Travelling down the length of the boot, your last stop before hopping across to Sicily is Reggio Calabria. It really is the last town on the toe of the boot and yet it is certainly not a place to be ignored. A bustling university town, Reggio Calabria is well worth visiting to get a glimpse of real Calabria and all its beautiful paradoxes. Impressive modern statues proudly stand their ground in front of old traditional architecture, ferries from Sicily bring flocks of tourists who stand shoulder to shoulder with workers, and sleepy sun seekers are replaced by lively youngsters seeking the next best bar to frequent. Reggio Calabria is an interesting blend of old and new and here is my new guide to an old favourite of mine.
While seemingly little is known about Reggio Calabria in modern Europe, it hasn’t always been like this as it played an important role in Magno Grecia as it is one of the oldest Greek colonies in Southern Italy. Its rich cultural history and the countless different settlers it homed over the centuries make it an archaeological dream and this is demonstrated perfectly by the museum of archaeology which boasts an array of artefacts including the prized possession: the Riace Bronzes. With such a rich and varied history it’s little wonder that Reggio holds many secrets within its city walls. In fact, it is still possible to see the remains of the old city wall if you walk along the lungomare.
The city is built alongside the sea with its main attractions running parallel to the waters edge. The Corso Garibaldi is the perfect place for a spot of shopping and it hosts both high street names and more upmarket boutiques flaunting the most coveted of designer labels. It is here where people from miles around flock on a Saturday to spend their hard earned cash and of course to scrutinise their fellow shoppers. As you passeggiare from one end to the other, you’ll encounter plenty of opportunities to gain energy with a quick espresso as well as passing some beautiful buildings and statues which make up the municipal buildings. One of the nicest things about strolling up the corso of Reggio Calabria is the glimpse of sea, and of course the fantastic view of Sicily, that you get at every road that dissects the corso.
It is this view that will draw you to the lungomare, the perfect place to really enjoy Reggio Calabria whether it be by checking out one of the many beach bars, eating an ice cream with a view or admiring the Rabarama Sculptures. The Lungomare is a hive of activity whatever the hour and seeing how close Sicily is always amazes me. While on the lungomare you will come across the amazing Rabarama sculptures. three examples of modern art which are both stunningly beautiful whilst also being slightly disturbing at the same time. The modern art clashes violently with the traditional architecture behind it and it is this interesting mix of old versus new that you will find all over Reggio thanks to the devastating earthquake of 1908 which wiped out most of the city leaving behind this eclectic mix of new and old that you see today.
To really experience part of Reggio’s history you must visit the Castello, which though considered to be Aragonese is probably much more ancient than that as it is thought to date back as far as 563 AD. It is here that the Normans established their court and over history it has stood tall against the many attacks to the city, famous for its important gateway to Magno Grecia. Considered to be one of the symbols of Reggio Calabria and located in the heart of the city you must visit, walk to the top and take in the stunning views of Reggio, the straits of Messina and Sicily with Etna holding fort in the background. The castle is free to visit and hosts a number of art exhibitions as well as giving tours on the history of the castle itself.
No trip to Reggio Calabria would be complete without sampling a gelato from one of the many gelateria on the lungomare. The most famous of all and the winner of many national competitions is Cesare, a tiny shop found at the start of the lungomare which serves up delicious ice creams in a wealth of delicious flavours. The hardest part is deciding which flavour to go for!
Reggio Calabria is a great city with lots to explore and discover so why not come and visit and see for yourself this fantastic part of Southern Italy.
Would you like to visit? Have you been before? If so, leave me a comment below.