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Statale 106

6 Days Tour

Statale 106

per person

In a bizarre interpretation of the geographical map, if you turn Italy, Calabria is the end of the Boot – the Italian Peninsula – and it seems to kick Sicily! Two long state roads – 18 and 106 – run along the coastlines. Tourists have to cross them to contemplate amazing maritime landscapes, and to visit hilly towns too (there is a sequence of marvelous villages).

East Coast Tour in Calabria, visiting Ionian side where Magna Grecia was born

We’ll reach Catanzaro, first, and then Roccella Jonica (since Day 3) to sleep. They are two good “base camp” to explore Ionian Coast. Catanzaro is the region capital. Roccella is a splendid town in the southern East Coast of Calabria.

Six days tour in Calabria, to visit the most important monuments

We’ll be in Taverna di Catanzaro, birthplace of Mattia Preti, a great Calabrian painter in the XVII century, commended in Rome, Naples, Malta. We’ll be also in Le Castella to visit the medieval fortress erected on a strange small island. East Coast Tour in Calabria has its appropriate icon: the column of Capo Colonna. You’ll see the column symbolizing the splendors of Magna Graecia. Scolacium is a well-organized archaeological park, an invaluable Roman heritage.

The deep South of Italy, the best places to see

Running miles to South, you’ll bump into places like Monasterace museum and Badolato, a welcoming and lovely village. The valley of Stilaro fiumara is a perfect scenery to shoot spaghetti western, but we will go to the Cattolica, the most famous monument in Stilo – and also in the monastery of san Giovanni Theristis in Bivongi – both icons of the golden age of hermit monks in the Early Middle Ages. The divine mosaics in the roman villa of Casignana are a Must See Place, an unexpected treasure, together with the town of Gerace, sumptuous, elegant, magic place. Last stops in Pentedattilo, an abandoned village circumscribed by cyclopic rocks, and then, the grand finale… in Reggio Calabria, to meet the Bronzes found on the sea bottom of Riace.

  • Departure
    It's convenient to book a direct flight to Calabria (Lamezia Terme sant'Eufemia airport). Then, you spend about 30 minutes by car or bus transfer to reach the hotel in Catanzaro. We suggest the area of Catanzaro Lido. At the end of Day 3 we move to the hotel in Roccella Jonica. You can also reach Calabria by bus or by train. For your comfort, it's better to reach the transport hub of Lamezia and there you should rent a car or bus.
  • Dress Code
    You should wear sports shoes, you will often walk on cobblestones of the historic centers or archeological parks. In spring-summer-autumn the sunny beaches of our destinations invite you to relax on the shoreline. So we suggest you to bring a beach towel (and a change of clothes) on the bus, and also sandals, a sun cream.
  • Included
    Food Tasting
    Licensed tourist guide
    Radio whispers, receivers appropriate for listening in the museums, in crowded places and for better social distancing, as the WHO recommends
    Umbrellas if necessary (also parasol)
  • Not Included
    Hotel, accomodations
    Lunch, dinner
    Museum tickets
    Parking tickets
Flight, SCOLACIUM archeological park, village of Taverna (a few MATTIA PRETI's masterpieces)

Statue of Mattia Preti in a central square in Taverna

A good plan is to book a flight to LAMEZIA TERME – morning landing and then quick transfer to CATANZARO hotel (Catanzaro Lido, on Strada Statale 106, is a comfortable accommodation area). We start East Coast Tour in Calabria with a charming place, Scolacium, situated in Roccelletta di Borgia. A wealthy roman colony grew up there, today you see fascinating remains of the main square – the forum – and also the theatre and the amphitheatre. They are in the middle of an olive grove. Museum is very educational to understand Romans’ city planning and way of living. Lunch at the hotel or restaurant. Transfer to the village of Taverna di Catanzaro. Here the city museum, arranged inside the old dominican convent, is the art exhibition of Mattia Preti. Other splendid works are in the church of San Domenico and other sacred buildings. He learnt techniques, styles, painting expertise observing Caravaggio, Guercino and others. His brother, Gregorio Preti, was also an excellent painter. Mattia Preti created masterpieces – characterized by realism – a smart chiaroscuro is often the sublime key to highlight the scene. We could examine some astonishing works. Mattia Preti is almost always praised by critics, considered the brightest star of the art made in Calabria, in XVII century. Scolacium ticket: 5 euros per person. Taverna museum: 5 euros per person. We're going to check if there are discounts and free pass.

Le Castella, the medieval fortress

We think it’s better to start from Capo Colonna archaeological park, to admire a great “figure” – symbol of the Great Greece (Magna Grecia age) beyond the real, old, geographical Greece: the column of Capo Colonna. The only vertical remains of a big temple dedicated to Hera Lacinia. It is the only one standing in Calabria! In the 5th century BC. the temple of Hera Lacinia, which had six column on the short side, was also an excellent visual reference for sailors. The name of Lacinia comes from the legend of the foundation of nearby Crotone, a large city of Magna Grecia. Lacinio was a man who lived on this promontory, and was the protagonist of the theft of Hercules' oxen (those of the tenth effort). Hercules was with his oxen grazing on these lands, with the permission given by his friend Crotone. When the theft took place, Hercules, angry, went looking for the animals, but in the dark of the woods he accidentally killed Crotone who wanted to help him. So he predicted that a city of that name would be founded here. Yummy lunch at Le Castella, a Ionian postcard. The evocative fortress, close to the shore, looks like a giant sand castle. Count Andrea Carafa, in XVI century, commissioned a building renovation – the current appearance, more or less. Last night in Catanzaro. Capo Colonna and Le Castella: now free entry, may change.
BADOLATO + Monasterace marina (ANTICA KAULON park and museum)

Monasterace, Kaulon. Dragons, dolphins, sea horses.

Cultural travel on Statale 106 is a collection of villages, monuments, museums, parks, attractions. Badolato is a slow tourism destination, an old village with bunches of buildings, where community tries to resist to depopulation. It is a social group of good feelings, foreign vacationers want to have a very close relationship with the local people. German director Wim Wenders chose Badolato to tell a beautiful story: the short movie Il Volo is based on the coming of some immigrants – by boat – that gave vitality again to the place. Traditional lunch – we could organize a home restaurant session – and then we’ll go to Monasterace marina, to visit Ancient Kaulon museum and archaeological site. There are sensational finds, mosaics covered for 2000 years – you can appreciate the gorgeous Mosaico del Drago, a sort of colored dragon that looks awesome. It's really impressive the floor of an old spa area, where baths and saunas were taken. You must see dragons, dolphins, sea horses illustrated in the mosaic. Check in at the hotel in Roccella Jonica. Kaulon museum entrance ticket: 4 euros per person. We're going to check if you can pay less, special offer or discount.
The village of STILO, the monastery of san Giovanni Theristis in BIVONGI and the cave sanctuary of monte Stella

Bivongi, monastery of san Giovanni Theristis

Byzantine culture – institutions, customs, ways of living, praying, cooking – that germinated during Eastern Roman Empire, pervaded this area, the valley of Stilaro fiumara. The Cattolica is a little cube-shaped chapel, framed by splendid tiny domes. That was the meeting place for hermits to pray. It is nestled in the rock, slope of mount Consolino. The building facades are brilliant, thanks to cotto tiles very polished – from orange shade to light brown. Lunch at the restaurant. Then we have two options. In Bivongi there is an attractive monastery we want to show you. It's dedicated to s. Giovanni Theristis – a monk thaumaturge – and today an Orthodox Christian group from Romania is living there. We’ll get the chance to discover their spiritual world and the connections with byzantine rituals. Otherwise, we can think of a visit to the Marian sanctuary of monte Stella in the village of Pazzano. You go down inside a very suggestive cave. You can follow both itineraries only if you reduce the time of your lunch break. Cattolica entrance ticket: 4 euros per person. We're going to check if you can pay less, special offer or discount. Cave sanctuary: 1 euro.
Roman mosaics in CASIGNANA + village of GERACE

Casignana, Nereid on floor mosaic

In Casignana there was a wide structured residence – the owner probably was an important bureaucrat. This powerful man had a luxury “accommodation” decorated with precious mosaics in some locations. Colored tiny tiles compose wonderful scenes, like in the Nereids’ Room. Between the 3rd and 4th century AD here we had the growth of a large spa. We’ll move to Gerace to lunch. It is one of the finest villages in Calabria, it was a bishop seat, it had an eminent past. People called it “the one hundred churches village” – you will understand why! From Tribuna square you can analyze the elegant and majestic lines of the apses. Central apse is the way in to the huge and magnificent cathedral – erected by Norman engineers, influenced by byzantine workers and re-used selected material. Notice in the nave the singularity in each column. They come from different temples and other buildings. Museum inside, a sort of display of the bishop's wealth and of the church of Gerace, is brighten up by a superb Fleming tapestry. Ticket villa Casignana: 3 euros. Entrance to the diocesan museum and cathedral: 2 euros per person. We're going to verify if there are lower fares for groups.

Bronzo A staring at you... national archaeological museum of Reggio Calabria

  Yes, Pentedattilo is an abandoned world. A lacerated identity. It seems to be hosted in a palm of… a gigantic rock hand! The “fingers” of mount Calvario tickle the blue sky. Impressive. Crazy rocky view. Some blazoned families ruled here, for centuries. A shocking story is about the Alberti dynasty. The baron of Montebello in the XVII century planned a terrifying massacre, he wanted to kill all the relatives of his loved woman, Antonia Alberti from Pentedattilo. Lunch at the restaurant, we will be in front of the Strait of Messina; the waterfront of Reggio Calabria is a fabulous overlook (you see the erupting Etna on Sicilian side). We're going to visit the archaeological museum – the exciting house of the Magna Graecia. In palazzo Piacentini (the museum) we'll make a meaningful itinerary from prehistoric times to Greek Colonization. Locri, Sibari, Crotone, Reggio, the first colonies, their growth and decline. Then the spin-off foundations, on Tyrrhenian Coast. Who were the Bronzes of Riace? Warriors? We’ll investigate, like true detectives. The enigmatic episode when some people tried to fish them out of the sea, the restoration and the removal of so much clay inside, the outfit reconstruction, the stories about myths involving them. Then transfer to airport, Lamezia Terme or Reggio Calabria.   Reggio museum: full ticket 8 euros (5 euros from 18 to 25 years old, free pass for UE citizens under 18). You get a special discount all Wednesdays: full ticket 6 euros, 4 euros the reduced one.