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 Google Play. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.
If 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.
Another view of the stone tunnel, which is not particularly striking and challenging to get a good angle…
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.
Depending on how you arrive at 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.
Renowned 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.
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.
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.
Chianalea’s harbour is picture-postcard and it doesn’t get much better than this, for your lens.
Wandering along the narrow laneways whilst gazing up at 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.
The proximity to the water must create many problems during bad storms, which I haven’t experienced here yet.
This Italian fishing village is famous for its Swordfish and the harbour is dotted with brightly-coloured traditional fishing boats…
…that doesn’t appear to have changed much through the centuries.
Antiquated stone buildings still exude charm and mystery.
Although homes may seem uninhabited initially, an aged local pops out of a window or doorway, momentarily startling you…
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.
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 from looming and imminent death.
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 during 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 and 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.