alea in Calabria, Italy: General Information

Calabria makes up the Southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula, lying between the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian seas. Positioned right in the centre of the Mediterranean, it has 800 km of magnificent coastline. Justly renowned for its beauty, the Calabrian coastline is made up of cliffs with sheer drops into the sea, long beaches with a backdrop of mountains and the immense forests of Sila, Serra, and Aspromonte. It also has a vast archaeological, artistic and cultural heritage and its unique traditions and idioms are represented in the rich qualities of the peninsula.

Calabria is a region full of legend and history forgotten for centuries after the invasions of Carlo VIII and Luigi XII. There was a brief Gothic period and a very long Byzantine period in Calabria. These two rich and diverse cultures contrasted greatly to each other and each left their own influence on the region. The Greek period was the most influential and successful historical period. This lasted for five centuries and influenced the buildings, society and the character of the Calabrian people even to this day, out living their marble and bronze monuments, many of which have been destroyed or stolen over the years by earthquakes and man's greed. Even preceding the Greeks, prehistoric man lived in underground shelters and caves embellished with graffiti and engravings. These caves can still be seen today in the Romito cave at Papasidero.

You can see evidence of all these diverse civilisations and cultures as you travel through Calabria and catch glimpses of both the modern and the ancient. The part of Calabria that we cover is the north side on the Tyrrhenian sea that borders with Basilicata best known as the Riviera dei Cedri (Citron Riviera). It extends for almost 80km, includes 26 different towns between Praia a Mare and Paola and takes its name from the Citron fruit cultivated on this part of the coast in the town of Santa Maria Del Cedro and in no other part of the world. This fruit is sought after by the Jewish people to celebrate their religious rites. Citron is also used to produce liquors, jams, biscuits, etc. typical of this region.
Scalea is an ancient town on the northern Tyrrhenian coast, full of history, culture and centuries of tradition.

Scalea saw the arrival of Homo Sapiens a few thousand years before the arrival in Calabria of the Greek colonizers. It is enriched with monuments and works of art, most of which can still be admired today, for example, the thirteenth century "Palazzo Spinelli", dating back to 1200, once the home of Prince Spinelli and important religious buildings including the Church of "Santa Maria d'Episcopio".

This church is dedicated to the patron of the city, Madonna Del Carmine, and was built on a pre existing settlement by the Basilian monks in the VIII century. The ruins of the Franciscan convent can still be seen today. It was constructed by Saint Francis of Assisi and was the biggest ever convent built in the Calabrian area. Another church worth visiting is San Nicola in Plateis which was built upon the ruins of an ancient Byzantine chapel between VIII and IX centuries, when this church, containing two chapels, was first built it stood directly by the sea.

Scalea at one time was protected by the watch towers which guarded against enemy invasion. The Torre Della Scalicella tower was also called the Judas Tower because a guard that was on duty aided an enemy invasion.
The chapel of the Madonna Del Lauro was patronised by sailors because they believe a miracle happened there. In the middle of the town of Scalea stands the Torre Talao built in the sixteenth century on a small island.
It was built to defend the town against the Turkish attacks and today has become a symbol of Scalea.

Inside this cylindrical Tower is a small archaeological museum which holds rare pieces of archaeological artifacts that date back to the 6th and 7th centuries. Nowadays Scalea is one of the most visited holiday resorts in Italy. A modern, busy small town all year round, it hosts thousands of Italian and foreign tourists during the summer months and has a lot to offer with its unspoilt natural beauty, the hospitality of the local people, crystal clear sea, 8km beaches, and numerous accommodation and recreational facilities. There are lots of things to do in Scalea.
You can practice many sports such as rafting, canoeing, scuba diving and trekking.
Scalea also offers relaxation and fun, not to mention the traditional Calabrian cuisine and typical Mediterranean dishes. Scalea has its traditional summer fairs in honour of the Madonna del Carmine on 15th and 16th of July and the Madonna del Lauro 7th and 8th of September, there are also other towns of interest nearby.

In Praia a Mare several caves of hermits were found many many years ago. One of the caves is called Grotto Della Madonna and is a destination for pilgrimages from all the nearby towns and from all over Italy. Just off Praia is an island called Isola Di Dino where you will find other caves called Sardine, Leone and Azzurra.

Santa Maria Del Cedro, another nearby town is so called as it has taken the name of the citron fruit trees that grow there. The town has an historic area that dates back to the 12th century. Just along the coast from Scalea you will find Diamante and Cirella. Cirella is a small hamlet and is part of Diamante. Diamante was founded in 1638 and is famous for its Murals - wall paintings painted on the walls of the old houses which you can admire in the centre of the old part of the town.
Belvedere, ia a this town that dates back as far as the 12th century and is famous for its ceramic and terracotta.

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