Welcome to Calabria
“Travelling in Calabria means retracing one’s steps a great number of times like following the unpredictable path of a labyrinth. “ (Guido Piovene, Viaggio in Italia, 1957).
Calabria is a unique land of strong contrasts and unusual scenery thanks to its ancient history in which Mediterranean and European civilizations are so deeply rooted. Its artistic heritage stands amongst the richest in Italy thanks to its buildings, churches, castles, archaeological areas, precious sculptures and paintings from every school and age. Among these are the world- famous bronze statues of Riace, the archaeological digs of Locri and Sibari, the delightful Cattolica di Stilo, the best-known Byzantine monument in the region.
Calabria is the area that gave its name to the entire Italian peninsula. “Italia” was in fact the name that was first given to Calabria in honor of its king Italo. The great beauty of nature is amazing. It is a land where the sea and the mountains live side by side: almost 800 km of coastline lined with beautiful beaches and clear-blue sea and suggestive wilder mountainous areas. The artistic heritage of the region is closely bound to a strong handcraft tradition: wood-carving, pottery, goldsmiths, weavers, wrought iron and stonework.
The summary would not be complete without mentioning its genuine and imaginative cuisine. Calabrian food is plain but with a strong flavor. Pasta with traditional sauces made with pork, beef, lamb or goat's meat; onions and chili pepper; salami and sausages; swordfish and stockfish and also precious wines with a thousand years of history behind them. Numerous are also the traditional products fairs, such as the mushrooms, the chestnut, the harvest and the grape-picking festivals.
The “Green Coast”
The Costa Verde is the stretch of coast along the Tyrrhenian sea, from Ioppolo to Palmi, where the coastline is characterized by a delightful scenery and a strong and uncorrupted nature. The beauty of this part of Calabria is all in its long beaches of white sand, in its mild climate, in its plains dotted with citrus orchards, orange and centuries-old olive groves, in is charming forests of pines, eucalyptus and mimosas that offers refreshing and relaxing walks.
The town of Nicotera with its ancient history is the centre of the Costa Verde. From here people can easily reach many important historical sites of Calabria and Sicily and above all the Aeolian Islands that stand just in front of the coast. You can see them, especially the volcano Stromboli, in the fascinating sunsets every evening.
Sport, Nature, Holidays, Culture and Gastronomy. The Costa Verde offers all this and more. A place where the holiday has thousands of meanings and thousands of flavors, where each day is different from the other, where people and above all children can enjoy their holiday in the nature. You will leave Nicotera keeping in your heart the colors and the scent of this unique land.
1. From Nicotera northwards along the coast
The old town of Nicotera is situated on a panoramic position dominating the plain and with the Aeolian Island and the Etna just in front of it. The town was the “Emporion” (port) of the Magna Graecia colony of Medma. Abandoned by its inhabitants in the ninth century AD owing to the Saracen incursions, it was later rebuilt by Roberto il Guiscardo, who fortified it. The town was then invaded and destructed again by the Angevins, the Barbarians and the Turks. The historic centre is especially charming and culminated in the Castle of the Ruffo family where the archaeological museum is housed at present. To visit in Nicotera: The Cathedral that contains a beautiful renaissance wooden crucifix and the bishop’s palace where a museum of sacred art has been created.
Tropea has very ancient origins and it has one of the prettiest and best-preserved historic centers in the region. The fascinating church of Santa Maria dell'Isola, that stands on a small finger of land projecting into the sea, represent the precious historic patrimony of Tropea.
This ancient and picturesque fishing village set on a steep slope on the sea was the feud of noble families as the Sanseverino and the Ruffo. It was the theatre of the capture and the shooting of Gioacchino Murat. Now, take a little pause and taste the delicious Tartufo ice cream of Pizzo.
2. From Nicotera towards Monte Poro and the Serre Highland
Mileto was an important military, cultural and religious centre during the Norman. Its important Museum offers many important remains from the Roman and the Norman age as the sarcophagus of Eremburga (1089).
Serra San Bruno
The lovely mountain village of Serra San Bruno was founded at the end of the eleventh century around the Priory founded by Bruno of Cologne. The Carthusian monastery is the main destination for visitors, it stands in a wood full of mystical beauty on the edge of the town.
3. From Nicotera towards the Ionian Coast, coming back through Aspromonte.
Gerace is one of the world's most impressive medieval towns still inhabited today, and it is certainly the jewel of Calabria. Its Cathedral (10th century) is the largest church in the region. The town stands on a flat, cone-shaped hill of tuff which the local potters excavated to build their workshops.
The Cattolica of Stilo is one of the most famous and best preserved Byzantine churches in the region. The external structure is decorated with the ingenious layering of differently hued bricks. Inside you can see the remains of precious Byzantine frescoes.
The beautiful and impenetrable forests of Aspromonte with its lush vegetation are part of the Calabrian National Park. Below the mountains are the plains dotted with citrus orchards and centuries-old olive groves.
4. From Nicotera to southwards
Bagnara Calabra rises on a wide, crescent-shaped bay on the enchanting Costa Viola, on the extreme slopes of the Aspromonte the old medieval town is charming with houses clinging to the rock and fine noblemen's houses and typical arches. Bagnara is an active fishing centre, famous for its swordfish.
The coastal resort of Scilla on the Costa Viola, together with the delightful neighborhood of Chianalea, is the most picturesque fishing village of Calabria. Here you can see the enormous and characteristic boats used to catch swordfish. To visit in Scilla: the Ruffo castle and the church of Spirito Santo and its masterpieces.
Founded in the VIII century BC, Reggio became an important colony of the Magna Graecia. Along the promenade, defined by Gabriele D’Annunzio as “the most beautiful kilometer in Italy”, it is still possible to admire the remains of the ancient Roman baths, the Greek walls together with many different varieties of trees which are of great naturalistic interest. Reggio is now known all over the world for its Magna Graecia Museum which contains the two famous Riace Bronzes.
This little picturesque village abandoned since 1950 seems to be a hand with five fingers opened towards the sky. In 1680 almost all the members of the family of Alberti, Marquis of Pentidattilo, were massacred in the castle for the sake of a woman's love. There are the castle ruins and many old houses and narrow lanes, full of fascinating views.
The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands is situated just in front of the Costa Verde. It belongs to the province of Messina (Sicily) and is made up of seven small fascinating volcanic islands: Alicudi, Filicudi, Lipari, Panarea, Salina, Stromboli and Vulcano. The Aeolian Island can be reached easily from Tropea by boat.