What to see (and eat) in Reggio Calabria
What to see (and eat) in Reggio Calabria
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I'm leaving the province of Vibo Valentina and Tropea with a short morning visit to Capo Vaticano, on my way to Reggio Calabria. It's a breathtaking view from the lighthouse, on the threshold of mythical places like Scilla. The story of Scylla (Scilla) and Charybdis is one of the most famous episodes from Homer's "Odyssey". I'm not going to rewrite the entire myth here, so you'll have to make do with my abbreviated version. 

Capo Vaticano

"On the journey home, Odysseus comes across such a tricky piece of sea. On one side, there's Scylla, a monster with six heads, always hungry. On the other side, Charybdis, a whirlpool that swallows everything in its path. A real deadlock situation! The sorceress Circe said to Odysseus: 'Hey Odysseus, why not sail past Scylla, because you'll be sure to lose your boat to that whirlpool.' So that's what he did. Six of his seamates became snacks for Scylla. Sad, but better than losing everyone. And that's how it sometimes goes in life, right? Choosing between two lousy options."

Bergamot-bordered beaches of Nicotera and white olives

Nicotera, a small town where tourism has not yet taken hold, has a charming historic center built on stone terraces, and below it, its extensive white beaches. The fertile plains towards Reggio are filled with kiwis, cactus fruits, clementines, and oranges. Wander in the late autumn through the ancient gardens of Calabrian churches or some abandoned farmland, and you might encounter a unique olive, the Oliva della Madonna, which changes from green to white. They look like trees adorned with white pearls. A mysterious fruit about which you can read much more on this website  a nice story by Elena Valeriote.

Scilla

Scilla, also called the small Venice

Scilla, pronounced as "shilla," harbors an intriguing legend that local guides love to share. A statue of Scilla welcomes visitors in San Rocco Square, offering a stunning view of the castle and the beaches. The town is famous for its fresh swordfish from the Strait of Messina. 'Medusa', a popular spot, serves their specialty - the spada sandwich, a local street snack. The coastline of Scilla, known as La Costa Viola, owes its name to the violet light that colors the bay and attracts swordfish. The town has ancient origins dating back to the time of the Trojan Wars. It is interwoven with myths and legends, including those of Odysseus, Scylla, and Charybdis.

Scilla

What to See in Scilla

  • The Castle of Scilla (Ruffo Castle): This fortress, built by the Dukes of Calabria, overlooks the beach. It is an important historical monument in Scilla and offers breathtaking views of the surroundings.
  • Marina di Scilla: This is the beach area of Scilla, populated by tourists and characterized by hotels and restaurants. The beach is known as the first place north of Reggio Calabria where the water is not cooled by the currents of the Strait of Messina.
  • Chianalea District: Recognized as one of Italy's most beautiful small historic towns, the coastal district of Chianalea in Scilla is a picturesque area with houses built directly on the waterfront.
  • Scilla Lighthouse: Located on a terrace overlooking the sea, this lighthouse is a necessary aid for ships entering the Strait of Messina from the north. Legend of Scylla: The town is associated with the mythical figure Scylla, a sea monster from Greek mythology. A statue of Scylla can be found in San Rocco Square, offering a fantastic view over the castle and beaches.
  • Local Cuisine: Scilla is known for its fresh swordfish, caught in the Strait of Messina. When in Scilla, you must try the local specialty, the spada sandwich.
  • La Costa Viola: This area owes its name to the violet light that envelops the bay and attracts the swordfish.
  • Views of Sicily and Stromboli: On clear days, you can see the island of Sicily from Scilla. Additionally, the island of Stromboli is also visible at dusk. 
Basilia Cattedrale di Maria Santissima Assunta in Cielo

Dining in Scilia - a few suggestions

Medusa Novel Food - Scilla-Via largo San Nicola 11, 89058 Scilla RC- (closes 23.30)
Nautilus - Taverna del Borgo Scilia - Via Annunziata, 39, 89058 Scilla RC - Tel. +39 0965-884834
La Fiocina Scilia - Via Annunziata, 121, 89058 Scilla RC - Tel. +39 0965754512
Ristorante Glauco - Terrazza sul Mare - Via Annunziata, 95, 89058 Scilla RC - Tel. +39 0965-754026

Reggio Calabria

Reggio Calabria, what a nice surprise! I had my doubts about it, really. Thinking: 'Reggio, that sounds like a transfer station, a place where you lose your suitcase and get your white sneakers mussed up.' However it was a delightful surprise and that doesn't happen to me too often anymore. The city is large and there is so much I couldn't see, I assume you'd have to put 800K inhabitants somewhere and I probably only saw 1%. However let's stick to the important bits for now. 

The precious bronze Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia

The three streets of the 'historic' centre I did see, are all very beautiful and neatly kept, all stately buildings rebuilt in Liberty style after the earthquake of 1908. The devastating Messina earthquake of 1908, with a magnitude of 7.1, hit Sicily and Calabria causing the death of 75,000 to 82,000 people. It remains the most devastating earthquake in Europe.

My main reason for visiting was to see the Riace bronzes in the Archaeological Museum. This three-story museum is a marvel. To view the bronzes, visitors must pass through a controlled air chamber designed to protect them. Discovered in 1972 near Riace, these two life-sized Greek bronze statues of bearded warriors from the 5th century BC are famous for their exceptionally good condition and the craftsmanship with which they were made.

National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, Piazza Giuseppe De Nava, 26, 89123 Reggio Calabria RC - https://www.museoarcheologicoreggiocalabria.it/

But there's more to see in Reggio. Everywhere you look, modern art. As if someone thought: 'You know what this city needs? A giant modern statue! Just because, giant modern statues are great.' Nice cafes and shops, well, not exactly the level of Harrods, but pleasant enough to stroll past and do some window shopping on the Corso Garibaldi, where you can rest your feet and enjoy an espresso at one of the grand cafés. There's also a beautiful modern art museum in Reggio Calabria , which I happen to have missed.

The city is actually quite green, a contrast with the ocean blue of the Straits of Messina. The 'beloved' neighbor Sicily sits there on the other side just a sideglance away, a constant reminder to Calabrians that yes, they are still there. On very clear days, it's possible to see Mount Etna and there are some splendid viewpoints at hotels and restaurants, you just have to find the right one, preferably located on the south side of the promenade near the large Aragonese castle. 

Park aan de Lungomare met  Australisch vijgenbomen

The Lungomare Falcomatà stretches from the Archaeological Museum all the way to the train station, where you catch the high-speed train to Rome. The high-speed railway is neatly tucked away under the Lungomare (waterfront), above which lies a park with eccentric art installations and sculptures among the immense Australian fig trees that seem a bit out of control. Before you know it, they'll take over the entire boulevard and spread over to Sicily. But hey, a little adventure never hurt anyone, right?

What to see in Reggio Calabria?

  • Riace Bronze Statues: The city is known for its ancient Greek art and architecture, especially the Riace Bronzes, which are two life-sized Greek bronzes of bearded warriors. These statues can be found in the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria.
  • Archaeological Sites: Reggio Calabria has a rich history that dates back to antiquity. The city was founded by the ancient Greeks in the 8th century BC. As a result, there are numerous archaeological sites and ruins for tourists to explore.
  • Cathedral: The city's cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mary, is an architectural marvel and an important religious site.
  • Lungomare Falcomatà: This is a beautiful waterfront boulevard offering stunning views of the Strait of Messina and the coast of Sicily. It's a popular spot for both locals and tourists to take a leisurely stroll.
  • Castello Aragonese: This historic castle, situated on a hilltop, provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding sea. It is a testament to the city's medieval history.
  • Natural Beauty: The city is surrounded by Aspromonte National Park, offering numerous hiking trails and natural attractions. The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna and offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  • Cuisine: Reggio Calabria offers a rich culinary tradition, with a focus on fresh seafood, local produce, and traditional Calabrian dishes. Tourists can enjoy delicious meals in local restaurants and trattorias.
  • Cultural Events: The city hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating its rich history, traditions, and arts.
Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia

How to Get to Reggio Calabria?

If you're a tourist looking to travel to Reggio Calabria, here are some ways to get there, the city is very easy to combine with a tour of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands, the Amalfi Coast, Naples, and even Rome:

  1. Airplane: Reggio Calabria has its own airport, named "Aeroporto dello Stretto" or "Reggio Calabria Airport". It is connected to several major Italian cities and a few international destinations.

  2. Train: The city has a train station that is connected to other major cities in Italy with the Frecciarossa. The train journey offers scenic views of the Calabrian coastline and landscape. Rome is about 4-5 hours away, and this train also stops in Naples. 

  3. Ferry: Being on the coast and near Messina, of course, there is also a ferry connection available. You can take a ferry to/from Sicily and other nearby islands.

In the Province of Reggio Calabria

The province of Reggio Calabria has countless treasures of villages and a museum that you definitely should not miss, and on the way there, you will have to stop time and again to take yet another photo. I'll just mention a few, no doubt others will blame me for what I've missed.

MUSABA

MUSABA Open Air Museum

Just 10 km inland from the sparkling blue waters of the Ionian Sea lies one of the most unique "museums" in all of Italy - the Santa Barbara Archaeological Environmental Park (or as it's called in Italian: MUSABA). An extraordinary open-air museum near Reggio Calabria. Founded by visionary artist Nik Spatari and his partner Hiske Maas, MUSABA is a living canvas where monumental sculptures and shimmering mosaics blend with the lush green of the Calabrian landscape. Walk the ancient paths, discover the secrets that lie behind every turn, and feel the inspiration that rises from every stone and tree. Whether you're an art lover or not, MUSABA offers an unforgettable journey full of surprises.

Badolato 

Perched on a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea, Badolato, with its timeworn houses, ancient churches, and captivating landscape, is a medieval village that exudes an almost magical charm.

Pentedattilo

Perched on the cliff of Mount Calvario stands Pentedattilo, a mysterious and fascinating village, a hamlet of Melito di Porto Salvo. The ancient village, which until recently was considered the most evocative ghost town in Calabria, has now been revitalized by new commercial and tourist activities. A beautiful village with incredible legends.

Pentedattilo in Reggio Calabria

Siderno

Located in the heart of Locride, between Roccella and Locri, Siderno is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the Reggio Calabria province. But that's not all, it's also a charming medieval village that overlooks the sea from its 192 m height. Siderno has a center characterized by narrow streets and very old houses, including noble houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, adorned with special barrel-shaped balconies and still intact stone portals. What you should not miss is the parish church, with numerous works by local artists, and the natural beauty surrounding the town.

Siderno in Reggio Calabria

Stilo in Reggio Calabria

The village of Stilo, nestled in the green valleys of Stilaro and Allaro and protected by Monte Cozzolino, still smells of the jasmine that gives its name to the coast below, where patient hands used to gather the blossems on summer evenings to create precious perfumes.

Listed in the network of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Stilo boasts a rich and varied territory, stretching from the green nurseries of Mount Cozzolino to the golden beaches and crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea. Stilo is a village that has stood the test of time, preserving its medieval architectural charm. It's nestled in a verdant forest that offers an enchanting experience, where one might glimpse elusive wild cats and the intriguing Sila wolves. This magical setting enhances the village's unique attractions, including the beautiful Cattolica church and its overall layout, which collectively form an exquisite open-air artwork.

Stilo offers a captivating view of its surroundings, with ancient buildings featuring traditional 'giaramidi' roof tiles and historic village redbrick churches. The walk from the centre over the terraces leads to the impressive belvedere of the Cattolica, which provides a clear view over old rooftops and the surrounding woods.

Stilo in Reggio Calabria

Dining in Reggio Calabria - My personal suggestions

L'A Gourmet L'Accademia - Via Largo Cristoforo Colombo, 9, 89125 Reggio di Calabria RC - Tel. +39 0965 312968
Aqua Drink-Restaurant- Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 23-89124 Reggio Calabria RC- Tel. +39 0965 197 2571
Officina del Gusto - Via Placido Geraci 17 Reggio Calabria RC - Tel. +39 0965-3328-30
Trattoria del Pesce - Via Fratelli Cairoli 7 Reggio Calabria - Tel. 0965 890420
Le Rose al Bicchiere - Via Demetrio Tripepi, 118, 89125 Reggio di Calabria RC Tel. +39 0965 22956
Taverna Kerkira - corso Vittorio Emanuele 217, Bagnara Calabra (RC) - Tel. +39 0966 372260
A Casa sa Zio Pasqui - Via Risorgimento 294, km 969.28 Campo Calabro (RC) - Tel. +39 0965 840842

Staying in Reggio Calabria

Grand Hotel Excelsior - Via Vittorio Veneto 6, Reggio Calabria - This exquisite accommodation near the Lungomare offers tastefully decorated rooms, enchanting sea views, and a captivating rooftop terrace restaurant for an unparalleled dining experience. - Rates and Rooms
E hotel - Via Giunchi 6, Reggio Calabria - With a refined black-and-white color scheme, this beautifully designed modern hotel offers 52 carefully decorated rooms that evoke an atmosphere of refined elegance. - Rates and Rooms
Hotel Palace Masoanri's - Via Vittorio Veneto 95, Reggio Calabria - This historic hotel, conveniently located just a stone's throw from the famous Archaeological Museum, offers an unforgettable experience with its charming decor, luxurious amenities, and breathtaking views. - Rates and Rooms
Bed & Breakfast degli Ottimati - via degli Ottimati 10, Reggio Calabria - Located just a few minutes from the famous Duomo and majestic castle, this charming accommodation offers beautifully decorated rooms for a blissful stay. - Rates and Rooms
Bed & Breakfast Civico - Via Nicola Piza 64, Palmi (RC) - This charming accommodation in the heart of the historic center offers carefully designed rooms and a convenient location near a lively square to explore the rich cultural heritage of the city. - Website: https://www.bbcivico4.it - Rates and Rooms
Hotel Palma D'Oro - Lungomare Turati 17, Bagnara Calabra (RG) - With its excellent location near the beach and stunning sea views, this exquisite restaurant is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy a dining experience with breathtaking aesthetics. - Website: https://www.hotelpalamadoro.it -
Il Principe di Scilla - Via Grotte 2, Chianalea, Scilla (RC) - This regal and refined seaside restaurant, nestled in a majestic noble residence from the 5th century, offers a captivating mix of ancient charm, contemporary elegance, and breathtaking panoramic views of the azure waters, creating an unforgettable dining experience with exquisite flavors and innovative gastronomy created by talented chefs. - Rates and Rooms

More suggestions in Calabria

The secrets of Crotone on the Ionian Coast of Calabria

Sila National Park, getting lost among the giants

Tropea and the Costa degli Dei, southernly beaches in Calabria

A.P.T. Azienda di Promozione Turistica

: Information Via Roma 3 89029   Reggio Calabria RC   Calabria
Website: Regio Calabria

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