Reggio Calabria’s stunning Scilla, Italy

Nestled snugly between a castle and cliffs, and hearing much about the beauty of Scilla, Reggio Calabria’s gorgeous fishing village, finally it is time for a visit.

After an amazing nine days in and around Siracuse in Sicily, it is time to head back to Cosenza, but not without a two-day detour first to Scilla for a quick taste of its reputation.

If you’re travelling to Sicily, then check out my posts for travel tips:  9 days around Syracuse: Sicily Part 1Syracuse’s Charming Island of Ortigia: Sicily Part 2, and Day trips from Syracuse: Sicily Part 3.

Scilla, Calabria, ItalyTravel

Travelling from Sicily, it is only about an hour’s drive from Messina to Scilla, if you time the ferry trip right. From Calabria’s ferry side of Villa San Giovanni, the drive to the centre of Scilla is only about eight kilometres.

Scilla also has a train line, which stops in Marina Grande. If you travel from Cosenza, the Trenitalia trip is about three hours and follows the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast south to the toe of Reggio Calabria.

An abundance of varying accommodations at varying prices is offered, which also makes Scilla popular with young people during summer.

Scilla’s name

In Greek mythology, Scylla was Poseidon’s beautiful Naiad (water nymph), which the jealous Amphitrite turned into a frightening sea monster by poisoning Scylla’s bathing spring. And so, Scilla’s promontory is the monster’s traditional site and is also known as Scylla’s rock’.

If you look closely, clues of the mythical monster are dotted around this village in colourful wall tiles, signs, a fountain, and also makes a presence in tourist brochures.

Scylla, Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Mythical sea monster


The dominant outcrop on which Castello Ruffo is perched, separates Scilla’s Marina Grande to the west, and the village of Chianalea to the east of its cliff.

The village seems impossibly wedged between the castle’s rock cliff on one side, and steep hillsides flanking the sea on the other – striking.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
The quaint village and harbour

I was told by a local in Cosenza that Scilla can only be reached by boat as there are no access roads. This isn’t entirely true as a narrow road for small cars and mopeds run through the back of the village.


Without previous reliable information, the decision was made to date Scilla back to the 5th Century BC. Some also state that Scilla dates back to the Trojan War: 13th or 12th Century BC.

This area is steeped in history and of the extremely skilled Tyrrhenian pirates’ domination of the Mediterranean routes, fighting local fishermen, with the pirates eventually driven out by Anassila the Young’s army.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
No pirate boats to be seen nowadays in these translucent waters…

The myriad of rocks and high fortress created an excellent natural refuge and an inaccessible place from which the pirates could conduct effective assaults along the coastline.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Snug seafront yard

This stretch also proved invaluable as a protected hiding place for spoils and a stronghold, should a counterattack strike eventuate.

The ancient village of fishermen, Chianalea, is both colourful as it is enchanting and easily captivates your heart.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Scenic vista

Undulating sleepy cobbled lanes, cascade directly into the Tyrrhenian Sea and are a delight to explore. Locals are also very accommodating and friendly.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Alluring lanes
Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Roadway through the village

Castello Dei Ruffo

The rocky Scillèo Promontory boasts the imposing Castello dei Ruffo, an ancient fortress built by the Dukes of Calabria with the fortification commencing in the fifth century BC, and is also known as Scylla’s rock.

Part of southern Calabria and the whole area of the Strait was damaged in the 1783 earthquake. Sadly, Castello Ruffo also succumbed to this and becoming state property in 1808, was restored in 1810.

The castle lived life as a monastery and a lighthouse, although today, it is a cultural centre for historic exhibitions, but also is a conference centre – even wedding functions.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Castello Dei Ruffo’s rockface with Scilla’s safe harbour below

Marina Grande

A walk to the end of Chianalea’s picturesque harbour and through some massive concrete arches has you descending down into Marina Grande and its one-kilometre-long beach: The Beach of Sirens.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Lovely walk through about 500 metres of this tunnelled road

This walk is around the hill that Castello dei Ruffo is perched high upon, overlooking the Strait of Messina.

Descending into Marina Grande, a tiny pretty square greets you, which seems to be a popular meeting place for locals. Why not stop here and relax before the walk along the long beach?

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Splashes of colour and history
Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Late September warmth still sees swimmers


Villa Grazia Scilla is an amazing home on three levels with a large garden that ebbs the seashore.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
The abode

With stunning sea views from most rooms, this is a gorgeous hideaway and about a half-hour walk along a rocky beach from Chianalea.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Bedroom view

Grazia (owner) came bearing gifts of fruit (even Bergamot), vegetables, and many local things for us to try – all grown from the garden at the house. Even fresh walnuts, which are hard to come by but not from her garden; so very kind are the people from this region.


Scilla is famous for its Swordfish (pesce spada) and sadly, I didn’t see the Passarelle (the village’s famous boats), working or in the harbour.

Casa Vella – Stumbled upon this B&B, which has an excellent little restaurant facing the main roadway and the only restaurant opened at around 18:00 hrs – the rest open at 20:00 hrs.

The restaurant prides itself on only serving delicious authentic Calabrese produce and wines (except the two types of Prosecco, I’m told), and offers excellent service.

Sit outside and enjoy the flow of locals, tourists, and the occasional wedding parade on a photo shoot. Chuckle as you see the bride wearing impossibly high heels, whilst walking on cobblestones – a feat in itself and very impressive.

Back to Cosenza

Although it’s sad to leave this gorgeous corner of Calabria and there hasn’t been enough time to explore, it’s back home to Cosenza. I know I will return to Scilla and soon…

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Gallery for more global images. More posts on Italy.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
Fontana Storica della Sirena – symbolic of the myth of Scylla

35 responses to “Reggio Calabria’s stunning Scilla, Italy”

  1. Saloni Avatar

    Such an informative post. Apart from the photos being excellent, the history is so rich! I would definitely love to visit this place once I’m in Italy. I have also written a small post on one of the Italian cities:
    It has links to other posts too. Would love to hear from you! 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Saloni!
      I’ve just read your post, which contains lovely photos. My friend has just moved to Bologna for one year so I have no excuse now to visit – it’s not too far from Cosenza. 😉

      1. Saloni Avatar

        Hahaha wow! That’s great news. Good luck with your travels👍❤️

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you. I’ve been living in Calabria for a while.

      3. Saloni Avatar

        That’s great. I’ll keep in touch with you 😍 I’m visiting Italy in July and I definitely wanna visit Calabria.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Cool, I see you speak Italian, so you can teach me. 😉

      5. Saloni Avatar

        Goes without saying!😊

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent, thank you!

  2. Le Marche Magic. Avatar

    Thank You so much for this post Nilla, I came to your site this morning because today we are packing up the camper and coming down to Calabria to travel around for Easter week.
    We will be passing through Cosenza so if by chance you see us, mixed couple with dog and camper. Please come and say hello. I will be revisiting your past blogs to get a lay of the land ;0)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you!
      Lucky you packing up the camper and heading off. Sounds like you will be on a great break. We are back in Cosenza Tuesday some time. When will you be passing through? Would be great to meet you guys and the puppy. 🙂

      1. Le Marche Magic. Avatar

        We are going to make the stretch to Scilla and sleep there tonight. In the morning ferry to Sicily.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        A long drive – safe travels. Let me know if you pass Coenza on the way back. Happy Easter 🙂

      3. Le Marche Magic. Avatar

        Most definitely 😉

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Cool. Have a great time!

  3. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Belísimo! Belísimo! Particularly love the “snug seafront yard”. I could sleep like a baby in one those rooms above the sea. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you!
      So could I, it would almost as good as living on a boat. 😉

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Yes, that’s right. You lived on a boat. 🙂 I lived by the sea most of my childhood. The water but a few feet away from the house. Marked me for life I guess. 😉

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Indeed I did. 😉
        The sea has a habit of crawling slowly under your skin and remaining there forever…

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Yes it does. 🙂

  4. Aixa Avatar

    Always great photos! I really love the arches and the shadow arches!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Aixa! It’s such a beautiful region of Italy.

  5. Patty Avatar

    That’s a part of Italy I definitely hope to visit in the future.
    Beautiful travel-report again, dear Nilla.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Patty! You need to get down here 😉 x

      1. Patty Avatar

        I know, I know…

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I’ll be waiting for you… 😉

  6. Sartenada Avatar

    Stunning photos Nilla. Thank You showing them. Have a good day!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! It’s a stunning area. Hope it’s not too cold where you are now… 😉

  7. The Year I Touched My Toes Avatar

    Oh stop! I’ve got to go to work tomorrow. but seriously it looks beautiful. Oh if had lots of money and or more spare time. Louise

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha Louise, it really is that beautiful in this region. Shame you can’t come over. 😉

  8. Marcellina Avatar

    Nilla, these are such gorgeous photos! My cousin lives in Scilla and your photos remind me of our short afternoon wandering through the streets and shores of Scilla. xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks for the feedback Marcellina and glad the post brought back memories.
      Scilla is gorgeous and we visited again a couple of days ago with family. This time it was lovely and quiet. x

  9. karenincalabria Avatar

    Scilla seems to have been created for the photographer so you must have been going wild. The tunnel, however, hasn’t ever been my favorite spot, and I’m always looking towards the ocean, so congrats on that angle, too!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Indeed I was and as we were there again a couple of days’ ago, went wild again.
      Yeah, the tunnel is ugly but I always try and look at things differently to get a good shot and hope I do the subject justice. 🙂

  10. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I could easily spend time here, wandering the streets. I love peering into the back yards and exploring the neighbourhoods.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It’s gorgeous. Returned there yesterday with more guests and they loved it. Stopped for a snack and vino, and watched the world go by. 😉

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