Italy has a hidden secret rich in history, panoramic views and natural beauty. This secret is Calabria. Yet to be discovered by many. Once you see what it has to offer, you will not want to leave.
Scilla is the jewel of Italy and a place of legend and beauty
When I saw this picturesque village for the first time, I was absolutely spellbound by its natural beauty, colours and deep blue sea. It is located close to Reggio Calabria in Italy. I could not wait to explore this delight. I was full of joy when walking around and discovering its narrow streets and little houses with window boxes and walls displaying the most beautiful flowers of Calabria. The houses all seemed to be standing next to each other in pretty rows and high above the cliffs. I then headed down to the seafront and onto the most beautiful beach. I was mesmerised by the wonderful panoramic view of Ruffo Castle, one of the most beautiful views in Italy.
Chianalea and its typical restaurants on stilts
I recommend visiting Chianalea. You need to follow the promenade towards Ruffo castle where you will see a covered walkway. Beyond the rock where the Ruffo castle proudly sits, you will see many colourful fishing boats moored and a very narrow road will take you to a panoramic area where you can catch glimpses of the sea alongside the many characteristic restaurants in this street. Here it is worth stopping for lunch to taste the local speciality sword fish and admire the view or have dinner with the most incredible purple sunset. Most of the restaurants are built on stilts and overlook the sea where according to legend, Ulysses managed to escape the deadly sea creatures Scylla and Charybdis.
Palmi and its amazing sunsets
Palmi is not so far from Scilla. It is also located on the viola coast (purple coast) which is renowned for its incredible sunsets. I decided to go early evening so I could experience this spectacle. The centre is very pretty but what really caught my eye was the public park. It was so well kept, the meeting point for the locals in the evening. What I did not expect was for the park to lead me to a wonderful panoramic viewpoint where I could see almost the whole of the viola coast. I waited patiently to view this sunset which so many locals recommended me to do. I was overwhelmed by the colours in the sky as the sun started to set. Shades of yellow then orange and at last those eagerly-awaited hues of purple.
The famous rock of Pietragrande
Pietragrande is located near Catanzaro lido and Soverato on the “costa degli aranci” (coast of the oranges) in Italy. There is a rock jutting out of the water, hence the name of the little town surrounding it. To reach the seafront, you can start from the top of the town just off the motorway and just like a spiral staircase, the road takes you down to the beach passing many beautiful villas clinging to the cliffs overlooking the sea with the panoramic rock in view. It is a great place to swim. I watched the locals swim to this rock and how they would clamber to the top and dive into that wonderful transparent sea. I also decided to have a go and had great fun. If you are daring and want thrills, this rock will not disappoint.
Just around the corner from the rock lies one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. It is picture postcard and I definitely recommend swimming in this wonderful sea. The panoramic views will steal your heart. If you decide to visit from above the town, there is a little red tourist bus which will take you down to the beach otherwise you can reach it from Pietragrande. There are a few restaurants on the beach where you can get a snack or lunch.
Roccella Ionica and the Carafa Palace
Roccella Ionica. You are probably wondering, “where is Roccella Ionica”? It is located on the “costa dei Gelsomini” (the coast of Jasmine) close to Riace in Italy and home of the bronze statues of Riace. They are now housed in the National Museum in Reggio Calabria in Italy. You can smell jasmine growing everywhere along this pretty coast.
Walking up to the Carafa palace in Roccella Ionica
There is a nice walk from the main square of Roccella where you will see a palm-lined promenade. Just across from the pretty square, the walk leads you up to the magnificent Carafa Palace which was owned by the noble family Carafa in the fifteenth century. Once you get to the top of the road you will be rewarded with views covering almost the whole of the Jasmine coast. It is open to the public. If you feel tired and do not feel like walking up, there is a regular tourist train in the summer which leaves from the main square.
Cycling to Caulonia Marina from Roccella Ionica
There is a nice cycle path along the seafront of Roccella which I often take to reach the town of Caulonia Marina. It is famous for its Saracen tower which sits on the highest point of the town. 72 towers were built along the coast to defend the people from the pirates in the fifteenth century. Today, it is a pretty seaside resort with beautiful beaches and sea. A visit to Caulonia Superiore is worth visiting as this is the historic town with 13 churches. Life revolves around the square of this medieval town where festivities take place including the summer festival “Tarantella”. The town comes alive with people singing, eating and dancing to typical Calabrian music. There are only 3000 inhabitants who live here. The town doubles its population in summer as relatives and friends come to visit this little gem. At the entrance of the town, there is a panoramic view overlooking Caulonia Marina.