On the southernmost tip of Italy lies the beautiful seaside city of Reggio Calabria. This attractive and well populated city sits right at the edge of the proverbial toe of the boot of Italy, in close proximity to both the Aspromonte Mountains and the Port of Reggio. The city is rich in ancient history and tradition and offers simply stunning sightseeing opportunities, from the craggy peaks of the Aspromonte Mountains to the startling blue waters of the Port of Reggio.
Historically, the city is thought to have been first settled during the third millennium BC and has been occupied over the centuries by more than a dozen different peoples. For this reason, it is thought to be one of the oldest cities in the region of Calabria that can be traced back over thirty-five hundred years. Unfortunately, many of the remains of the ancient civilization have been wiped out by man, nature, and on occasion, an earthquake.
This part of Italy is unique due to its culture and language. As a result of its Greek past, many of the locals still speak a Greek-Calabrian dialect known as Greko. This language can also be heard in the Salento area of the Apulia region.
One of the prized pieces of history found here is the ancient and magnificent Riace Bronzes, which are rare Greek bronze sculptures that have become a symbol of sorts for the city. The famous sculptures can be found on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Magna Graecia and have earned Reggio Calabria the nickname of the City of Bronzes. And yet, Reggio Calabria is also home to so much more that the city itself could be considered one large archeological park. In addition to the Riace Bronzes, travelers can engage with the area’s past by visiting the Hypogeum of Piazza Italia, the Roman Baths, the Greek Walls, the Locri Epizefiri excavations, and much more.
Today, Reggio Calabria is certainly considered to be one of the most populated cities in the region, with nearly two hundred thousand residents living within the city limits of ninety-two square miles, and more than five hundred thirty thousand residents in the metropolitan area.
The city is one of the key economic centers of mainland Southern Italy and the Mediterranean. Fishing is a thriving industry here as well as the exports of fruits, briar, bergamot, and tobacco. Reggio Calabria’s wide cultivation of bergamot has earned it the nickname of City of Bergamot.
Reggio Calabria is somewhat different from most of its Italian counterparts in navigation. The city’s roadways and walkways are quite a bit broader, making them appear less crowded and easier to maneuver. The city has a linear development along the coast with most streets parallel to the shore. From the coast, the city looks like a mass of colorful buildings of various shapes and sizes, very much resembling a still growing metropolitan area. The nearby Aspromonte Mountain peaks and the mesmerizing waters of the Strait of Messina make for beautiful sightseeing from the highest points within the city or on the waters of the Strait of Messina or Ionian Sea.
Reggio Calabria’s cuisine is surprisingly not solely seafood based, but often includes meats in the form of pork or lamb. Many of the area’s desserts and sometimes liqueurs are frequently flavored with locally cultivated bergamot. The city is also known for its production of quality extra virgin olive oil.
The populous city is also somewhat of a college town as it is home to several educational institutions. The University of Reggio Calabria is thought to be the first established university in Calabria. Dante Alighieri is the university for foreigners. The Academy of Fine Arts is considered to be one of the most long-standing of its kind in the region, and among the top of its kind in Southern Italy.
Transportation into and around the city is widely available. Several roadways including the SS18 Naples-Regio, SS106 Reggio-Taranto, and the A2 Salerno-Reggio allow visitors access from other cities in Italy. The nearby Reggio Calabria Airport, sometimes referred to as Aeroporto dell Stretto or Tito Minniti Airport, offers daily domestic flights and some seasonal international flights.
The Port of Reggio provides boat service including regular ferries that come and go several times daily. When traveling within the area, visitors and locals often rely on the Reggio di Calabria Central Railway Station, one of the largest stations in the area, as well as public buses. Despite the availability of public transportation, some locals and visitors prefer to navigate the city on foot.
Reggio Calabria sits at the “toe” of the boot of Italy on the shore of the Strait of Messina. The city’s landscape is fairly diverse as it sits amongst the slopes of the craggy Aspromonte Mountain range, yet opens up to the gorgeous Port of Reggio and the Ionian Sea.
The outskirts of the city are surrounded by immense natural beauty, including the majestic Aspromonte Mountains and the ever-changing colors of the waters of the Port of Reggio, which explain the city’s other nickname of The Rainbow of Italy.
Not far from the city is the Aspromonte National Park, which is located in the southern part of the Apennine Mountains in Calabria. The park features mountain peaks of up to sixty-five hundred feet, is home to several waterways, and is a sanctuary of sorts for a variety of fir, oak, chestnut, and pine trees as well as animal species such as the eagle, peregrine falcon, and wolf.
The Port of Reggio is a thriving Mediterranean seaport that offers picturesque views of the Strait of Messina, which separates Reggio Calabria from the island of Sicily and opens up into the Ionian Sea. Tourists often enjoy sunning at a few of the city’s picturesque beaches while watching the boats and ferry service go by.
With such a southern location and with half of the city opening up to the waters of the Strait of Messina, it is no surprise that Reggio Calabria enjoys a widely Mediterranean climate. On average, travelers can bask in comfortable weather here almost year round.
As is with Mediterranean climates, the city is treated to far more warm days than cold ones, with a median high temperature of eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Lows consistently hover around the mid-forties during the winter months.
While the city does experience precipitation throughout the year, the winter months are considered to be far rainier than the remainder of the year. Partially for this reason, summer is one of the best seasons to visit the beautiful outdoors of Reggio Calabria.
WHEN IN REGGIO CALABRIA
One of Reggio Calabria’s most distinguishing characteristics is that of Fata Morgana, an unusual mirage effect that is not exactly uncommon for the area. The mirage is observed in the Strait of Messina and occurs when light rays are strongly inflected by passing through air layers at different temperatures. This means that as the temperatures vary throughout the day, so will the mirage.
If standing upon the shores of Reggio Calabria and looking out over the Strait of Messina at the island of Sicily, the mirage reflects distorted images on the water which is said to make things appear closer and more clearly for a short time. In some cases, onlookers have said that during the mirage they could see specific items on the shore of Sicily such as houses and cars.
The Fata Morgana has an interesting legend that many believe to be true still today. Legend has it that a victorious king arrived on the shore of Reggio Calabria and stood gazing over the waters of the Strait of Messina, wondering how he could reach the distant shore. Shortly after, Fata Morgana, famous in Celtic Mythology, used her powers to create the mirage making the island of Sicily appear only a few short feet away. This change encouraged the king to willingly throw himself into the water since the island appeared to be just a few swimming strokes away. In reality, his vision was just a mirage and he is said to have sadly drowned in the Strait of Messina. To this day, the city of Reggio Calabria is sometimes referred to as the City of Fata Morgana.
The Mediterranean getaway of Reggio Calabria holds natural treasures of the nearby Aspromonte Mountains and deep blue waters of the port. It also offers mystifying and captivating phenomena such as The Fata Morgana. Pack your bags and travel to the shores of Southern Italy to bask in the warm sun of Reggio Calabria and set out on a fabulous Italian adventure.
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