Rossano (2) : Illuminated Manuscripts

Like many Calabrian towns, Rossano has two parts: one near the coast (where you’ll find the liquorice factory) and is often referred to as ‘Stazione’ or ‘Scalo’ and another one in the hills, sometimes called ‘Paese’ or ‘Vecchio’. This two town phenomenon dates back to the 1950’s when the railway (hence ‘Stazione’) was being built along the coast and people moved from older properties in the medieval hilltowns down to more modern and more accessible properties where there was more employment.


Rossano Vecchio is a short drive into the hills and is a beautiful old hill town. It’s particularly famous for its illuminated manuscript, the Codex Purpureus Rossanensis which is at the Museo Diocesano. The Codex is an ancient Greek genesis of four gospels dating back to the 6th century AC and of Byzantine origin with the gospels written in silver ink on purple dyed parchment. Apparently only one page is on show and it’s turned over once a year so no-one will ever see the entire book in their lifetime. The Codex was entered into the UNESCO register on 9 October 2015 and is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world.



Having made it sound amazing, I now have to admit that I didn’t get to see this as I made the mistake of trying to go on a Monday when most Italian museums are shut. However,  the old town of Rossano has many beautiful buildings, fruit/veg/herb shops and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside so it’s worth a look either way and if you see the Codex, then that’s a bonus!



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