Guide to Reggio Calabria

29 November 2010 Published in Calabria itineraries
Beachfront in Reggio Calabria Beachfront in Reggio Calabria © Copyright Delicious Italy

Not to be confused with Reggio Emilia, Reggio di Calabria on the shores of the Straits of Messina in South Italy, was founded in the second half of the VIII century B.C. by the 'calcidesi' from Eubea who left their native Greece seeking fortune abroad. Rhegion, soon joined Naxos and Zancle (Messina) to become the centre of trade, political and military power of the Magna Grecia.

It wasn't all an upward curve however and the colourful ancient history of the city features power struggles between the despot Anassilao and his sons, battles between Sparta and Athens, destruction by Dionisio in 387 B.C. (who deported the inhabitants to Siracusa) and Roman occupation from 270 B.C. following the Punic Wars.

Part of the original Greek walls can still be seen along the sea front and the Vittorio Emanuele II road, more or less where the ruins of the Roman baths are located. Nevertheless, the best place to get a feel for the original culture of the city and ancient Calabria is the National Museum.

Inside the museum are housed many artefacts recovered from digs at Locri, Crotone, Caulonia, Sibari, Krimisia and other centres of the Magna Grecia. Most famous of all are the 'Bronzi di Riace', two huge statues of Greek warriors dating from the 5th century B.C. They were moved to the museum in 1981.

Also of note are the 'pinakes' or terracotta slabs depicting the mythical Persefone and other characters. The promenade of Reggio Calabria has been called by the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio the most beautiful kilometer in Italy.