Reggio Calabria History
The city’s foundations date back to the colonization of the Magna Graecia, around the 8th century BC, when the Greek expanded their empire, commercially and politically, along the shores of the Ionian Sea. It seems, however, that the site was inhabited by the italic populations.
Rhegion, as it was called, reached the peak of its political, cultural and commercial power towards the end of the fifth century BC, under the tyranny of Anassilao. After his death and the supremacy of the Syracunsans, Rhegion declined and it was destroyed.
It arose again twenty years later and, as Rome’s faithful ally against Pirro and Cartagine, it became a Roman Municipium and took the name of the Rhegium Julii.
For a long time it maintained the language and the Hellenic traditions and resisted many invasions after the fall of the Roman Empire and even reinforced itself during the Byzantine period.
In the 10th century Reggio was plundered and conquered on many occasions by the Saracens who came from Sicily. When the Normans arrived and conquered the area there was a return to normalization. From that time on the city followed the vicissitudes of Southern Italy. It was, in turn: Sveva, Aragonese, Angioina, Spanish, Bourbon, and also French for a while in the early 19th century. During those long centuries the city had its ups and downs: raids from pirates, earthquakes and a terrible plague. In the 1783, Reggio was totally destroyed by an earthquake, and it was after that, that the city reached the current layout.
In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi disembarked, along with his Mille (thousand) soldiers, at Melito Porto Salvo, 20 Km south of Reggio. After a short battle in Piazza Duomo, the bourbon garrison surrendered. This was the beginning of the quick march of the “hero of two worlds” towards the famous “meeting of Teano”. The Kingdom of Italy had come into being.
Another earthquake destroyed Reggio in 1908 and later the Second World War caused further damage.