La Costa Viola

La Costa Viola


The first stop on our itinerary all the way to Villa San Giovanni, Palmi marks the starting point of the famous Costa Viola (so named for the distinctive purplish color of the sea). Renowned for the historic Varìa, it can be considered the location from which the famous Costa Viola (named for the distinctive purplish color of the sea) begins, extending to Villa San Giovanni. It is recommended to visit these places in August when the historic Varìa takes place, a grand procession deeply felt by the local population, during which solemn celebrations are held in honor of Maria Santissima della Sacra Lettera (Patroness of the city): along the streets of the village, a votive machine (the Varìa, precisely) is dragged, over 25 meters high and carried on projectHeritage of Humanity. Not far from here, you can reach Monte Sant’Elia, from which you can admire one of the most fascinating landscapes in the world: from this natural balcony, in fact, you can admire the Strait of Messina, the Aeolian Islands, and Sicily; the three white crosses on the summit of this mountain recall Mount Calvary where Jesus was crucified. From this height, you can move down to the seashore, from where you can experience a dive: you can reach the “secca la Motta” reachable from the beach of la Marinella; continuing north, you will also find the “Grotta delle Sirene” divided into several environments but with three main chambers.


The village near Palmi is Seminara, famous for its ceramics, namely apotropaic masks depicting mainly gorgons and chimeras with grotesque features; for example, they stick out their tongues, twist their eyes, have huge noses, are depicted with large “crowns” of grape clusters or chili peppers. The best way to “experience” these places is to get lost in the alleys and discover the various artisan shops that still produce such artifacts. Once in Seminara, a visit to the Garzo – Dolciterre oil mill is recommended, which produces extra-virgin oil that immediately strikes you for its fresh fragrance of tomato peel and hazelnuts, but once tasted you can perceive a spicy taste and of eggplants.

Bagnara Calabra

Continuing the itinerary southwards, you reach the nearby village of Bagnara Calabra, famous for its gastronomic traditions (it is one of the main centers of Calabria where swordfish is caught using techniques still linked to ancient tradition on board special boats), as well as viticulture (in these parts, the “zibibbo” grape is cultivated, produced in vineyards obtained through cultivation on terraces carved into the slope of the land), but also for craftsmanship with local workshops working glass). The sea of Bagnara Calabra is also worthy of admiration… from the inside: the dives we recommend here are at the Grotta delle Corvine (perhaps one of the most beautiful along the Costa Viola) reachable by boat and the Secca di Gramà, a true natural scenery in front of your eyes. Once in Bagnara, it is obligatory to stop at Taverna Kerkira for an unforgettable meal. Its Mediterranean cuisine with Hellenic influences, particularly from the Ionian Islands, attracts numerous gourmets. The ingredients, all of the highest quality, are often surprisingly paired, despite their simplicity. Taverna Kerkira (Corfu in Greek, the homeland of chef Fulvio Dato’s mother) is a literally family-run restaurant, born in 1983 from the chef’s desire to experiment with Mediterranean cuisine from the deep south of Calabria and that of Greece.


Another village not to be missed is Scilla. It’s impossible to mention Scilla without speaking of the myth that ties it to the legend of Scylla and Charybdis: Scylla was a six-headed mythological monster, Charybdis another monster that swallowed the waters; both represent the dangers of navigation: the deceptive seduction of the calm sea and the monsters that inhabit its depths. In the maritime area, you venture into the district of Chianalea, the oldest quarter of the village, where man lives in perfect symbiosis with the sea; the denomination derives from the “piano della Galea” and has been nicknamed the “Little Venice of the South”, for the houses that have been literally built on the water. Chianalea is included in the circuit of the “Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” and only by visiting these parts in person can one understand the reasons. In Scilla, in the local vineyards, a fruity red wine is produced, the Cerasuolo di Scilla. Visiting Scilla during the summer season, you have the opportunity to discover the sea in front of the village through a series of dives: the so-called “underwater mountain” about 20m high with seabeds comparable to tropical ones; the “mpaddata di Scilla” one of the most famous shallows in these places; from Marina Grande you can reach (offshore) “Punta Pacì” a rocky promontory rich in small and wonderful caves.


Moving towards the inland area, before reaching Reggio Calabria, you can make a stop at the village of Gambarie. In these places immersed in the Aspromonte National Park, during the winter period, you can experience a unique experience: in fact, you can spend a day in the snow using the ski lifts and taking advantage of the 2 ski slopes and while skiing, you have the opportunity to admire a fantastic panorama with the background of the Strait of Messina, the Aeolian Islands, and Sicily with Mount Etna. In Gambarie, among other things, is the headquarters of the Aspromonte National Park.

Reggio Calabria

Returning to the coastal areas, you finally reach Reggio Calabria, the first Greek colony in Calabria. Here the visit can only begin at the National Archaeological Museum which houses the famous Bronzes of Riace, original Greek sculptures of great visual and emotional impact, although even today their authors are unknown, and recovered by chance in the waters of Riace Marina; visiting this Museum one can understand very well the entire glorious past of Magna Graecia. In Reggio Calabria, the walk along the seafront defined by Gabriele D’Annunzio as the “most beautiful kilometer in Italy” is a must; even from here the view can go beyond the Strait of Messina and reach Sicily, which from here seems closer than ever. Calabria is a land rich in myths and legends and right here is known the mirage of the Fata Morgana: it is that optical phenomenon, visible only from the Calabrian coast, from which originates the myth whereby it is possible to see the close images of Sicily reflected in the sea. Another stop of the day to spend in Reggio Calabria is the city Cathedral.

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