Reggio di Calabria Mini Guide
The city is found right on the toe of Italy and looks across the Strait of Messina to Sicily. It’s the second oldest city in Italy and almost exclusively grows bergamot oranges to provide 80% of the world’s supply of bergamot oil. It is the most celebrated viewing point for a ‘fata morgana’ a particularly strong mirage.
The city was founded in 720BC by the Etruscans and it became an important city allied to Rome who eventually absorbed it into the Roman Empire, finally becoming part of the Byzantine Empire. The city was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1783 but worse was to come when 25,000 died in the earthquake of 1908 and many of the survivors were caught up in the ensuing tsunami which sent 40 feet waves crashing towards the fleeing citizens.
Most people visiting Reggio di Calabria arrive at Ravagnese Airport, 3 miles south of the city. Flights arrive there from Rome
. Other people arrive by train from Milan, Rome and Naples alighting at the Stazione Centrali. Budget airline fans can fly Ryanair or easyJet into Lamezia Terme Airport 70 miles to the north.
The main attraction for tourists are the Riace bronzes which are two life-sized bronze statues of Greek warriors which were discovered by accident in the Riace Marina. In the city you should also visit the cathedral which is the largest religious building in Calabria. Outside of the city climb Aspromonte to visit the national park and marvel at the view over the Strait of Messina.
If you tire of life in the city, take a ferry over the strait of Messina to visit Sicily which was once part of the kingdom of Naples. Another unusual excursion is to visit Mount Etna, climb its slopes and look down at the crater from which great destruction has been wreaked over the centuries.
During the day you can mingle with the locals and pay a Euro to swim a the Lido Communale and in the evenings watch a show at Calabria’s Teatro Communale, the largest theatre in the region, which seats up to 1,500 people.
Shopping in Reggio will see you discovering fine Italian fashion – this was the birth place of Versace- or purchasing beautiful Italian leather handbags. For a souvenir to take home for family and friends try a bottle of local Bergamotto liqueur.
Reggio is full of wonderful places to eat and drink. Two establishments that are popular with the locals are; Momo, where English and Italian drinkers and diners mingle to practise their language skills. For a more formal meal, try the euphemistically named ‘Cordon Bleu’ which serves take away food but in the style of fine cuisine. Here the ‘waiters’ dress in black tie and dinner jackets to serve you burgers and chips, hot dogs and pizza.
As with all major Italian towns and cities, religion plays a large part in town festivals and Reggio is no exception. There during Holy Week you can expect street processions, fireworks, song and dance with the performance repeated weeks later at the time of Ascension.
Reggio Calabria is at the furthest south westerly point of mainland Italy. It’s a beautiful and very ancient city surrounded by farms that seem to have changed little over the centuries. Take your hire car down to the port to witness the landing of the day’s catch in the harbour.
Mount Etna isn’t far from there and its slopes dominate the skyline. Tourists go to see the ancient Greek bronzes called the Riace Bronzes which are found in a museum dedicated to the time when Reggio was an important Byzantine city.
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