This is part of our ongoing series of Wanderlust Women City Guides. We hope they offer you useful tidbits of information as you plan your solo journey to some of the most interesting places around the world.
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Our guest writer today is a good old Texas girl, Cherrye Moore who now calls Calabria home.
It’s only a matter of time before Calabria, and its largest city, Reggio di Calabria, become a household name to non Italian-American families. The seaside town has been called an up-and-coming destination and more often than ever travelers are choosing to explore this city as more than a just stopping point on the way to Sicily.
1. Top 3 Attractions:
1. Il Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria (specifically, I Bronzi di Riace) – In 1972, men diving off of the coast of Riace in the province of Reggio Calabria discovered two 6 ½ feet Greek statues that date back to 450 BC. The bronze statues, once thought to have been lost at sea, are now two of Reggio Calabria’s most famous citizens. They are normally on display in the Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria, but as of the time of this writing, have been transferred to the nearby Palazzo Campanella during museum renovations.
2. Lungomare – After the famous bronze soldiers, Reggio Calabria is most known for its 4-kilometer long waterfront promenade that was touted by Italian poet Gabriele d’Annuzio as being “the most beautiful kilometer in Italy.” Not only does the lungomare lie between the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean and green botanical gardens, but on a clear day visitors can see all the way to Mt. Etna in nearby Sicily.
3. The Duomo – Reggio’s Duomo (a/k/a – The Cathedral of Reggio Calabria) was completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1908 and was rebuilt shortly thereafter in the Romanesque style on the site of its Norman predecessor. It is especially impressive at dusk when the lights cast a golden glow onto the cathedral.
Seafood rules this waterfront town and there is no shortage of restaurants with terraces that overlook the Straits of Messina. A particularly well-known restaurant is Baylik (Vico Leone, 1, Reggio Calabria, Tel: 0965 486 24) a local favorite that has been open since the 1950s and features fresh seafood and pasta.
There are many types of accommodations in Reggio Calabria, from 4 star hotels to family-run B & Bs, to meet all budgets and requests. One of my favorites is Suite 70 , a luxury B&B / boutique hotel located on Corso Garibaldi, just a few steps from Reggio’s waterfront.
EDITOR’s NOTE: Or travel about 160km (about 96 miles) north to Catanzaro, Calabria for some Texas hospitality with an Italian flair at Cherrye’s Il Cedro B & B.
Like other seaside towns in southern Italy, the city comes alive on summer nights when locals, visitors and solo travelers head to any number of seasonal clubs and bars which line the beaches. If you visit during the off-season, then grab a gelato at either the city’s famous Gelateria Cesare (Piazza Indipendenza) or Sottozero (Via Zaleuco, 8) (or try them both and form your own opinion in the ongoing war between the gelaterias) Then take the evening passeggiata and stroll with the locals along the lungomare.
Reggio Calabria differs from Calabria’s other main cities in that its main shopping street, Corso Garibaldi, runs parallel to the sea. The perfect girls’ getaway offers sand and shopping to your heart’s content. The main street features an interesting mix of designer shops and chain stores.
Reggio Calabria borders the Aspromonte, a mountain range that has unfortunately received some bad press over the years because of high Calabrian mafia activity. Some guide books, finding little else to say about the region, still tag the area “the kidnap capital of the world.” But it’s not and it is important to know that the stories they are referring to date back decades and tourists were never targeted.
7. Best Tourist Tip:
To learn more about the history of Reggio Calabria and for an inside look into the city’s most famous Saint, read My Cousin the Saint, by Justin Catanoso. The book explores Italian-American culture, goes into detail about Reggio’s complicated history and offers background information on lesser-known sites within the city.
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Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria group tour planner living in southern Italy. She writes about travel for MNUI Travel Insurance and about traveling in Calabria on her sites, My Bella Vita, and Il Cedro B&B, the website for her bed and breakfast in Catanzaro.