At the tender age of 84, I felt the urge to return to the place of my childhood and youth: Calabria. So, last year I gifted myself the visit of Bivongi, the village of longevity, in the valley of Stilaro (Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy). In this beautiful place surrounded by nature, I made friends with the the locals, people between 90 and 99 years old. And in the last 10 years the centenarians numbered at least 22! A world record that the village only shares with the island of Okinawa in Japan.
Well, of course I also made friends with the many younger people!
Sadly, this delightful place, Bivongi, has had a 10% population decrease since the 1950s. Thus, the entrepreneur Francesco Carnovale, strong supporter of the beauties of this village, has created a new opportunity for Bivongi: by renovating the family house, he ended up building a widespread hotel, focused on experiential tourism.
I didn’t know what experential tourism is before meeting Francesco. The houses have been recovered without demolition, keeping the original facilities unchanged, and using only local materials: stone, wood, and fiumara granite. This village of longevity therefore offers a characteristic and very pleasant stay. Tourists can share the culture of the place, its traditions, and taste the typical and genuine products of the region. Foods that I was fond of as a child.
Those who visit Bivongi have the opportunity to admire places of ancient beauty, enjoy wonderful landscapes surrounded by nature and appreciate the peace that reigns supreme.
The aim is to preserve the architectural heritage of the village and revive the local economy by creating a sustainable tourism model, making Bivongi a point of reference for experiential tourists interested in longevity, environment, physical wellbeing, and a healthy life style. That’s me, Vittorio!
Very striking are the Marmarico waterfalls, which can be reached on foot through the woods, or on board a small motorized buggy. There I experienced the joy of meditation and dynamic Yoga, surrounded by the relaxing sound of the highest waterfalls in Calabria. It therefore comes as no suprise that the falls have obtained the recognition of Italian Marvel!
What can I do to help Bivongi and its people? it may sound like a dreamer’s dream – I know I am a dreamer – but I want to help because I see a genuine and good quality about Francesco’s and his friends’ effort to raise to new life this beautiful, intact place and its peaceful and respectful traditions. I sense they don’t want to “overdo” and “sell” their vision. I sense they care for their community.
So I invite you to visit Bivongi, and follow the example of the long-lived locals, for a better, healthier and happier life. If some of you will tour the area, I will share my Yoga practice with you. The place and its qualities will do the rest.