.
A few days after the surrender at Soveria Mannelli, Giuseppe Ghio joined the Piedmontese army and was appointed by Garibaldi himself as commander of Sant'Elmo, the square in Naples.
To commemorate the passage of the Hero of the Two Worlds, Garibaldi's Obelisk was erected in Piazza dei Mille in memory of the historical event. A memorial plaque was also affixed to the facade of Casa Sirianni, where Garibaldi stayed overnight.
Soveria Mannelli truly captivates all its visitors thanks to its characteristic streets and splendid architecture. But the real charm of this village that nestles between valleys, mountains and dense woodland, is its picturesque surroundings at the foot of the Reventino hills and the Sila Piccola plateau.
The village is criss-crossed by the silver flickers of crystal clear springs which glisten against the surrounding greenery of the woodland. If you follow the stream, you will reach the locality of Portapiana which seems to be dug into the rock. It is the site of an ancient watermill, to the right of which you can admire the Baron’s fountain.
In the old part of the village, in San Tommaso, you can admire unique local architecture, splendid churches and historic palazzos such as the Town Hall, which houses works by contemporary painters such as Rotella, Turkeyro and Puthod.
Overlooking the village is the Mother Church of San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist), which was built on the ruins of an ancient Oratory. Inside the church you can admire a polychrome marble altar which came from the nearby Abbey of Santa Maria di Corazzo. In fact, in 1910 the altar was recognised as a national monument.
The delicate beauty of the Church of San Michele Arcangelo and the small church of Madonna degli Abbandonati, a small casket that houses a painting on zinc found by chance in a nearby patch of brambles, will also delight all those who lay eyes on them.
Piazza dei Mille is home to the previously mentioned Monument to Garibaldi, a quadrangular white marble obelisk erected in 1888 in memory of the disarmament of the Bourbon army on 30 August 1860.
Historical images dominate the town squares, meeting places and events and cultural events that are enhanced by the beauty of an unspoilt and grandiose mountain landscape.
Soveria Mannelli is also famous for the production of traditional cooked meats and cheeses, but mainly for the processing of woodland produce, as can be seen from its numerous fruit processing companies.
Built on the ruins of the ancient Oratory, the Church of San Giovanni Battista dominates the historic village of Soveria Mannelli and is dedicated to the city's patron saint.
Its current shape and architecture are the result of a number of renovations carried out during the early 19th century, whereas the bell tower was built in the early 20th century.
The basilica has three naves and a simple, stone facade. Inside, among friezes and decorative elements, you will find the wooden bust of Saint John the Baptist of the Neapolitan school.
The altar, in carved polychrome marble, is of unquestionable value. This treasure formerly belonged to the nearby Abbey of Santa Maria del Corazzo but was moved to the mother church. The work was recognised as a national monument in 1910.
Visitors can also marvel at a white marble stoup and the ex ossibus relic of the founder of Opus Dei, San Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer.