Tonnara di Palmi, the pearl of Calabria
14 July 2022
A coastal amphitheater
The beach is protected by Monte Sant’Elia tall behind it. It’s a coastal offshoot of the Aspromonte massif, known as “the balcony on the Tyrrhenian” and is shaped like a crouching lion.
It is bordered to the south by a series of islets. The most notable is the celebrated Scoglio dell’Ulivo, symbol of the entire coastline. To the north it is bordered by a small port where local fishermen sell their freshly caught fish.
The ancient Tonnara di Palmi overlooks a stretch of the lower Tyrrhenian Sea famous for its seabed. Sand or tiny pebbles: it is the tides that decide what consistency the beach takes. With views of the Aeolian and Sicily, the stretch of beach is almost 2 kilometres long. Its striking pale colour is due to the mixture of gravel and sand.
The purple sea that bewitched Plato
Tonnara beach is one of the main attractions of Palmi, an area populated since the times of Magna Graecia. Costa Viola is a city of sea and beaches, of art and culture. It is one of the most beautiful coasts in all of Calabria. This is where Italy seems to want to reach out and touch Sicily, and the green mountains descend into the blue sea waters.
The almost surreal purple colour that distinguishes the coast is caused by the play of light and reflection of the mountains filtered by the sulfurous particles emitted by the Stromboli volcano.
It is said that the purple coast owes its name to the Greek philosopher Plato who described it in these terms: “Everything is tinged with different shades of purple, giving life every evening, with its spectacular reflections, to a vision always new”.
The majestic olive tree
Returning to Tonnara di Palmi. The Scoglio dell’Ulivo is best known for the tree that stands on a rock in front of the beach that can be reached by swimming. In these parts they call it “A Luvareddhra” in the local dialect, pronounced along the lines of “olivarella”. According to botanists, the tree is more than 400 years old, and grew spontaneously there. It’s now a skeleton, curved and petrified by salt, rain and wind, a sculpture that nature shaped over the course time.
Between beaches and caves
La Tonnara offers various leisure possibilities to tourists arriving here: it has equipped lidos or open beach. You can sunbathe and indulge in your choice of relaxation. The surrounding waters are clear turquoise blue. irresistible to those who love snorkeling or diving. Palmi is home to a very well equipped diving centre.
The surrounding coast perhaps deserves to be discovered on a boat trip. There are many sea caves hidden between the beaches and islets: among the best known are, grotta delle Sirene, grotta dell’Arcudace and grotta Perciata, set in amongst the rocks of the coast.
Discovering the hinterland
Even the area around Palmi offers a rich variety of excursions. There are walking paths and circuits for the two wheeler fans, to reach a higher altitude for a change of air and perspective. While the different cycling routes are mostly suitable for trained cyclists, walking trails are for most everyone.
An excursion to not miss out on is the Tracciolino. This panoramic path connects Palmi to Bagnara Calabra, one of the most attractive trekking routes of the region. Located between Tirreno and the mountainous tail end of the Aspromonte National Park, between sky and sea. The Tracciolino path is a surprising succession of rocky terrain, endowed with the colours and scents of the Mediterranean scrub, overlooking the views of the Costa Viola.
The Tauriani Archaeological Park, in Taureana di Palmi, is a must for all lovers of cultural tourism. Here you’ll find a Paleochristian crypt and the church of San Fantino, the oldest place of worship in Calabria. You’ll be captivated by the myths, legends and stories of buried treasures of the monastic-Byzantine rock settlement and the Neolithic Tarditi caves.