Reggio Calabria — A treasure waiting to be discovered

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Reggio Calabria seafront courtesy of the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria.Photo by Santo Federico
Reggio Calabria seafront courtesy of the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria.Photo by Santo Federico

Taking a trip here will transport you to an astounding terrain, featuring 1,000-year-old cultural, traditional, and landscape particularities

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Published: Mon 25 Apr 2022, 2:27 PM

Travelling in the metropolitan area of Reggio Calabria is like immersing yourself in the heart of the Mediterranean, which has always been at the crossroads of people and culture. It is an experience unlike any, with many nuances, allowing one to live in contact with nature and discovering the many cultural resources and traditions of the region. The area includes 97 municipalities, with villages of great historical interest — a testimony to the splendour of Magna Graecia — and includes places of myths and legends as well as ancient rites and traditions.

Reggio Calabria, is situated at the extreme edge of Italy, which represents the boot’s tip. It is a mountainous region, caressed by the sea on three sides. The massif, which literally means ‘rough mountain’, dominates the territory, guarding the large forests and watercourses that fall into the valley with suggestive waterfalls that disappear in the riverbeds, like silver ribbons that reach the sea.

Gambarie d'Apromonte. Photo by Domenico Costantino
Gambarie d'Apromonte. Photo by Domenico Costantino

With its colours and charming lights, there is much more to Reggio Calabria than just miles and miles of beautiful beaches and splendid sea beds. It is also a territory that offers the opportunity of skiing while admiring the Strait of Messina, with Etna and the Aeolian Islands in the background. For those who prefer a laid-back life as well as adrenaline junkies, there are plenty of both slow and excitinge experiences like donkey trekking in the Aspromonte, or diving and kite-surfing in the Strait waters.

Village of Pentedattilo. Photo by eborghi
Village of Pentedattilo. Photo by eborghi

Halfway between the Aspromonte and the Ionian coast, the area seems to be suspended in time. The captivating Grecanica area, with its charming villages — some of them now uninhabited — speak of the thousand-year history of the place. The Amendolea river divides the territory into two large areas. The river was once navigable from the sea to the mountains, bordered by a network of ancient paths that are now trodden by trekking lovers, who can enjoy the pristine natural scenery and millenary culture, rich in history.

The ‘capital’ of Grecanic Calabria is Bova. In Bova, as in the other villages — Bovesia, Pentedattilo, Staiti, Roghudi, Gallicianò, just to name a few — the most precious heritage to preserve is the Greek of Calabria, a koine or language, unique in the world: the Grecanico.

Within the Grecanic area, there is the natural oasis of the Pantano di Saline. A unique place, included by the European Union among the ‘Sites of Community Interest’ due to its importance as a natural habitat that guarantees the maintenance of biodiversity. The lakes of the oasis are a resting place for a wide biodiversity of birds including coots, ducks, and grey herons. The area is also famous for the ‘butteri’, the horsemen of Italy. It is also not uncommon to see pink flamingos in the area.

A territory that in its history, has met the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Normans, with all of them leaving evident traces of their passage that now constitute the material and immaterial heritage of rare wealth. Here, it is possible to rediscover the testimonies of the ancient region, of Locri Epizephiri, Kaulon, Medma, and Taureanum. The whole area is characterised by the presence of sighting towers and fortified buildings to protect the population from invasions from the sea. Among the many, towards the Strait of Messina, is the Ruffo di Calabria Castle, which dominates the bay of Scilla, overlooking the ancient fishing village of Chianalea, where the tradition of swordfish fishing is still alive aboard the typical boats called gangways.

Further along the Ionian coast, we find the Borgo di Gerace, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, which holds a medieval heart to be discovered. It is also known as a ‘sacred city’, due to the many churches, convents, and monasteries enclosed in such a small centre.

Not far away from Gerace, stands the ancient village of Stilo, which offers breath-taking views and houses the Cathedral, of medieval origin— an example of baroque style — and one of the most important examples of Byzantine architecture, the Cattolica di Stilo. Continuing the path along the coastal road, between Reggio and Locri, we discover the splendid site of the Roman Villa Casignana, built in the first century AD and flowered in the fourth century AD. On account of the richness of its materials, architecture, and decorative elements like the mosaic floors, it is believed that the villa belonged to a very important Patrician family.

Bronzi di Riace. Photo by eborghi
Bronzi di Riace. Photo by eborghi

Visiting this incredible land also means having the opportunity of admiring one of the most significant examples of classical Greek art: the Bronzi di Riace. These precious statues, found on the bottom of the Ionian Sea in 1972, are now kept at the Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria.

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