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Rooftops of Gioia Tauro


Beaches of Gioia Tauro
by Michele Costaldo


The port at Gioia Tauro

Welcome to Gioia Tauro
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population:  18,483 (2004)
Official Website:
Gioia Tauro
Wikipedia: Gioia Tauro
Map:
MapQuest

About half way between Tropea and Reggio Calabria is the impressively busy and muscular Porto Gioia Tauro - the second largest commecial and industrial port on the Mediterranean (second only to Algiers), and the 6th largest in Europe.  Ocean going ships from around the Mediterranean and around the world arrive and depart at the port around the clock, every day of the year.

A little further inland, on a rise overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea sits the old town of Gioia Tauro - continuously inhabited for more than 2500 years.  Unlike Palmi, about 7 kilometers to the south which has been a resort town since the 19th century, Gioia Taura presents itself as a working-man's town with an assortment of buildings that range from a few that can claim ancient status to those that have been built in modern times, and have a flat, modern, utilitarian aspect.

It is probably salutary to remember that the frankly charmless modern construction that one sees in Gioia Taura - and indeed all over Calabria - is here because many of the ancient buildings that tourists like to see in other parts of Italy have been destroyed over the centuries by a success of devastating earthquakes.  So, the "timber" that the new buildings are made out of is the indomitable pluck, persistence, resilience and determination of the  Calabrian people.

In a word, Gioia Taura is not  particularly pictures que - although, in our experience, if you stay more than a few days you may find it strangely so.  There is a kind of lovely elegance to its homliness, and its homliness is borne upward in the mind's eye by the views one gets from the towns highest reaches.  On a clear day, even the blind can see across to volcanic Isola di Stromboli and the Lipari Islands that ride the northern coast of Sicily.

And, its superficial qualities withstanding, Gioia Tauro also deserves a closer look because there remain througout the town, certain vestiges of its long history.  From about 400 BC or so it was inhabited by Greek colonists who called it Metauros.  There are scant remnants of their most important public place, the Acropolis, the place where their main temples and public forums would have stood, but today the same area remains the most important area - now called the Cittadella.  Here you will find in its small piazza, Saint Anthony's church, and close by, following the contours of the oldest medieval streets, several other Baroque style buildings with ornamented portals and windows that should catch the curious eye.  In nearby contrada Petra (Petra's Quarter) one finds the ruins of a Roman Villa, and then the ruins of a necropolis - or burial site - that was in use 2000 years ago.  Gioia Tauro,  therefore, is a venerable town.

There are no museums, no galleries, no monuments or buildings in Gioia Tauro, and no upscale restaurants, theaters or other venues that serve to draw the curious and culturally-minded to other towns in other places.  The rich and famous do not come to the Gioia Tauro.   But there are cafes, trattoria and restaurants that offer an authentic Calabrian experience, and the people of the town are gregarious and welcoming.  It is not a bad place to hang-out, and a very good place to stay if you want to take day trips to explore southern Calabria, and even eastern Sicily, which can be reached in short order by the ferries that come and go from Scilla just south of Gioia Tauro.

Sun lovers will enjoy the beaches that are readily accessible from Gioia Tauro.  The beach at Gioia Tauro itself runs about 3 kilometers in length, and during the summer months is populated by a string of independently run Lidos, most of them family oriented, with their many-coloured umbrellas, and comfortable beach chairs.  Many, if not most, Lidos, operate small cafes where you can have coffee, drinks or even lunch.  Virtually all of them have outdoor showers, many have recreational areas for volleyball and other sports, or childrens' playgrounds, some have paddle boats that you can rent by the hour to bob upon the incoming, immemorial waves.

There is also a beach at Palmi to the south, but it runs only about 1 kilometer in length and is less busy as a result.  This beach like its counterpart at Gioia Tauro has a pebbly quality so sandles or flip flops are recommended.  Along the length of the beaches there are bars, restaurants, cafes, equipment rental shops and other shops catering to holiday-makers.

Those who resist paying for beach time can find, at various places along these beaches, areas set aside for free public access, but be forewarned, on the hottest days, if you don't have a sun umbrella - take great care not to burn.  The hot Calabrian sun can be vicious to the unprepared.

When is the best time to come to Gioia Tauro?  Almost any season, but bear in mind that dense throngs of vacationers  arrive in early July from northern Italy and other parts of Europe (the Germans and English have discovered the place!)  But, they will all be gone by the first week in September, at which time the Lido owners start removing their gear from the beaches.  That first, second and third week of September (and perhaps the month of June too) - are sweet, quiet, balmy times on the beaches - and the sun is less fierce.

If one want something to do other than stroll the streets of the town, or participate in beach recreation, one can work up a sweat in a number of other ways: there is tennis, horseback riding, biking, hiking and hunting; there are thermal baths and there is a golf course.  One can even take a long walk or run along the lungomare - the road and walkway that parallels the beach.

But...doing nothing is also an option, and once one gets over the guilt feelings that often accompany laziness one finds the joy of sheer relaxation...that wonderful medicine that is tonic to the soul!  Of that medicine, there is plenty to be had in Gioia Tauro.

Added by Vian Andrews, January 7th, 2007

Region of Calabria

3826′N 1554′E

Distances

Tropea - 47 km;
Vibo Valentia - 48 km;
Messina - 55 km;
Pizzo - 56 km;
Reggio Calabria - 57 km;
Lamezia Terme - 86 km;
Taormina - 105 km;
Catanzaro - 110 km;
Cosenza - 141 km;
Catania - 152 km

Directory

Places to stay

Villetta Mimma Vittoria


Coat of Arms of Gioia Tauro

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