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Alto Tirreno Cosentino, Orsomarso mountains

Arco Magno is the amazing gateway to Calabria, the best welcome for tourists

The coastal road SS 18, connecting Maratea and Basilicata to Calabria, is a splendid view.
You will feel the seaside appeal of Tortora, Praia a Mare and Scalea beaches – and then you’ll finally meet the promised land of tourists, landscape lovers and boat trips:
the small beach, with cave, of Arco Magno in San Nicola Arcella. A very popular option for boat excursions.

A small wild island: Dino

It seems like an enormous cetacean beached on the Calabrian coast.
That’s the Dino island, attached to the long and well-equipped beach of Praia.
It is an islet that is a destination for scuba diving enthusiasts.

The cave art in Calabria

Take a walk on the shoreline, if you look towards the hill, you will notice the presence of so many rocky blocks (they are natural cliffs), some hosting huge cavities. These were refuges of human groups since prehistoric times.
Going about thirty kilometers inland, from Scalea, following Papasidero direction, you arrive at Grotta del Romito on whose “door” there is the boulder with the most famous rock engraving: the Bos Primigenius.

The Bos Primigenius was etched between 10 thousand and 20 thousand years ago, when some local “artists” wanted to communicate something: it is an uro, a big extinct bovine which was hunted and maybe, for the men living in the Upper Paleolithic, considered as a totemic figure.

Cedar supremacy

Alto Tirreno Cosentino coastline – from Praia a Mare to Capo Bonifati further south – is often identified by journalists as Riviera dei Cedri (Cedars Riviera).
This is due to the cultivation of cedar in some particular areas. A characteristic fruit of these places, precious, sought after.
In Santa Maria del Cedro – the land of green gold! – cedar is cultivated with special care because some of the fruits will be selected directly by rabbis of Israel.
The religious authorities go this far to choose the indispensable specimens for the Feast of Sukkot, celebrated in October.


Diamante, in the Province of Cosenza, is the city of Murales and location of the richest chilli pepper Festival in Italy, destination for spicy enthusiasts, scholars and exhibitors from all over the world in September.
The ancient village streets are enhanced by the colors of street art and wall paintings impressed there in 1981 (first edition inspired by the genius of Nani Razetti).
The collective artistic performance goes on, year by year, new imaginative artists change Diamante’s face.

Orsomarso mounts, Lao river and exciting rafting

Crossing the SS 18 – going from the plain near the Lao river mouth to many kilometers further south, almost as far as Lamezia – you can see the mountains and hills very close to the sea.
A provincial road (SP 263) starts from the area around Belvedere Marittimo, quite winding in some points, it goes towards the hinterland. Along SP 263 you meet Passo dello Scalone – which conventionally divides the Orsomarso Mountains from the Coastal Range (Catena Costiera or Paolana).
The Orsomarso Mountains are the last “branch” – if we analyze it from a geological point of view – of the Apennine chain that forms the border between Basilicata and Calabria.
These mountains are also commonly classified as Dorsale del Pellegrino – since Cozzo del Pellegrino is the highest peak (1987 meters).
The practice of rafting in kayaks and in sturdy rubber boats is something special, a great tourist and sporting attraction.
Departure stations are situated around Papasidero.
Sportsmen and explorers are led by specialized instructors – in the Lao riverbed.
The canyons, that can be crossed by kayak, allow awesome descents through the rapids (level: medium difficulty).
Participants are helped with all equipment and safety devices. Fun guaranteed.

Arco Magno beach

When you are along Strada Statale 18, you have to turn when you see Strada Provinciale 1, following direction S. Nicola Arcella, then pay attention to the signs for Arcomagno resort.

You can go by car or by motorbike up to a certain point, then you access the beach walking through a path (up and down); in summer it is difficult to find parking. Since 2022 you have to pay ticket for staying on the Arco Magno beach (a time slot decided by municipality).

Grotta del Romito (Bos Primigenius engraving)

Along Strada Statale 18 in Scalea you must turn to reach Papasidero.
You’ll travel about 35 km: a small part of this way is on Strada Provinciale 9, another part is on a country road towards Papasidero, which runs parallel to the Strada Provinciale 10 next to the Lao river, and then joins the Strada Provinciale 3 that climbs towards Papasidero. It is necessary to go beyond the small village and pay attention to the signs indicating ‘Grotta del Romito’. Some roads are country roads, paved but a little bumpy.
Alternatively, If you are on the A2 highway, take note about Mormanno exit, from here you have to follow SP3 until the cave where you’ll find the Bos.

You pay a ticket to visit the cave, excavated by archaeologists. At the entrance to the site, there you find the boulder engraved with Bos Primigenius. There is also an antiquarium (some rooms hosting display cabinets), and toilet facilities.