Reggio Calabria - View
Known in the past as "Calabria Ulteriore Prima", the province of Reggio Calabria has the highest population density of the Region. It is located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, between the seaside mitigating the temperatures and the mountains of a land rich in flavours and colours. On the west it overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, on the south and the east the Ionian Sea; it borders with Catanzaro on the north-east and with Vibo Valentia on the north-west. On the south-west it faces Sicily, just 3.2 kilometres across the Strait of Messina.
The territory is characterized by thick woods of chestnuts, beeches, holm oaks and white firs, which alternate to the olive and vine cultivations, secular torrents and overhanging coasts covered by ferns, brooms, strawberry trees, myrtles, oleander and Indian figs. The coast between Villa S. Giovanni and Gioiosa Ionica is the ideal habitat for the cultivation of the bergamot.
From the mountains to the sea, the torrents are a peculiarity of the province. Their flow, even if short, moves on various levels of depth, creating wide depressions in the ground. The biggest torrent of the grecanic area is the Amendolea, which flows in Condofuri Marina, drawing an enormous silver band of pebbles coasted by citrus trees and broom. The Locride area is also full of torrents, as the La Verde, between Bianco and Samo, characterized by spectacular gorges.
Another characteristic is the area of the Tyrrhenian coast, with terracings built on the hills overhanging the sea. This expanse is called Costa Viola, due to the reflections that, especially at sunset, colour the sea. Most of the area of Reggio is formed by the National Park of Aspromonte, with hectares of forests of pine trees on the Tyrrhenian side and beech woods on the Ionian one.
Finally, the area of Tauro, famous for the production of clementines, has a great variety of landscapes. The Piana of Gioia Tauro comprises very fertile lands, thanks to the drainage started in 1818 by the marquise Nunziata and continued by the State during the following decade.
The historical vicissitudes deeply marked this province, and are still reflected by its artistic heritage of inestimable value. Ideal halts among the localities belonging to the Norman-Byzantine spirituality are the Basilica of S. Giovanni Teresì of Bivongi and the Gerace Cathedral.
There are also very prestigious residences, like Villa Caristo in Stignano, built in the 18th century, Villa di Palazzi in Casignana, which today houses a nearly integral floor mosaic, or the wonderful Villa del Naniglio in Gioiosa Jonica. In the small centres, it is still possible to discover artisan traditions like the ceramics of Seminara. Here, according to the popular beliefs, the apotropaic masks were used to keep the malignant spirits away. Even the ancient tradition of the procession of the broom deserves to be observed with a certain admiration.
Reggio Calabria is famous worldwide for the Riace Bronzes, hosted from 1981 in its Archaeological Museum, established in 1882, while the Cathedral is dated back to its founding by Saint Paul. On the main altar visitors admire the Madonna della Consolazione, patron of the capital. A ritual, which takes place since 1636, prescribes that, on the first Saturday after the 8th of September, 100 men at a time, under the 10 tons of the Vara, bring the Venerated Effigy from the Hermitage to the Cathedral, where it stays until the Sunday following the 21st of November, feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when it is brought back to its usual location.
Mythology and history meet in Scilla, protruding towards the Messina Strait with its rock dominated by the Ruffo Castle. In the grecanic area the municipality of Bova, Condofuri, Gallicianò, Roccaforte del Greco, Roghudi are those with the most evident traces of the Magna-Graecia culture. Furthermore, Bova is dominated by the ruins of the Norman Castle.
The ancient village of Brancaleone Superiore shows the ruins of the castle and of the church dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunziata. Along the main road of Stati, in the district of Batia, there are the remains of the Norman-Byzantine abbey of Santa Maria of Tridetti. The sacred and documental heritage is preserved in the Angelo Versace Museum in Bagnara Calabra, with an interesting archaeological section.
In Bagnara don’t miss the Torre Saracena tower. In Locri there are precious archaeological remains of the Marasà and Greek Temples. The Cattolica of Stilo is an imposing byzantine church which dominates in the medieval centre. Gioia Tauro, once Matauros, comprises an archaeological area and an archaic necropolis in the district of Pietra. Some of the villages of the area are characterized by Medieval hamlets and noble palaces, like Oppido Mamertina in Scido, housing the Civiltà Contadina Museum. Every year, in August, the procession in period costume replicates the visit of emperor Charles V in Seminara back in 1535.
The mix of sea and mountain makes the province of Reggio Calabria a paradise for activities in tight contact with nature. Here, art and culture interweave in a succession of symbols and popular traditions, and relive in the folk events linked to the religiousness which characterize the area of the province of Reggio.
Birdwatching is favoured in the grecanic area, inhabited by different species of birds, among which the black woodpecker, the eagle, the harrier eagle and the honey buzzard known as adorno, that move from Africa to Europe through the Straits of Messina to nest in springtime. Photography experts have a wide range of choice.
The Fogliatelle waterfalls form in the territory of Samo, while the magnificent Marmarico waterfalls, among the highest and suggestives of Italy, are in the municipality of Bivongi. The bareness of some area allowed the diffusion of the broom. A fibre is extracted from its branches used for the manufacture of underwear and furniture accessories. The flora is quite varied and well appreciated by fond biowatchers.
In the National Park of Aspromonte the most widespread fauna comprises: follow deer, wild boar, fox, roe deer, badger, sparrow hawk, hawk, and kingfisher. The wolf, considered as disappeared for several years, was then found again in 1988. There are also several sources of mineral and sulphurous waters, as those in Zomaro and Galatro, a modern thermal establishment. In the internal areas, it is possible to undertake horseback and trekking excursions.
In the Aspromonte area, the touristic centre Gambarie offers over 10km of ski slopes and ski lifts, making this location one of the favourite destinations for the Sicilian and Calabrian skiers. Many diving and snorkelling experts reach Costa Viola, where seabeds, at few metres from the beach and at some metres of depth, offer a real submerged paradise made of caves, sea fans and sponges’ colonies, and oases of posidonia. An almost uncontaminated habitat housing an infinity of fishes and molluscs.
The gastronomy of Reggio can be described as a reminiscence of a simple art made of strong sensations and traditions, handed down from generation to generation and linked to the abundant use of hot pepper. The most famous charcuteries are the soppressata, the capicollo, the filetti and the 'nduja.
Other traditional dishes are the traditional cheeses, the rosamarina, known as the "caviar of the South" (young sardine with chilly pepper), and the extra virgin olive oil. The art of conserves is very typical of this province: tomato sauce, mushrooms, aubergines, tuna and other products bring the flavours and the colours of the vegetable garden to the table.
The Aspromonte area offers many varieties of mushrooms, which made Giffone the main production and processing centre. The grecanic area, instead, is still linked to ancient Magna Graecia and its main products come from the process of the pork meat, from the use of the goat meat for the roasts and sauces, and from the processing of fresh and ripe cheeses.
Traditions like home-made pasta and the corn bread cooked in the wood ovens built aside the houses are still alive. The swordfish, fished from April to September, is the symbol of the Tyrrhenian coast together with the “bluefish”, taken to the port by fishermen every day.
Ancient autochthon vines allow the production of white and red wines like the Zibibbo and the Cerasuolo. The Greco di Bianco D.O.C., flagship of the entire Locride area, is considered one of the most valuable Italian dessert wines, to accompany dry confectionery and almond pastries. In the capital, the vegetables represent the main ingredients for most of the different preparations (parmigiana, peperonata, filled peppers and tomatoes, fried aubergine flowers).
The local patisserie is very famous (torrone, cannoli with ricotta cheese, “pignolata”, tartine di sanguinaccio, pastries with bergamot, marmalades, marzipan or “morticeddi”), and so are the home-made ice-creams.
Finally, in the area of Tauro, flour, honey, almonds and mulled wine are the ingredients of the “nzuddhe”, typical pastries prepared on popular festivities. Let’s not forget the good quality of the oil produced in the local olive presses and of the oranges cultivated in the “Piana”.
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