THE TOWN OF PYTHAGORAS
In front of the castle of Carlo V, built in 1541, among the towers that mark the old town centre, there is a relatively large quarter with an old courtyard where children play. Next to them some women do crochet work, testimony to an ancient tradition. It gets dark late here but under the clear sky and bright sunlight it is possible to savour a distinct sense of history. This is Crotone, gateway to Magna Graecia .
Founded in 709 BC by Miscello di Ripe, it reached its highpoint in the 6th century B.C., when the town became a reference point for culture, philosophy, mathematics, medicine and athletics, thanks to mythical characters like Pythagoras, Alcmene and Milo. Evidence of its illustrious past continue to emerge. One such example is the precious golden diadem of Hera, now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum. However, the ancient city, which in the classical age stretched a further 18 kilometres, according to Tito Livio, is now buried, the site of the castle of Carlo V represented the acropolis.
A town suspended between the ancient and modern, on one side the industrial and commercial area and on the other evidence of another history, one to be discovered: baronial palazzi and churches, relics from different ages to be found in the museum, Greek and Roman remains and the sacred atmosphere of Capo Colonna, where once stood one of the most ancient temples of Hera, mother of the Gods. A mythical, timeless place, in which Christianity replaced paganism, symbolised by the Byzantine icon of the Madonna, venerated by the people of Crotone, which in the month of May heads a procession.
With its own special identity, Crotone is certainly worth exploring. It is a town to live, wandering through its narrow streets, breathing in its aromas, watching its people, as great travellers have done in the past, such as François Lenormant, George Gissing, Norman Douglas, all leaving profound portraits of a people, friendly towards outsiders with a natural hospitality and good-natured disposition.
Praia Longa — Crotone 30 km — 18 miles
journey 60 km – 36 miles
N 39° 4’ 50.856’’ – E 17° 07’ 37.596’’
Exit in a northerly direction on the SS106 road, proceed towards Crotone to destination
Average travel time 25’
With a total area of 15,000 sea hectares the Marine Reserve of “Capo Rizzuto” is one of the most extensive in Europe, a corner of the Mediterranean to protect and preserve. A crystal clear sea combines with a varied seabed, an extraordinary environment and powerful magnet which attracts life of every shape and colour, a genuine paradise for deep-sea divers! The Reserve is also an authentic Deep-Sea Archaeological Museum, custodian to centuries of history of the people who have lived along this coastline looking out to Greece …
For sea lovers who prefer not to engage in deep-sea diving there is the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular natural scenery provided by the seabed and landscapes in this corner of the Ionian while remaining comfortably dry on board special glass-bottomed boats, or by sailing boat discovering the precious testimony to be found along this stretch of coast.
From the remains of the vice regal defence system made up of the coastal warning towers (Torre Vecchia and Torre Nuova) built in the 15th century to the marine town of Le Castella, with its Aragonese Castle, one of the most characteristic in Italy due to its unique location, set on a small island connected to the coast by a narrow stretch of land. Built in the second half of the 13th century on the original 4th century B.C. Greek fortification system, of which there still remains today the so-called “muro greco” (Greek wall) to the south of the castle, it is a solemn and imposing, austere stone sentinel in a timeless dialogue with its surroundings.
Praia Longa — Le Castella 6,7 km — 4,3 miles
Total distance km 13 — 8,5 miles
N 38° 54’ 32.898’’ – E 17° 01’ 22.977’’
Exit northbound on the SS106 road, proceed towards Le Castella to destination
Average travel time 10’
A JOURNEY INTO THE MEDIEVAL AGE
The ancient Enotrian town of Siberene was an important Byzantine centre until the Norman conquest in the 11th century. The town overlooks the Neto valley from the top of a tufa hill and on certain days, when the valley is covered in mist, it takes on the appearance of an enormous stone ship. A ship in the vast ocean of history that has crossed the centuries to bring us its precious cargo of historical testimony, the monuments and archaeology collected by the people who in the arch of two thousand years have lived here: from the Brutti to the Greek Italians, from the Byzantines to the Arabs and Normans, up until the Houses of Aragon and Castile.
The most evident testimony of Santa Severina’s Byzantine past is the Baptistery, built between the 8th and 9th centuries, following a circular plan with a Greek cross inserted and a cupola sustained by eight columns, it is the oldest Byzantine monument in Calabria. The Old Cathedral, today the Addolorata church, dates back to the Pre-Norman Age, built on the ancient remains of the bishop’s residence and consecrated in 1036. The church of Santa Filomena, built in the 11th century. The cathedral, built between 1274 and 1295, by Ruggero di Stefanunzia, is dedicated to Santa Anastasia, the town’s patron saint.
The majestic and imposing Carafa Castle was built in 1076 by the Normans on the remains of Byzantine fortifications. Due to its size it dominates the town and the surrounding countryside, an impressive symbol of a military history immortalised in stone and its unique charm as a fairytale theatre of princes and knights. Enclosed by imposing battlemented walls and surrounded on three of its sides by ditches, the castle is home to an intricate labyrinth of underground tunnels, reception rooms magnificently decorated with stucco and Baroque painting, commissioned by Francesco Giordano and stables with the remains of Medieval frescoes.
And finally, to add to the cultural and artistic attractions of Santa Severina there is the Diocesan Museum, situated in the archbishop’s palace, which contains precious, stonework (columns), silver and the relics of Santa Anastasia.
Praia Longa – Santa Severina 35 Km — 21 miles
Total distance 70 km — 43 miles
N 39 ° 8 ’52 103” – E 16 ° 54′ 57 103”
Proceed in a southerly direction on the SS106 road, take the SS109 road and continue towards Cutro and Scandale, take the SP25 road to the destination.
Average travel time 35’
In Sila Piccola, in the surroundings of Sersale and the other neighbouring mountain villages, marvellous and incomparable geologic monuments rise up, the canyons of Valli Cupe, that represent genuine natural jewels, with hundreds of spectacular waterfalls reaching up to 100m and immersed in a setting of lush subtropical vegetation. The canyons which hide unexpected treasures of biodiversity, breathtaking views over gorges and precipices with sheer drops of hundreds of metres, monumental trees and a wealth of precious flora and fauna, deserve a prominent place in the ranks of the natural beauties of the Italian peninsula.
Here you can enjoy the unique experience of swimming in clear and unspoiled waters, supplied by fast-flowing streams that descend through the mountains, creating beautiful waterfalls, such as the “Cascata Campanaro” easy to reach, about 22 metres high, immersed in a natural paradise enriched by the presence of rare plants; the “Cascata della Rupe”, a spectacular waterfall carved into granite rock, home to two very rare tropical ferns.
Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience in Valli Cupe thanks to the numerous activities carried out by associations operating in the territory: from guided tours to river bathing in the waterfalls, from trekking on donkey or horseback along country tracks to specialized courses for dedicated nature lovers.
Finally, the ethno-naturalistic museums are well-worth visiting, the Etnofauna Museum and the Museum of Ethnobotany, both divided into 5 exhibition rooms. In the first, different ecosystems (rivers, agricultural and forestry) are re-created with natural materials, in which various animals live (insects, mollusks, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, etc.); the second houses a herbarium with over 2000 samples, a corner dedicated to perfumes and aromatic herbs and a small collection of rare dried plants including real living fossils.
Praia Longa — Sersale 33,8 km – 21 miles
Total distance 67,6 km – 42 miles
N 39° 0’ 36.409’’ – E 16° 43’ 43.259’’
Exit going South on SS106 road, proceed towards Catanzaro Lido, arrived in Cropani Marian take the SS180 roas and continue towards Cropani, Sersale to your destination
Average travel time 35’
THE GREAT WOOD OF ITALY
In the National Park of Sila nature becomes the main player in an itinerary where hills and mountains compete, and vegetation makes room for the oak, beech, fir and pine trees. Here, it is easy to be attracted to the gentle mystery of the woods, which stretch as far as the eye can see, coloured as if in a fairytale. A delicate ecosystem to admire, soak up the atmosphere, the perfume, the sounds, a full-immersion in nature.
Nature which can only be discovered through long walks through the forest and little used pathways, where every step reveals small and great natural wonders. One such case is the small but magnificent wood in the Biogenetic Reserve “I Giganti di Fallistro”, made up of around fifty truly enormous pine and maple trees. These “natural giants”, descendants of the first conifer forests that covered Sila, give an idea of how the woods would have looked in the 1800s. Measuring up to 40 metres in height and 2 metres in diameter they have an estimated age of six hundred years. The reserve is protected by the Corpo Forestale dello Stato and it is possible to visit on foot only, following a set track. It is open to the public throughout the week from 8.00am to 6.30pm in the period June to October. To arrive follow directions for Camigliatello Silano. Turn at Croce di Magara and follow on the right for approximately 2 km.
For whatever reason you find yourself in Camigliatello Silano, you cannot miss a visit to the Museo Narrante dell’Emigrazione “La Nave della Sila”, set up inside the Literary Park “Old Calabria”, dedicated to Norman Douglas, in an old restored cowshed, which still preserves the original silos to collect fodder. A “ship among the fields,” evoking the incoherent combination of those lands toiled and sweated over and the ship crossing the ocean with its cargo of stories has become the symbol of the great migration of the 19th and 20th centuries, which involved not only Calabrian people but about 27 million Italians who left the country in those difficult years.
Praia Longa — Camigliatello Silano 93 km – 57 miles
Total distance 186 km -114 miles
N 39° 20’ 23.384’’ – E 16° 26’ 48.041’’
Proceed in a southerly direction on the SS106 road, take the SS109 road and continue towards Cutro and Scandale, take the SS 107 continue until the exit road to the destination.
Average travel time 1h 20’
THE ENCHANTED VILLAGE
You pass through the Borgo Maggiore, then the Borghetto before reaching the upper town, the beautiful Gerace of noble origins. The old town is the ideal setting to take you back to the past, a rare sensation of browsing as if from an illustrated book. The Byzantine centre became a settlement with residential buildings around the 7th and 8th century A.D. and was very important under the Norman domination. Violent earthquakes damaged many of the Byzantine and Norman buildings, but luckily you can still see some of the most striking in the ancient town, rich in churches, monasteries and palazzi.
Walking through the streets of Gerace is the best way to discover the town. Visiting the many Byzantine and Baroque churches of Borgo Maggiore and Borghetto, then reaching on foot, through the narrow streets, the heart of the aristocratic town with its stately palazzi, and at the highest point, the imposing Cathedral.
Known as being the largest church in Calabria, the Cathedral was inaugurated in 1045. Although damaged by the historic earthquake of 1783, it still preserves intact the magnificence and elegance of the structure, important as an example of the merger between Byzantine and Norman culture. Inside the crypt, in the chapel of St. Joseph, the Museum of the Treasury of the Cathedral has been set up to house works created ??between the 12th and 20th centuries, coming from the Cathedral itself and from other churches in the town. Pieces which are particularly worth noting include a reliquary cross in gold foil adorned with pearls and precious stones, dating back to the 12th century and originally from Jerusalem; an 18th century silver pastoral staff; a splendid silver-gilt ostensorium; an 18th century life-size statue of the Virgin Mary in silver.
A mandatory stop before arriving at Gerace is a visit to Stilo, one of the centres of Byzantine culture in Calabria. A place of confluence of Basilian migrations that experienced its greatest splendour in 10th century when the centre housed as many as eighteen churches. A few survive today, including the Cattolica, the main church for the colony of monks of the East who had settled in this territory.
Praia Longa — Gerace 137 km – 85 miles
Total distance 274 km – 170 miles
N 38° 16’ 19.277’’ – E 16° 13’ 18.433’’
Exit South on the SS106, proceed in the direction of Catanzaro Lido, continue along the SS106 towards Soverato, Siderno, Locri, take the SP 1 to destination
Average travel time 2 h 00’
THE CITY OF THE CODEX AND LIQUORICE
With 25 centuries of history and a heritage of unique Byzantine art, Rossano is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful towns in Calabria. An artistic heritage that shows its most characteristic trait in the architecture of innumerable churches, reflecting the great religious role that Rossano held in the 8th and 9th centuries, confirmed by the presence of seven Basilian monasteries. Today, the town is famous for being the custodian of the famous “Codex Purpureus Rossanensis”, the Greek Evangeliary of the 5th and 6th centuries of Middle Eastern origin, preserved in the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art. This code is one of the seven oriental manuscripts existing in the world. Three of them are in the Syriac language and four in Greek. The latter are the “Cotton Genesis” kept in the British Library, London (of which there remains only some small fragments of a single page); the “Wiener Genesis,” kept in the Österreichische National bibliothek of Vienna (consisting of 26 sheets, 24 of which are illuminated); the “Fragment or Code Sinopense“, kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (consisting of 43 sheets and 5 miniatures), and finally the “Codex purpureus Rossanensis,” which with its 188 sheets amounting to 376 pages, is the most complete, valuable and important Code of the above mentioned, and contains the entire Gospel of St. Matthew and almost all of St. Mark.
But of course, it is impossible to think of Rossano without thinking of liquorice, a product that has always been linked to the Amarelli family. It started the processing and marketing of liquorice in 1731, and records its story in the small Museum Amarelli, through objects and documents from the past. Agricultural tools, rudimental machinery for processing liquorice, archival finds and vintage labels, the first steam machinery, the faithful reproduction of an administrative office from which they sent the goods all over the world, the precious “little boxes” that would bring joy to many collectors.
Praia Longa — Rossano Calabro km 119 — 73 miles
Total distance km 238 – 146 miles
N 39° 34’ 34.791’’ – E 16° 38’ 3.437’’
Exit northbound on the SS106 road, proceed towards Crotone, at the roundabout take the first exit and continue on the SS106 road towards Taranto to your destination.
Average travel time 1 h 30’
When the great research and excavation work began in the northeastern area of Calabria, during the years 1969 to 1975, between the Sibari river and the Crati river, hidden among the weeds and the earth it was not only the ruins of Sybaris which came to the light, but also those of two other ancient cities.
There had always been much talk in ancient chronicles about the rich and luxurious city of Sybaris, founded by the Greeks in 720 B.C., and the fact that “sybarite” had become synonymous with “viveur” only served to confirm the myth of this opulent city. Its discovery, therefore, represented a turning point in Ancient Greek studies. The significance of the finding, in itself important, was soon increased by the discovery of ceramics and the remains of walls superimposed over those assigned to Sybaris: on the same site, in fact, Thurii, the Panhellenic colony was built by Pericles to bring the area back to its former glory after the disastrous defeat against Crotone. Even Thurii, however, fell into disgrace and on the same territory, the Romans formed a colony in 194 B.C., called Copia, again with the intention of restoring the area to its ancient glories: copia, in fact, in Latin means “abundance.”
The road signs along the highway 106 do not greatly help, but once you find the “brown”, places of interest sign to the archaeological park it is as if you have taken a thousand steps back in time, visiting the vast area divided into sectors, each of them identified with the name of the excavation site: Parco del Cavallo, Prolungamento Strada, Casabianca, Stombi.
Finally, it is worth visiting the Museum of the Sibaritide, which opened in 1996. It exhibits not only interesting Greek and Roman relics (pottery, gold foils, sculptures and terracotta decorations), but also materials recovered from indigenous tombs dating back to the Iron Age, and artifacts of Greek, Phoenician and Egyptian origin testifying to the intense maritime traffic of that period. The Museum is open daily from 9.00 to 19.30, except Mondays.
Praia Longa — Sibari 139 km – 86 miles
Total distance 278 km – 172 miles
N 39° 44’ 52.27’’ – E 16° 27’ 11.591’’
Exit northbound on the SS106 road, proceed towards Crotone, at the roundabout take the first exit and continue on the SS106 road towards Taranto to your destination.
Average travel time 1 h 45’
THE CITY OF THE RIACE BRONZES
The ancient city of Reggio (Rhegion), founded by Greek colonists from Chalcis in the second half of the 8th century B.C., was one of the most thriving political centres of Ancient Greece, to the extent of competing with Syracuse for control of the Strait. The city, then suffered domination by all those who arrived in turn on the Calabrian peninsula, from the Romans to the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths to the Byzantines, the Normans to the Aragonese until the final Bourbon domination.
A story summed up in part in the National Museum, one of the most prestigious archaeological museums in Italy. The site in which the museum is hosted is a building, which counts among the first in Italy, built for the sole purpose of the museum exhibition; it is the work of Marcello Piacentini, one of the greatest architects of the fascist period, who conceived it as a modern structure after visiting the main museums of Europe. It consists of several sections: the prehistoric collection, the section dedicated to the Greek colonies in Calabria, the numismatic section, the medieval and modern section and the section on underwater archeology, which since 1981 houses the famous Riace Bronzes. The two big bronze statues discovered by chance in 1972 off the shoreline of Riace represent one of the archaeological finds of the twentieth century. Who are the two men so perfectly represented? After lengthy restoration and years of study, we can say that these two beautiful Greek statues were produced in the 5th century B.C. using the difficult technique of direct metal casting. They come from Athens and from the plain of Argos as shown by the analysis of the fusion earth that filled the statues. The Museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 20:00, last entry at 19:30.
After visiting the Museum you can relax by walking along “the most beautiful kilometre in Italy”, in other words the promenade of Reggio Calabria, lined with palm trees and extremely varied plant species, they make up a extensive botanical garden. It is a walk that bewitches with its wonderful views over the Strait of Messina, a landscape to which the Peloritani mountains and the volcano Etna serve as a scenic backdrop. At the end of the promenade you can see the Greek part of the walls, the only evidence of the ancient colony and some remains of Roman baths.
Praia Longa — Reggio Calabria 215 km — 133 miles
Total distance 430 km – 266 miles
N 38° 6’ 40.682’’ – E 15° 38’ 50.249’’
Exit southbound on SS106 road, proceed in the direction of Catanzaro, take the exit to Catanzaro West, at the roundabout take the SS48 road, follow signs to Lamezia Terme and enters the SS280 road, follow the indications to enter the A3 highway to Reggio Calabria, proceed to destination.
Average travel time 2 h 40’