Precious sea areas, not far from the mountains and from natural paradisiac oases. The Province of Crotone in Calabria is relatively young, founded in 1992 by separating part of the territory formerly included in the province of Catanzaro, now bordering on southwest, while the Province of Cosenza borders on the northwest. In the east, the Province of Crotone overlooks the Ionian Sea.
The colors of the sea fade from light blue to emerald green, embellishing a coast rich in history and nature, insomuch as to deserve the definition of protected sea area since 1991. The sea area of Capo Rizzuto is the most extensive of Italy, with a surface of 15,000 hectares of sea. Eight promontories limit the protected area, the first of which, Capocolonna, represents a real archaeological deposit, evidence of the glorious splendors of the Magna Graecia. Here rises the only remaining Doric column of the famous temple dedicated to the goddess Hera Lacinia.
Coasting the protected area, one reaches Punta Le Castella, last bulwark of the marine reserve, with the Byzantine fortress on a small island where Ugurk-Ali, commander of the imperial fleet of Constantinople, was born.
The Provincial territory comprises even wide areas of geological as well as of naturalistic interest, such as the Montagnella Park with the Giglietto Valley and the peak of the Pizzuta Mountain – and, of course, the National Park of the Sila: its forests and woods are of inestimable natural heritage for the community and for the entire nation.
The village of Palumbo is one of the richest places in arts and folklore in the region. Situated at 12.4 mi from Cotronei, Palumbo offers marvelous landscapes, from Lake Ampollino to the endless forest. The village of Principe , situated at 4,853 ft, is immersed in woods of black pine and beech, and enriched by a fabulous undergrowth.
According to Ovid’s legend, the capital owes its name to Hercules: the half-god, returning from one of his mythological labors, wanted to honor his friend Crotone, accidentally injured to death by the hero himself. To repent for his grave mistake, Hercules constructed the city as a memorial. According to history, this is the city of the Greek school founded by Pythagoras, and native land of the Olympic athlete Milo.
Among the most renowned sites, the Castle of Charles V is situated in the ancient part of the city, and so is the Cathedral, which hosts important and precious artisan works. Along the fortified walls of the castle lie the historic city center with its nobile palaces, visible in the old city. The National Archaeological Museum exhibits unique items, foremost among them Hera’s treasure.
Just a few miles away from the city, the archaeological area of Capo Colonna is where the ancient temple of Hera Lacinia once rose. Cirò, renowned for the homonymous wine, is situated on a hill dominating Punta Alice, around the remains of the Carafa Feudal Castle. The ancient village is well-preserved and comprises many genteel dwellings, tangled streets, flights of stairs and religious buildings. The most ancient part of the village begins at Porta di Mavilia. In this area historic residences, such as the Capoano Palace, the Vergi Palace, the Pignataro, Astorini-Susanna, Liotti and Adorisio Palaces can be admired.
Cirò Marina was detached from the Comune of Cirò in 1952. Here stand important archaeological and cultural centers, specifically the ruins of Apollo’s temple in the Doric style, discovered in Punta Alice in 1921. The center of the town is surrounded by orange grooves, vineyards and olive grooves. Since 2004 it has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for the cleanliness of its sea and the quality of its beach services and offerings.
Isola di Capo Rizzuto also boasts rather ancient origins. Its name derives from the term asylos, meaning shelter in the Greek. Le Castella is a very famous resort characterized by the beauty of the sea and of its Aragonese Castle, which seems to rise out of the waters; the Castle is linked to the rest of the terrain by a small strip of land. The Cathedral of Capo Rizzuto has been an episcopal seat since 1818. Then, the Aquarium, also a Sea Environment Educational Center if ideal for younger visitors. Finally, the Old and New Towers are part of the coastal defensive system.
San Severina is one of the most suggestive centers of the region: it is situated on a rocky cliff at 1,070 feet above sea level, in the center of the Neto River Valley. Due to its peculiar location, it is called the "stone ship.” San Severina’s Castle, with its imposing four towers, can be seen from every corner of the valley. The Cathedral dates back to the 13th Century and still bears the traces left by centuries of history. The Church of Santa Filomena, also known as "Pozzolino," is developed on two levels, the lower part of which is dedicated to the Madonna del Pozzo.
Artistic itineraries in discovery of the Province's numerous archaeological sites alternate with the many available excursions through the natural parks and mountains. Visitors can also canoe or paddle-boat on Lake Ampollino, or explore the terrain, history and culture by way of bicycle paths.
Highly-appreciated are the territory of the former Cutro-Crotone-Papanice railway, with its galleries and tunnels in mint condition; and a fauna rich in herons and coots in springtime. The Macchia dell'Arpa tour forms a circle and runs through beechwoods, entering into zones 1 and 2 of the Sila National Park. The woods area comprises pristine water sources and the unique granite rocks of Fosso Iannace. Finally, many cyclists venture onto the oval-shaped trail of the Gariglione, an oasis of rare beauty in the heart of the Park.
The excursions through the National Park of the Sila represent a unique chance for photography, bird-watching and bio-watching buffs. Furthermore, the summit of Monte Santa Barbara is used as an Astronomic Observatory.
River Trekking is a way to live in contact with uncontaminated nature. The excursions follow the river's course as it moves upstream. In some cases, tours of the low gullets of Tacina, Migliarite and Senapite are very difficult and suited to more skilled hikers, while excursions along Tacina or Vergari springs are accessible even by the least expert among us. Some of the paths lead directly into the water, meaning swimming is sometimes necessary. And many SSSIs (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) are waiting to be discovered - in Zinga, the Hypogeic Geopark Alto Crotonese, the CEA Villa Daino (Centre for Environmental Experience.
Sea lovers can venture along underwater routes to discover the flora and fauna in the protected area of Isola di Capo Rizzuto and the unique seafloor along the coast, extending from Cirò Marina to Capo Piccolo.
The Province's most famous product is the D.O.C. (registered designation of origin) wine of Cirò.
The bread of Cutro should be mentioned; made with durum wheat, it is so good it is also sold in Italy's northern regions. Among other typical products are pecorino cotronese, made with locally-produced sheep's milk; the suppressata, a typical local salami; and the sardella, also referred to as the caviar of the south, or poor man's caviar, produced by processing fish with hot pepper and wild spices. “Pipi and patati,” on the other hand, is a typical summer dish made with sweet peppers and potatoes sautéed with garlic and olive oil.