Southern Italy boasts some of the most beautiful beaches and coastlines in Europe – perfect for sunning by the sea, enjoying a drive along the scenic coastal roads or finding that perfect hidden away village. Sicily has stunning beaches and the Amalfi Coast is home to some of the most famous vacation spots in Italy. Savvy travelers are starting to discover the Cilento Coast in Campania, too. Let me introduce you to another beautiful coastline – Calabria’s Riviera dei Cedri.
La Riviera dei Cedri, or the Citron Coast, is a stretch of Calabria’s northern Tyrrhenian coastline dotted with seaside villages. This beautiful area takes its name from the ancient cultivation of the cedro, a large citrus fruit commonly called citron in English. Citrons are still an important local product along the Riviera dei Cedri from Praia a Mare south to Cetraro. This area of Calabria is the perfect environment for growing a special variety of Citron called Cedro Liscio di Diamante, named after the town of Diamante. Known for its large size and intense fragrance the fruit shines in local specialties where it adds its citrus flavor to pasta dishes and liqueurs as well as the traditional candied cedro used in local desserts.
This is the place to head to discover untouched coastlines, quiet villages with hidden away artistic treasures, divine local cooking and a truly authentic taste of the Calabrian lifestyle. Here’s a look at some of the stars of the Riviera dei Cedri in Calabria.
Nestled into the heart of the Riviera dei Cedri, Cirella is a little seaside town just north of Diamante. Like many of the towns along the Riveria dei Cedri, Cirella is a popular summer spot with many beautiful beaches nearby. The water is exquisite and from the beach you can enjoy the view of Cirella Island just off the coastline.
Diamante is known as “The Pearl of the Tyrrhenian” and lies just south of Scalea. It has a colorful historical center accented with many artistic murals, which has given the town the name of the City of Murals as well. In addition to the cedro, Diamante is famous for its rich chili pepper traditions. It is home to the best chili peppers in Calabria and the spicy Peperoncino Festival held here each year in September.
Buried in the heart of ancient Scalea is a once-forgotten token from the Byzantine past. A non-assuming façade of a nearly decimated building hides mosaic wonders that date back to the 3rd Century BC. A small sign indicates the importance of the find, but visitors will likely discover a locked and gated door. Patient tourists can stand outside the door and wait, while more adventurous groups can venture up the next set of stairs to where the family who guards the mosaics lives to ask for a tour.
The southernmost town on the Riviera dei Cedri, Cetraro takes its name from the Latin word Citrarium, referring to the ancient cultivation of the cedro. Cetraro is ideally situated along the coastline offering easy access to beautiful beaches with intensely turquoise blue waters and just inland the Pollino National Park. This coastline is seeped in history from ancient times to the Middle Ages and each little town offers charming streets, beautiful churches and moments of Calabrian life to discover.
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