With a plethora of fabulous tourist destinations in southern Italy’s Calabria region, the famous Murales (murals) in Diamante are definitely worth visiting…
I have to let you in on a little secret, I did go slightly crazy taking loads of photos today. But the murals are not the only attraction in this pretty coastal town.
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 by bus
The Preite bus from the Cosenza Autostazione to Diamante costs 5€ one-way and takes around one and a half hours.
Make sure you tell the driver beforehand to stop at Diamante as he doesn’t go into the town, instead drives past.
You’re dropped along the highway and need to cross this to get to the town’s side, then walk down the steep hill.
When you need to return, there’s an old dilapidated bus shelter without seats on the town side, opposite to where the bus dropped you off.
History of the murals
With over one hundred and fifty murals decorating Diamante and painted on almost every wall of every narrow laneway, you’ll have fun exploring this art. I’ve recently heard that there are around three-hundred murals now, but not sure if this is correct?
Focusing on a different subject or theme, emerging and established artists started leaving their mark on the walls of Diamante back in 1981.
The original idea ‘Operazione murales’ came from the painter Nanni Razzetti, whom was given the go-ahead on his idea from local council. And so, the ancient stone walls became a real-life easel for around eighty-three of Razzetti’s colleagues.
Since 1981, some murals have deteriorated to just a scraping or a faded smear across walls.
Other images are maintained and still very fresh.
New paintings appear and it’s wonderful to see that local authorities are not adverse to this type of artistic venture. Then again, how could anyone be against such creative beauty?
Wander along and absorb yourself amongst this open-air art gallery, whilst visualising artists creating their treasure on a fresh stone canvas, across a window, down a narrow laneway, or within a tiny doorway.
In search of the Murals
As an absolute lover of street art, avidly seeking this art out regardless of the country in which I travel, I’m more than excited to wander through in search of these murals.
I didn’t mange to pick up a map of the murals today from the information office. Yes, there is a map. Instead, I counted on stumbling my way around.
Rest assured, you can’t really get lost in Diamante as all lanes and roads lead to the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea. Although before arriving today, I did check an online map just to get a feel for an approximate street in which to start.
If you’re anything like me when travelling, not too organised, don’t have data on your phone or rarely take it out of your pack, and leave everything up to chance, then this is how your day may pan out…
…walking in the labyrinth of cobbled lanes whilst losing yourself in search of art.
There’s so much incredible talent in this town that it’s not long until amazement takes a hold.
Art is absolutely everywhere…
Tile masterpiece in the making.
Even Hawaii gets a mention…
Diamante the name
In case you’re wondering, Diamante means ‘diamond’ in Italian and no, diamonds were not found in this region.
The name comes from the Diamante Citron, which is a type of lemon boasting several varieties, widely exported to other parts of Europe and the world. One type particularly looks quite warty and not very appealing at all – I’m yet to taste this fruit.
Poets such as Byron and D’Annunzio made the Diamante Citron famous and this fruit is also sought after by the Jewish community, during religious feasts.
Dating back to the 1500s, Diamante’s Centro Storico (historic centre) is small but a pleasure to stroll through and very clean. This area seems to hold the highest concentration of murals.
Imagine using this art as your playground.
It’s wonderful bumping into yet another fabulous lifelike mural around every corner and so unexpected.
I’m kind of glad I don’t have a map as discovering these murals on my own is a great surprise – although I know that I haven’t seen every mural in this town.
The only downside is that many are not signed or the artist’s signature has worn off with time. Perhaps a map provides this pertinent information?
The town’s waterfront is not short of trinket and souvenir shops. Understandably so as after all, this is a summer tourist destination for locals.
The fiery chilli is grown in this region and another reason for Diamante’s fame. If you visit during September you can experience the Chilli Festival, which lasts several days. I imagine this is a gastronomic delight.
The calm Tyrrhenian Sea gently laps the shores of Diamante, which hints as if time has stood still…
A live taste (in Italian) by Rai in this video of the murals and also shows you a little of the town.
Popular in many countries and here also are love locks.
Another type of art, which I discovered whilst meandering along the waterfront…
Diamante dining experience
Due to its popularity for locals in the summer months as of course Italians flock to the sea, Diamante’s waterfront is lined with many restaurants. All offer a similar three-course ‘Tourist Menu’ including wine, for 15€.
Ristorante Pizzeria Il Giardino
Deciding I don’t want to eat a ‘tourist menu’ and preferring to savour a Diamante dish, I ask a couple of locals for the best place to eat. If it’s one thing I’ve learnt whilst living in Italy, Italians love to share their traditional and local dishes, and are passionate about you having a great dining experience.
Finally, I take the shopkeeper’s advice and crossed the Via Libertà stone bridge to Il Giardino on Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, 44.
Advertising the tourist menu with anchovies – a local delicacy – I let the waiter know that I don’t feel like anchovies today. No problem: ‘we’ll make it seafood instead of anchovies’.
This is sounding great but short-lived with each course that arrived…
Antipasto – marinated anchovies with olives
Primi – pasta with anchovies and tomato
Secondi – fresh fried anchovies
I’m over anchovies!
I have to admit that I’ve never in my life been to a restaurant that served the same main ingredient for three consecutive courses and very disappointed that the waiter didn’t deliver on his promise. On paying, my waiter was no longer in the restaurant so I didn’t bother mentioning my disappointment to the new guy.
Informed by the Indian shopkeeper that this restaurant has been operating for around forty years, I thought I was onto a winner. Locals also dined here for lunch, but perhaps it’s my own fault taking the easy way out and selecting the Tourist Menu.
Anyway, back to the murals…which one is your favourite?