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Monument on the Lungomare, Reggio Calabria


Duomo, Reggio Calabria


Lido on the beaches near Reggio Calabria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Reggio Calabria
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 179,384 (2001)
Official site:
Reggio Calabria
Wikipedia:
Reggio Calabria
Map:
MapQuest

Let us be perfectly frank.  Reggio  Calabria is not the epitome of a travel destination.  It is a city of 180,000 or so souls with large tracts of what might be described - charitably - as urban blight.  Moreover, if you arrive at the wrong time - and that could be anytime - you might find yourself ensnarled in a mess of angry, frustrated traffic. 

The port area, including the terminal where you can catch a 20 minute ferry ride to Messina on the Island of Sicily is practical, not pretty.  The industrial areas, which produce and export a wide variety of Calabrian olive oils, cheeses, wines, tobacco, fruit, Bergamot (a perfume extract) and other products are dull and utilitarian, and not in any way captivating.

Having said that, let us now encourage you to visit Reggio anyway, because the city has a long, interesting history and a deep soul.  Reggio's Duomo is handsome, and its lungomare - the long walk along the sea's edge (with botanical gardens that run parallel to some stretches)  is a good walk indeed. 

Remnants of walls built by early Greek colonists are still visible from the water, and also near the ruins of the Roman baths along via Vittorio Emanuele.  On either side of the city, long sandy beaches, and the usual complement of colorful lidos grace the edges of the Tyrrhenian Sea (to the north) and the Ionian Sea (to the south and east).

The centro storico is not medieval, as in most other parts of Italy, but determinedly 19th and 20th century.  Here there are a number of fashionable shops, restaurants and cafes along the main street, Corso Garibaldi, and in the contiguous neighborhoods.

The city also boasts an archaeological museum (the Museo Nazionale della Magna Graecia) that houses a fabulous collection of artifacts, including the world-famous Riace Bronzes from the 5th Century BC.  Close by these bronze statues is another Greek sculpture, the so-called Head of the Philosopher, allegedly one of the first done as a life-like study of its unknown subject.  Other items on display include things dug up in Caulonia, Sibari, Krimisia, Locri and Crotone, all of them at one time Greek settlements.

Greek settlers arrived here in the early 8th Century BC, calling the place Rhegion.  Until around 280 BC, the colony was allied with Athens, but then switched allegiance to Rome, the ascending empire.  The Romans knew the city as Rhegium.

In the aftermath of Rome's decline in the 4th Century AD, the city fell, as did the rest of the Region, to Visigoths, then Ostrogoths, then the Swabians under Frederick the II, then Byzantines and Arabs.  In about 1060 AD, the Normans invaded, and incorporated most of Calabria into  what then became the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.  In the 13th century control of Calabria passed to the Kingdom of Naples, where it remained until Italian unification in 1860.

Reggio was the first capital of the Region of Calabria, but the capital was moved to Catanzaro in 1971, for reasons we have not yet discovered.  The move, however, created a lot of unrest amongst the feisty, proud citizens of the city.

In sum, Reggio does not have the charm of other Italian cities with their well-preserved or well-restored and floodlit medieval precincts.  It's ancient walls, the temples and public buildings of the Greeks and Romans, and its medieval heart have been almost totally destroyed, either by the armies of distant empires, or by massive, pulverizing earthquakes, the worst of which happened in 1783 and 1908 (not that long ago on the Calabrese clock).  The ground has been taken over by the plain, and sometimes plain ugly.

But, Reggio's deficiencies are more than made-up for in a practical, workman-like spirit that the Region of Calabria, one of the poorest in all Italy, badly needs if it is to secure its future.  Besides, Reggio is on the way to and from many other wonderful places, so why skirt it.  Jump in.

by Vian Andrews December 6, 2005

Region of Calabria

 

Directions

By Car: A4 South from Naples. 
Train: From Cosenza, Naples, Rome, Scilla, and Tropea to Stazione Centrale. Bus: Major lines to and from Stazione Centrale.
Air: Aeroporto dello Stretto, 5 km south of Reggio, with service to and from Bologna, Florence, Milan, Rome, and Torino.
Boat:
 Ferries to and from Messina, and the Aeolian Islands (Lipari, Salina, Vulcano).

Directory
 

 

 

Riace Bronzes, Reggio Calabria