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Scilla, Calabria: the land of myth

Scilla Italy

Suspended on a cliff between the blue of the sea and the sky, Scilla and Chianalea di Scilla represent the symbol of a Calabria rich in villages full of history, legends and landscapes that know how to enchant visitors.

The myth of Scylla and Charybdis

Legend has it that, on the shores of the present village, the nymph Scylla met Glaucus, a sea god who was half man and half fish. Glaucus fell in love with her, but Scylla, frightened, did not return his love.
Glaucus then turns to the sorceress Circe for a spell, capable of leading his beloved to himself. He ended up being deceived because the sorceress was secretly in love with him.The potion given to the girl by Circe transformed Scylla into a ferocious monster with six latent dog heads.
From that moment on, Scylla took refuge in despair and rage in a cave under the spur where the Castle stands, terrorising all the sailors crossing the Strait of Messina.

On the Sicilian shore, a few kilometres away, stood the monster Charybdis. Thus was born the myth of these two beings – Scylla and Charybdis – condemned to live eternally facing each other, both a constant and inexorable presence in the Strait of Messina.

Chianalea, Scilla

Chianalea Scilla
A beautiful spot of Chianalea in Scilla, Calabria, Italy. Credits to: Marco Rubino/Shutterstock

Chianalea is the small village within Scilla: its most authentic heart. It is part of the Italian Touring Club’s association of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”.

Chianalea is a little treasure of the Costa Viola and it is also called “the little Venice of the South”; the reason for the nickname is easy to understand: the houses are built on the rocks and they are separated by narrow streets, just like the canals of Venice.

Chianalea is a small fishing village that still thrives on the ancient activity of fishing. Strolling through its narrow streets, it is not difficult to meet fishermen building their fishing nets or repairing their boats. For this reason, the most characteristic thing you can do in this village is to walk and get lost in its streets full of colourful little boats that offer wonderful views and photo sets, breathing in the air and smelling the sea.

Ruffo Castle

On Scilla’s highest promontory stands the Ruffo Castle, that watches over the whole village. The Castle dates back to 493 B.C. and its distinctive architecture suggests that it was built at different times. Throughout history it has been the residence of important historical figures and the headquarters of disputes. In 1900, the Scylla lighthouse – belonging to the Italian Navy – was set up inside the Castle.

Today, the Castle houses the Regional Centre for the Recovery of Calabria’s Historic Centres, where various events and exhibitions are organised. In addition, a beautiful panorama can be enjoyed from the terrace, extending as far as the Sicilian coast and the Aeolian Islands.

Useful information

Opening hours: 9am -1pm | 2pm – 6pm

Tickets: €2, free for children up to 10 years old and for people over 70 years of age.

Excellent seaside destination: the best beaches in Scilla

The town has always been the jewel in the crown of the Costa Viola, which is why the Scilla coastline is one of the most coveted by tourists and sea lovers.

Beach of Marina Grande

A location of excellence, where landscape and nature merge into one great spectacle of colours and sensations. The beach of Marina Grande is undoubtedly the most popular: stretches of public beach and well-equipped bathhouses can be found along this inlet, bathed by the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The seabed is rich in vegetation and marine specimens, making it ideal for snorkelling and diving.

Cliff of Punta Pacì

Not far from Marina Grande beach, there is the famous Punta Pacì cliff, one of the most fascinating places in Scilla. In this stretch, in fact, it is possible to enjoy a vivid vegetation, luxuriant both on the cliffs and on the seabed: for snokerling lovers this is the ideal place to fully devote oneself to the discovery of the underwater natural treasures.

Even those who love trekking can enjoy admiring the panorama of the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Where to eat in Scilla: top 3 restaurants

Scilla was born as a fishing village and still is; for this reason the village is the centre of swordfish fishing, which has not only become a typical dish but it has given life to a festival. The Swordfish Festival takes place in August and it is aimed at recovering the ancient fishing and cooking traditions; during this festival the village lights up with music and colours.

But, if you’re looking for a restaurant where you can sample typical local dishes, here are 3:

  1. Bleu De Toi Restaurant: typical Calabrian cuisine in a sea-view location.
  2. Restaurant la Fiocina Scilla: fresh fish dishes to be enjoyed on a terrace overlooking the sea.
  3. Casa Vela Wine Bar Scilla: ideal place to have an aperitif or dinner with a selection of local products, with a sea view.

What to see nearby

  • Tremusa Caves (21 minutes by car)
    The Tremusa Caves are located between Scilla and the district of Melia. According to legend, these suggestive karstic caves were once inhabited by nymphs.
  • Aspromonte National Park (1 hour and 10 minutes by car)
    This National Park is the perfect place to enjoy winter sports and find fresh and clean air during the summer season. The biodiversity that characterises this environment is what makes it truly unique.
  • Palmi (26 minutes by car)
    Palmi is one of the most vital Costa Viola towns, rich in history and natural beauty. The city is best known for its beaches and bays, but it would be a shame to limit oneself to just visit them.

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