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In the centro storico, Crotone


Castella del Aragonese, Crotone


Duomo, Crotone

Welcome to Crotone
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 51,182 (2001)
Official site:
Crotone
Wikipedia:
Crotone
Map:
MapQuest

How old is Crotone?  So old that almost as much happened here before the year 1 AD as has happened after.

Situated on a low promontory on the Ionian Sea, between the rivers Neto and Tacina, a short distance north of Capo Colonna, it is now a small, modern city, saved from its mostly utilitarian atmosphere by the changeable colours of the ancient waters next to which it sits and by the parched, sunlit planes behind.

Staying near Crotone?
VisitsItaly  recommends
La Costa Tiziana

There is a wonderful little harbor, the only good one between Reggio Calabria and Taranto, used by fisherman and Mediterranean yachtsman alike, long, easy beaches that stretch-out on either side of the town itself, and a few very interesting architectural works, including the ruins of two medieval castles and their surrounding fortifications.  One, the Castella Aroganese (1541), stands where the Greek acropolis would have been, and the other, a Norman castle, sits on an islet by the shore.

The largest piazza in Crotone is the Piazza Pitagora, but the Piazza Duomo, in front of the Cathedral, is more people-friendly.  The Duomo has elements that date back to the 9th century, but is mostly a 15th century work, with elements of the Baroque worked into its interior.

The archaeological museum near the Cathedral is worth taking time to visit.  You will find a wide variety of coins, votive ceramics, terra cotta vases, bronze miniatures and other artifacts that have been found in the area.  In the centro storico, a little distance from the Piazza Duomo, you will also find a Civic Museum, library, archives and a hall used for local and traveling exhibitions.

There are a number of churches in the city which will intrigue some visitors, many of them, because of war and earthquakes re-built many times, creating an encyclopedic mix of architectural styles in each edifice.

Among the churches, look for Chiesa Immaculata, which dates to the 15th Century but which was almost totally rebuilt in the 18th.  Inside there are some Baroque features and a few good 19th century paintings.

Parts of Chiesa Santa Chiara dates to the 8th Century, but is mostly 15th. However, its interior also has Baroque elements.  The organ, built by the famous Neapolitan Tommasi de Martino, was installed in about 1753 and is still in magnificent working order.

The "rich man's" church is Chiesa San Giuseppe, which also features elements from every architectural epoch starting from the 8th or 9th centuries.  Next to this church is an 18th century palazzo featuring fluted "Greek" columns with Ionic capitals.  On the Piazza Castello, you will find the Morelli building, built in 1885, the very imposing Barracan building with an inner courtyard and dance pavilion.  Here you will also find the entrance to the Aroganese Castle.

All in all, we like the city because it offers travelers an unhurried ambience, and an opportunity to connect the present to the long ago, when Crotone, along with many other points along the Ionian Coast were settled by Greeks.

The first Greek colonists, from Corinth and other towns in the Aechean League, first arrived here in the very early 8th Century BC - around 710.  Over time, the city evolved into a very wealthy and powerful city in "greater Greece" or  "Magna Graecia", which included a significant chunk of Calabria, particularly its eastern reaches.

Not much is left of the Greek era city, and what is known is known mostly from historical documents.  There was an acropolis at the highest point of the promontory, and doubtless there would have been a number of temples, public buildings, theaters and a few palaces and large houses.  Documents also suggest there were extensive walls - running for a total of some 19 kilometers but only the merest fragments remain today.

We know the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagorus, a proponent of autocratic, elitist rule, came to Crotone in about 530 BC and  established a school here with many students, and we know he was chased ultimately chased-out, about 20 years later, by an oligarchy of wealthy merchants and others.  The Greeks also established a medical school, famous in its time, and involved themselves heavily in Olympic sports, sending many victorious champions to compete in the Games, including the most famous of all, Milo of Kroton.

The Crotonese were involved in long-standing conflicts with other Greek colonies, most notably with Sybaris, also on the Ionian Sea to the north.  Ultimately, in about 510 BC the Crotonese army, under the generalship of the Olympian, Milo, attacked and utterly destroyed Sybaris, which to this day has never been rebuilt.  Crotone was also beset by the Brutti, an early italic tribe, the Syracusans, and Epirians, the latter under King Pyrrhus.  The city was also attacked and occupied for a period by the Carthiginians.  By 193 BC, however, after the second of the two Punic Wars, the city fell to the Romans.

The Carthaginian General, Hannibal, descending from the north and at the completion of his campaigns against the Romans, departed from Crotone for Africa, but allegedly not before slaughtering many of the Italic tribesmen who had supported him because they refused to go to Carthage.  He was said to have done this in the most important of the Greek temples, the Sanctuary to Hera Lacinia, just outside the town at Capo Colonna.  At this temple Hannibal is also supposed to have erected two bronze tablets where he listed his victorious battles over the Romans.  Except for one Doric column, nothing remains of the temple.  It was destroyed in war, and by earthquake, and subsequently was used as a "quarry" for buildings elsewhere.

Over time, Rome fell, and Crotone's history, like the rest of Calabria becomes one that involves a succession of belligerent foreign empires. As we know by the ruins of the castles they built the Normans and Spanish Aragonese were here.  In between, the city was taken by the Byzantines.  Eventually, Crotone, along with the rest of Calabria was absorbed into the Kingdom of Naples, where it remained, an unimportant small fishing port, until Italian unification in 1860.  It is now the capital of Crotone Province, and experiencing a small resurgence.

by Vian Andrews December 12, 2005

Region of Calabria

 

Directions

By Car: South from Taranto on the SS106, 240 km.  North from Reggio Calabria about 227 km.  East of Catanzaro, first go south on the SP17 to E90, then go east on the SS106 72 km.
Air: Lamezia Terme, Reggio Calabria or Taranto.

Directory
La Costa Tiziana Hotel and Tourist Village

 

 

Castello Normano, Crotone
 

 


Milo of Crotone by Pierre Puget
(at Versaille,  France)