Dazzling Scilla, Italy’s Reggio Calabria

March, 2018

You would be forgiven for wanting to visit Scilla in Italy’s Reggio Calabria, time and time again…this really is a wonderful destination.

And what better way to see this dazzling town precariously perched against rocks, than with friends from overseas…

In my first post on Scilla, I introduce you to the main sights of this picturesque southern Italian town.

As this town is a photographer’s delight, I’m indulging in mainly photos.

Tip: This article is now available as a mobile app on iTunes and GooglePlay. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Getting there

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, ItalyIf you’re on the train from the north, then stop at Scilla’s Marina Grande train station. From Cosenza, the Trenitalia trip is about three hours, which follows the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast, whilst snaking south to the toe, in Reggio Calabria.

Life is so much easier with a hire car. As this is the second visit, driving from Cosenza in Calabria is straight-forward on the E45 for under two hours. There are no tolls and the highway is in great shape in this part of Italy – a smooth ride.

Park just before the huge tunnel as the parking meters never work, so you are safe from getting a fine – but do check, just in case.

Tunnel, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Towards Marina Grande

Another view of the stone tunnel, which is not particularly striking and challenging to get a good angle…

Tunnel, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Chianalea in the distance

I’m always amazed that there aren’t too many, or rarely, foreigners in this region. And, think that travellers are in a hurry to get down to Sicily as fast as possible, whilst bypassing this beautiful and untouched part of Italy.

Scilla (Scylla)

Depending on how you arrive to Scilla, you land in Marina Grande or the village of Chianalea.

The towns are connected by the massive tunnelled archway and nestled on either side of the 4th-century Castello Ruffo. Strategically perched high on a rocky outcrop, overlooking the stunning Tyrrhenian Sea, I’m yet to visit this castle – next trip…

This craggy promontory is also known as Ulysses rock because of its surrounding legends.

Castello Ruffo, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Scylla’s lair

Renown as the Violet Coast for its sublime and dynamic colours depending on the time of day, this really is a spectacular region of Italy, and one not to be missed. Not too many foreigners visit this area but it is popular with Italian tourists.

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Tyrrhenian tranquillity

Marina Grande

The Beach of Sirens, a one-kilometre beachfront along the Marina Grande is extremely popular as a tourist destination during the summer months.

Although if visiting outside of July and August, you will have this relaxing stretch almost to yourself, just as we did today.

Marina Grande, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Marina Grande calmness

Why not take a cooling dip in the sparkling clear sea? Or, just wallow the hours away on the white sandy beach, before enjoying a refreshing and traditional Italian Spritz, at sunset.

Marina Grande, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Up close and personal


Chianalea’s harbour is picture-postcard and it doesn’t get much better than this, for your lens.

Chianalea, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Chianalea vista

This picturesque village reminds me a lot of the breathtaking five villages in Italy’s north, near Genoa – the famous Cinque Terre.

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Perilous shores

Wandering along the narrow laneways whilst gazing up to the amber and cinnamon-hued homes, delicately balance against the rugged craggy peninsula, is both relaxing and pleasant. Marvel at the Italian engineering feat, with homes built literally on the sea’s rocky shoreline.

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Lapping the shores

The proximity to the water must create many problems during bad storms, which I haven’t experienced here yet.

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Seafront closeness – many cats live here

This Italian fishing village is famous for its Swordfish and the harbour is dotted with brightly-coloured traditional fishing boats…

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Harbour views

…that don’t appear to have changed much through the centuries.

Swordfish boat, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Fishing traditional-style

Antiquated stone buildings still exude charm and mystery.

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy

Although homes may seem uninhabited initially, an aged local pops out of a window or doorway, momentarily startling you…

Scylla’s Legend

Take a peek up towards Scilla’s northern end and to the rock, which is believed to be Scylla’s den.

As with many myths and legends passed down through the ages in southern Italy, this legend dates back to the 1700s. And, recounts that Scylla was the fabled six-headed sea monster that tragically lured and drowned sailors, trying to navigate the Messina Strait.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy
The beast’s victims

Reminds me a little of the beautiful but dangerous creature Lorelei – another mythical siren that lured sailors with her voice, only to end their lives violently and horribly on rocks – but I digress…

Scylla is also closely associated with Charybdis, which is a huge whirlpool – rather than a sea monster – off Sicily’s coast. Given the close proximity of the two, passing sailors were doomed either way – as to bypass Charybdis, meant sailing too close to Scylla’s den. And so, there was no escape with looming and imminent death.

Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Not Charybdis but looks mythical and ominous

Southern Italy but especially in the smaller villages, holds many tales of tragedy and pain. Dotted along the coastline as well as inland, are ghost towns that I’m still to explore, many of which have remarkable but harrowing legends.

Where to eat

Remember that in true Italian style, most places are closed anywhere from lunchtime to 8pm and especially out of the summer months.

Ritrivo S. Francesco Bar Ristorante Pizzeria

On Via Gornelle N.29, this quaint little place is a great stop to savour an Aperitivo (4€), whilst sitting outside and watching the locals go by, on their daily walk along the seafront.

Gorgeous views with good service at this locally-run bar, which is open at lunchtime when many are closed.

Wine Bar Casa Vela

Returned to this B&B/restaurant a second time as quite impressed on our first visit. Also, it opens at 6 pm when most restaurants in Scilla open at 8 pm.

I’m happy to say that the second visit is just as good for delectable food and excellent service.

This restaurant prides itself on only serving delicious authentic Calabrese produce and wines, apart from the Prosecco, I’m told.

Facing Chianalea’s main ancient cobbled street, you can comfortably watch locals on their passeggiata (stroll) – an Italian favourite pastime – without being too obvious, whilst sipping your glass of vino or Spritz.

Visit my Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy at Image Earth Travel.

Spritz, Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Still perfecting the refreshing traditional Spritz – Chin-chin!

33 thoughts on “Dazzling Scilla, Italy’s Reggio Calabria

Add yours

  1. I wish I could have spent more time in this beautiful fishing village when I was there on a one-day visit in June. Must go back! Had a wonderful fish lunch at a restaurant right on the water. Do you live in Calabria?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A very nice place to get stuck! This was my/our first visit to this part of Italy. My wife and I enjoyed it immensely! She was born in the Molise part of Italy and speaks fluent Italian. We have spent time in Italy every year since 2009, visiting different regions of the country.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. So you’ll definitely have to return. 😉
      It always helps to travel here with a local or someone fluent in Italian, especially in the south.
      Many thanks for all of your great comments!


  2. are you more of a photographer or writer? Or both? 🙂 I like the photos titled harbour views and perilous shores. Nicely captured and left this serene sensation in me. By the way, if you are a coffee lover, think would be nice you capture how coffee is enjoyed in all locations you go. I like cappuccino. Very much so in Italy. Milan, Sicily, Turino, wherever there. Once I was looked at sideways when I asked for a cappuccino after lunch :-). I was informed the traditional way used to be cappuccino only in the morning. I like it so much all the time, morning, mid morning, lunch, evening and night ha ha ha..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, I will say both, but I leave it up to my audience to decide and happy that you like my post.

      Great idea and I’ll see what I can do for you…
      Yes, traditionally in Italy, milky coffees are only enjoyed in the morning and typically for breakfast with a sweet pastry. But don’t worry, I still order a cappuccino anytime in the day and depending where I’m at, get funny reactions – it’s an instant giveaway that you’re a foreigner.


  3. AH, no tourists! Love it LOL Chianalea looks gorgeous and love all the mythological stuff…. The story about Scylla reminded me of my myth course I did for part of my degree… This is and excerpt…”The artist has chosen to foreground several details of the myth. Being a nymph herself, Scylla often visited the ocean nymphs, and the colour of the palace she is standing outside could be representative of the sea that she loved. In Ovid’s narrative, Scylla, upon sighting Glaucus, flees in terror to the top of a mountain adjoining the shore (13.908-13.909). The mountain in the painting could represent this. Similarly it could represent the ‘huge crag, facing the strait’ (13.910), as Scylla’s future transformation into a rock……” The mountain may relate to that hill with the castle of top.. Fascinating stuff 🙂 xx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Beautiful photos. The story of Scylla and Charybdis dates back to Homer’s Odyssey. The site of the castle has been used for millennia, and there is archeological evidence of a Basilian monastery there, as well. The Normans built a military fortress on the site that has been modified over the centuries. The Ruffo family bought and restored it in the 16th century.

      Liked by 1 person

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