Catanzaro has it all … we have breathtaking beaches, rugged mountains and an intriguing downtown, to boot. But you already know that … we talked about it yesterday. One thing I didn’t mention, however is that Catanzaro’s central location makes it the ideal base for vacationers who want to tour Calabria.
Catanzaro is 45 minutes from La Sila, 30 minutes from Le Castella and 50 minutes from the freshest porcini mushrooms you’ll ever eat, but just a tad bit farther away … about 2 1/2 hours … is Scalea.
Scalea is one of the more touristy towns in Calabria, however “touristy” is a relative word and well, let it suffice to say that the streets are not yet overrun by foreign tourists, tacky souvenir shops and overpriced hotels. In fact, to prove how un-international this town remains, their website is only available in Italian.
The beaches are some of the best in the area, where diving, paragliding and rafting abound. Click the previous links for more information on any of these activities … sempre in italiano!
Scalea was named for the hundreds of stairs that weave throughout the old town, guiding visitors, step by step, through its history.
The Talao Tower is the symbol of Scalea and once stood proudly on an island with a flowing sulphur spring. Over time, ocean water descended and the tower is now surrounded by sand and connected to modern-day Scalea. The tower was built in conjunction with 337 other towers by Spanish Emperor Carlo V in the 14th Century in a defensive move, protecting the Tyrrhenian Coast from further attacks.
As with most Calabrese towns, Scalea abounds with churches, museums and intriguing artifacts, but the most impressive find in Scalea may be the Byzantine mosaics that date back to 3rd Century. Almost hidden in the intertwining town center, the Byzantine Chapel, with its unassuming facade, instantly transports visitors where they can literally reach out and touch the brightly colored mosaics of Scalea’s past.
An ancient Byzantine-built, Norman-occupied castle is perched on top of Scalea’s old town overlooking the bluest waters in the Tyhrannian Sea. Once the seat of Scalea, where Roger the Norman and Robert the Guiscardo signed the Treaty of Scalea that divided conquered Calabria, the castle is now too dangerous to ascend and visitors must be content to stand near the base and peer up.
With Scalea’s eight kilometers of coastlines, ancient city and preserved past there is something to satisfy even the most discerning traveler’s palate. This easy, and scenic drive from Catanzaro is worth every mile, making Scalea a *must see* on your next Calabrian vacation.