In the middle of the southern heart of the Region of Calabria, south of Cosenza and north of Reggio Calabria, Vibo Valentia is a little peninsula on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its roots are lost in Antiquity; a city of culture, it offers beautiful, untamed places alive with history.
The Province includes 50 municipalities and extends over the Tyrrhenian coast and through the Serre Mountains, including the great farm district of the Poro plateau. Vibo Valentia was originally the Greek colony of Hypponion until 192 AD. The province was established in 1992 and owes its charm to the cobalt blue sea and the verdant plateaus backdropped by the Serre Mountains.
The Gulf of Sant' Eufemia to the north and the Gulf of Gioia Tauro to the south are surrounded by hills and mountains. The pure natural landscape has been cultivated only by the hands of local farmers. Vibo Valentia's spectacular panoramic views span from orderly, yet shady olive groves and scented cornfields to orange and lemon groves offering their aromatic fruits all year long. Not only, but imagine, if you can, hillside vineyards, oscillating cane fields blown by the sea breeze, and the amazing scent of flowering orange blossoms during hot summer nights.
As one moves place to place, it is easy to make one charming discovery after another. For instance, the Costa degli Dei, a rugged coastline full of rocky inlets and sandy spots, noentheless is never the same, . The hinterland is dominated by the Serre Massif, and by forests thick in conifers, beechwoods, brooks, wide valleys and green plateaus.
Vibo Valentia's Medieval historic center has been maintained in excellent condition, with yellow tuff monumental buildings and streets paved with big lava rocks.
Here, the bell tower of San Michele stands out in the city, and is entirely dominated by the Norman Castle, most likely erected on the site of the Hypponion acropolis. The castle houses the State Archaeological Museum, with one of the most precious finds from the Hellenic past: the Laminetta Aurea, a golden lamina bearing the oldest Orpheus text found in Italy.
Going down the coast, one reaches Pizzo, a small Medieval city situated right on the sea. Its historical center is a maze of alleyways running into its main piazza, a meeting place during the summer nights. The little Church of Piedigrotta, dug into the tuff, is also a local attraction. Pizzo is one of the most famous seaside resorts in Catanzaro Province, along with Tropea and Capo Vaticano.
Moving south, we reach Briatico, an ancient settlement that, according to tradition, was set up by the Greeks of Locri. It is dotted with Medieval finds, and it is certainly one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the Province. Zambrone, Parghelia, Ioppolo and Nicotera pop up one after the other along the coastline.
Tropea is one of the most beautiful towns on the area. As myth recounts, it was settled by Hercules, who reached these shores from Spain. Other sources say it was settled by Scipio Africanus on his way back to Rome after having defeated Carthage. In reality, the city bears Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Suevian, Angevin and Aragonese traces.
Further inland, Filadelfia draws many visitors heading for the nearby Angitola Lake. The Certosa di Serra San Bruno is a very important and renowned monumental monastic settlement founded by Bruno of Cologne at the end of the 1100s. It is an authentic oasis marked by peace, nature, art and religious quiet, and is one of the favorite destinations of local tourists. Finally, Mileto, lastly, is another town with strong signs of religious devotion, particularly its Benedictine Abbey della Trinità and its Cathedral.
The wonderful Costa degli Dei is a paradise for water sports. Underwater excusions offer the chance to see unique seafloors and beautiful sea fauna. Kitesurf and windsurf are often practiced here thanks to the local seawater and winds.
The Province's inland, with its thick woods and its beautiful nature, is a perfect destination for trekking lovers. One of the best known villages is Capo Vaticano, with a typical Calabrese torrent surrounded by lush, rich vegetation including, over 300 plant species.
Grottoes and what are known as "friars' paths" in nearby Tropea are also worth a visit; it ispossible to explore them either on horseback or by way of bicycle trekking. Varying landscapes offer unique locations to observe the flora and fauna, and the area ecotourism valorizes and celebrates Tropea's natural endowments, especially the parks and wildlife reserves. Vibo Valentia also attracts birdwatchers year-round.
Finally, exhibitions, shows and festivals promote local communities' traditions, local customs and typical tastes.
History and culture condition the Province of Vibo Valentia's traditional gastronomic delights, rich in tastes referring to agriculture, sheep farming and fishing.
The main products here are marmalade, tuna, olive oil, chestnuts, mushrooms, and sweets.
Nevertheless, the delicacies par excellence are ’Nduja of Spilinga (a tender salami), the fileja (handmade, fresh egg pasta rolled in long braids) and the gelato of Pizzo.