Vibo Valentia and the Coast of the Gods

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Vibo Valentia and the Coast of the Gods

VIBO VALENTIA

The entire province of Vibo Valentia is characterized by a rocky chain that cliffs down to the sea. It is in this context that the Costa degli Dei (Coast of the Gods) rises, renowned for the beauty of its beaches. The nerve center is Vibo Valentia, which in some areas has left unchanged the typical structure of the medieval village. The castle overlooking the entire urban nucleus houses an important artifact inside the State Archaeological Museum: the Orphic Lamella, a thin gold plate engraved with verses. It is undoubtedly one of the most important epigraphic testimonies of ancient Greece certifying Hellenic influence in the area. The castle was built around the year 1000 by Roger I of Sicily and stands on the remains of the Hipponion Acropolis. It is characterized by cylindrical towers and a large gate dating back to the Angevin period. The historic center of Vibo Valentia offers very interesting views from a historical and cultural point of view. The bell tower of the Renaissance church of San Michele is the flagship, but the cathedral of San Leoluca and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore must be visited.

PIZZO CALABRO

Pizzo Calabro is one of the most renowned places in Calabria and not just the Costa degli Dei. It is famous for being the “city of ice cream”, so much so that it obtained the IGP classification in 2011. Gourmets and tourists cannot help but be conquered by the typical production, the “truffle”, to be enjoyed perhaps on the splendid belvedere of the historic center. The panoramas offered are like a movie set, with enchanting glimpses that can be seen at the end of the downhill streets. The influence of the Aragonese is evident, and the structure of the castle confirms it. It was there that King Joachim Murat of Naples was imprisoned and executed in 1815. The castle, today, is dedicated to him, and inside are jealously preserved some testimonies of those bloody moments that marked dramatic hours for the entire South Italy. In Pizzo Calabro, it will also be possible to visit the Church of Piedigrotta, carved inside a rock by Neapolitan shipwrecked people. Having escaped death at the end of the 17th century, they thanked God in this way. Since the last century, the church also features statues depicting key figures from the scriptures.

TROPEA

Tropea needs no introduction. Famous worldwide, it is a destination for thousands of tourists throughout the year. In summer, it is capable of becoming the nerve center of the entire region. It is perched on a promontory 60 meters above sea level. Apart from the panorama that allows you to glimpse the island of Stromboli in the distance, it boasts enchanting white beaches. Walking along the promenade, you reach the sight of the rocky spur that divides the coastline in two, from the top of which towers the church of Santa Maria dell’Isola, the symbol of the town. Fully enjoying the village means first walking along the central Corso Vittorio Emanuele II towards the sea. However, you can also divert to visit the Romanesque Sicilian-Norman Cathedral of the 12th century. Inside, you can admire the icon of the Patroness of the town, the Virgin of Romania, dating back to 1230, and the large Black Crucifix of 1600. For souvenirs, there are many typical craft shops. Among a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and a local wine, do not forget to buy the famous Red Onion of Tropea. It has the IGP mark and is envied at every latitude of the Boot.

ZUNGRI

Zungri is called “the city of stone”, a testament to the presence on the territory of the “Basilian” monks who used the caves as granges, hermitages, and monasteries. A few kilometers from Tropea, there is the rock settlement of Sbariati: an archaeological site of 3,000 square meters. It is an incredible village boasting about 100 cave houses carved into the stones, sometimes even with two environments on different levels. The internal streets are real staircases that lead to underground environments, the so-called hypogeal houses. Their shape is varied, heterogeneous. Some show circular or rectangular windows, and inside, niches are not missing. Another place of considerable tourist attraction is the Museum of rock and peasant civilization of Zungri. It is located in a former oil mill and offers visitors many interesting finds.

SPILINGA

Showing up in Spilinga without knowing what the famous ‘Nduja is, is the worst way to cross the town’s borders. The famous salami is a sausage obtained from the mixture of pork meats skillfully kneaded with abundant doses of finely ground red chili pepper from Calabria, with the addition of salt. It can be said, summarizing, that it is one of the most well-known symbols of the entire region. Of particular interest is the bed of the Ruffa stream. Going upstream, you will encounter the remains of nine ancient mills (dating back to the 7th-10th centuries) that give the valley its name. Along the banks of the stream, there is a very rare stone: the woodwardia radicans, which has aroused the interest of numerous botanists. Be careful venturing alone: the Ruffa valley is located 3 km from the village and can only be reached through treacherous paths. To visit in the village, there is also the cave of the Madonna delle Fonti. Other caves, almost all natural, still bear the signs of hermits, while in others, artifacts from the Neolithic age have been found.

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