Cosenza's medieval core is Calabria's best-preserved historic centre, the one piece of history that has managed to escape the earthquakes that have levelled almost everything else in the region. It rises above the confluence of the Crati and Busento rivers, its narrow lanes winding ever upwards to the hilltop castle. Legend states that Alaric, a Visigoth king, was killed and buried at the confluence of the two rivers.
In the past, Cosenza was a sophisticated and lively city but nowadays there's a gritty feel to the old town with its dark, garbage-strewn streets and fading, once-elegant palazzi. It's the gateway to La Sila's mountains, home to Calabria's most important university and a major transport hub.