Also known as the “DOOR OF CALABRIA”, the stretch of coast that spans from Paola to Tortora is one of the most enchanting on the Tirreno sea.
Located just 110km from Cosenza, Scalea is one of the oldest towns in the High Tyrrhenian area, and it was built at the time of the wars between the Lombards and Byzantines, who were fighting for the control of the area. It was later discovered as a holiday resort by the Romans, who built their villas in the most scenic areas; later, the buildings were used as models for the construction of the villas in Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Because of this, the town’s most frequent commercial and cultural relationships were with the coastal towns of Campania, rather than with the Calabrian backcountry: this can still be perceived in the local dialect, which is closer to that of the Campania region.The town has around 11,000 inhabitants, and is located north of the mouth of River Lao, famous today for canyoning and a favourite spot for nature and rafting lovers.
The symbol of Scalea is the Talao tower, built for defence in the 1500s by Pedro Afan de Ribera, then Governor of the Kingdom of Naples, who demanded it so he could survey the entire coast from its strategic location.
From the top of the tower you can enjoy a breathtaking view, which embraces the area that goes from the Ajnella cliffs to the beautiful island of Cirella.Although they can no longer be visited, the ruins of the Norman Castle are still visible today. Built in the 11th century as a fortress, the castle later became a private noble residence before being abandoned.
One of the main town roads, Via Lauro, is home to the Diocesan Sanctuary of the Madonna del Lauro, protector of sailors and patron saint of Meta di Sorrento. The sanctuary was built by a group of Sorrento sailors to fulfil a vow they had made to the Madonna during a violent storm that had caught them by surprise off the Scalea coast.
The annual celebration takes place on 7th and 8th September, and includes an evocative sea procession that ends with the ‘walk’ of the statue on a flower carpet prepared for the occasion.The patron saint of Scalea is Beata Vergine del Carmelo, who is celebrated on 16th July.
PRAIA A MARE
For years, Praia a Mare was a hamlet of the nearby town of Aieta; it only became an independent town in 1928, and has around 7,000 inhabitants called ‘praiesi’.
Its symbol is the beautiful Dino Island, the largest of only two Calabrian islands, whose shape resembles that of a whale about 900 metres long. Rich in typical Mediterranean flora and fauna, over time the landscape has been shaped by the erosion of limestone rocks that has created many caves including the one knowns as Azzurra (blue), always popular with holidaymakers, and the Lion’s Cave, whose waters are visited by many diving fans.To fully enjoy the history, culture and landscape of the territory, you must visit the beautiful Sanctuary of Madonna della Grotta, in the heart of the old town: built inside a natural cave, the temple houses a wooden statue of the Madonna and Christ Child, which according to tradition dates back to the 14th century (the original was stolen in 1979), and a statue of the Madonna della Neve from the 13th century. Along the staircase, made entirely of stones from the sea, you can admire mosaics depicting the Stations of the Cross, also made of the same stones.
Madonna della Grotta, the town’s patron saint, is celebrated on 15th August: at the end of Mass, the statue is brought to sea in an elegant and heartfelt procession, after which we celebrate with fireworks.
Situated in the centre of the Riviera dei Cedri, its 8km of beach and clear blue sea with enchanting sea floors make Diamante one of the most popular tourist destinations in Calabria.
It is home to Cirella Island, the second largest after Dino, where the Silver Posidonia reigns supreme. Diamante stands at a height of about 40m in front of the village of Cirella, a hamlet of Diamante since 1876 that used to be a separate municipality in 1808. Its famous ruins are the ideal scenic location for theatre and the concerts that take place every year during the summer. Here, famous artists and singers perform in front of a breathtaking panorama.An old sailor village, it has around 6,000 inhabitants known as ‘diamantesi’ or ‘adamantini’, and was named “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian” by famous author Matilde Serao. Today, it is better known as the City of Murals, because of the numerous paintings that can be admired along the narrow streets of the old town and beyond.
They feature over 300 works created since 1981 by many famous and world-renowned artists.Another distinctive symbol of the town is its peperoncino (chilli pepper): the peperoncino festival, held every year in September, attracts many tourists from around the world, and highlights the importance of the academy dedicated to this rather beloved spice.
The patron saint of Diamante, celebrated on 12th January, is Beata Vergine dell’Immacolata. The main church, located on the highest point in town, is dedicated to her.