History of Serra San Bruno
Serra San Bruno – A Secluded Monastery Set Within Forests
Journey away from the spectacular coastlines of Calabria and you will discover hidden gems high in the mountains. Serra San Bruno is one of those, a piece of history still functioning today as it was 900 years ago, surrounded by the striking beauty of Le Serre natural park. Located within the Vibo Valentia province and hidden in the Appenine mountains, this destination is less than an hour’s journey from both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts.
The main attraction of Serra San Bruno is ‘La Certosa’, the Carthusian monastery which has been on this site since Saint Bruno of Cologne built the charterhouse in 1095. Home to a handful of monks who still live a simple life of seclusion dedicated to God, the location was clearly chosen for its tranquility. It is not possible to gain access to the main monastery, to ensure the privacy and solitude of the order, yet a small museum allows a insight into the history and functioning of the site. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the monks garbed in long white habits as they enter or leave the monastery (they are known to periodically venture out on walks to explore nature).
The surrounding forests of Le Serre are waiting to be explored. Walk through the trees and wear out the whole family, before returning to the extensive picnic area, where it is clear that Italians don’t do meals by halves. Forget limp sandwiches smothered in cling film- this picnic area included stone built barbecues to be able to prepare grilled lunches for the whole family.
Venture further down the pathway past the picnic area and you will find the Sanctuary of ‘Santa Maria nel Bosco’. An open spot beneath the trees, you will find a small pool in the dappled sunshine as well as a small church originating from 1783. Here is also the resting place of Saint Bruno, who died in the charterhouse in 1101. A small restaurant and agriturismo serves typical local food, featuring salamis and mushroom specialities.
The actual town of Serra San Bruno is nearby, which appeared as people settled at the respectable distance of 2km from the monastery. The town (of around 7000 people) has a selection of churches along a pretty main street, but not a lot else to explore. The main attraction remains the beauty of the surrounding forest.