Reggio Calabria is situated in the southern part of Italy. You can find it quite easily because it’s the tippy toe of the boot. It’s also one of the main hubs for those looking to get to Sicily, being just a short ferry ride away.
But, Reggio Calabria is so much more than a means to get to Sicily, it has lots to offer its visitors. The city goes back centuries and was one of the most powerful colonies in ancient Magna Graecia, however the Reggio Calabria of today exudes a more modern feel after it was heavily damaged by earthquakes in 1783 and then again in 1908.
Reggio Calabria boasts modern architecture and a panoramic lungomare with picturesque views of the Straits of Messina, nearby Sicily and-on a clear day-smoking Mt. Etna. It’s no wonder it is has been dubbed “Il più bel chilometro d’Italia” (the most beautiful kilometer in Italy).
If you are planning a trip to Calabria or perhaps Sicily, you should consider spending some time in Reggio Calabria. And, to help you out, here are some things you must do when you are there!
Visit the Bronzi di Riace
The famous Bronzes of Riace statues date back to 5th century BC and are thought to have been buried in the Ionion Sea for more than 2,000 years. These well-preserved statues were discovered in 1972 by a diver just off of the coast of Riace and are considered to be the most important Greek Sculptures in the world.
Each statue stands over six and a half feet tall, are so intricately detailed, and yes, so very naked! The Bronzi are housed in the Museo Nazionale in Reggio Calabria, located at Piazza De Nava, 26 in the city centre.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Sunday from 9:00am – 8:00pm (however the Ticket Office closes at 7:30pm).The Museum is closed on Mondays.
Ticket Prices: 8€, 5€ (ages 18-25), Free (under 18 years of age). Prices are reduced on Wednesday: 6€, 4€ (ages 18-25)
Important Information: The Bronzes of Riace Viewing Gallery has a capacity of up to 20 visitors at a time and viewing time may be subject to a 20-minute limit.
Take a Passeggiata on the Lungomare Falcomatà
Reggio Calabria has one of Italy’s most impressive promenades: views of the gorgeous coastline of Sicily across the strait and a boardwalk lined with botanical Palm trees, bars and restaurants.
The passeggiata is quintessentially Italian, and what better way to experience life in Reggio Calabria than a stroll on this beautiful lungomare. Walking along this promenade is an experience that will leave a lasting impression. If the sky is clear and the strait is calm, you won’t only be able to see all the way to Mt. Etna, you may also find yourself enchanted by the Fata Morgana; a mirage, if you will, which can be seen from the Calabrian coast. This optical illusion causes Sicily to be reflected on the water in a way that makes it appear much closer than it actually is. We won’t blame you if you try and reach out to touch it!
Midway along the promenade is the modern-day amphitheater known as Arena Dello Stretto, built in an ancient Greek theater style. This outdoor arena offers some pretty impressive views of the coastline and the Strait of Messina, not to mention it’s a great place to sit and people watch.
Strike a Pose with the Rabarama Statues
Not far from the Arena dello Stretto is the Villa Genoese Zerbi. This historical building is hard to miss with it’s seemingly out of place architecture inspired by 14th Century Venetian Gothic elements. Originally the villa was built in Baroque style but after the earthquake of 1908 destroyed it, it was rebuilt into the villa you see today.
What makes this Villa even more interesting are the statues that surround it. These large contemporary art statues were created by Roman born artist Paola Epifani aka Rabarama and are truly captivating. Her pieces depict the human form in various poses with their skin painted with patterns, letters or symbols. They are both intriguing and unique. Go ahead, strike an interesting pose with them!
Aperitivi or Gelato with a View
After a long walk, you’ll want to take a break and there are many great places to choose from along the lungomare, whether you are craving a gelato or perhaps apertivi. Along the promenade, restaurants and cafes set up gazebos that allow you to enjoy something refreshing while admiring the view. It’s especially beautiful in the evening with the lights of Sicily in the distance.
If you are looking to have an aperitivo, head on over to Sottozero (Corso Vittorio Emanuele III, n.83) where you can sip drinks and have something light to eat. If gelato is more your thing, Sottozero has that, too. Or, you could go to Gelato Cesare (Piazza Indipendenza), which has been around a long time and for good reason! And since you are in Reggio Calabria, land of the Bergamot Orange, why not opt for a scoop of their Bergamot flavor gelato.
Take in an incredible view
The Aragon Castle, located in the city centre of Reggio Calabria, exudes strength and power. Rumored to have originally been built in the 6th Century, the castle has been modified and expanded over the years.
In 1458, Ferdinando I of Aragon commissioned extensive modifications to the castle of which can be seen today. Although the castle has seen some damage after numerous earthquakes, what remains has been restored and can be visited.
Don’t expect a museum or lots of artifacts, the castle is for the most part empty. But, it’s fun to walk around and imagine what it would have been like to live there. And if you make your way up to the top of the tower, you’ll get an amazing view of the city and the Strait. You’ll definitely feel like a King!
Take note that opening times are inconsistent but generally the castle is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00am – 1:00pm and 4:00pm – 6:00pm. The castle is closed on Mondays.
If you are heading to Calabria, or even Sicily, consider spending a day or two in Reggio Calabria. I can even help you plan your time there.