History figures large in my travels, so you won’t be surprised that my top tourist picks are mostly historical–and pretty famous!
#1: The Riace Bronzes: Two 2,500 year old classical Greek statues, found by a scuba diver off the coast near Riace in 1972, and now housed in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggo Calabria. The full collection on the Magna Grecia occupies two floors of the museum.
#2: The Roman bridge at Scigliano: Part of the ancient Via Popilia, the Roman road from Capua to Reggio Calabria, during the Punic Wars Hannibal is said to have crossed this bridge with his armies. Not sure if that included the elephants, which Hannibal brought up through Iberia and across the Alps. The bridge is a wonderful Roman era structure. Bed and Breakfast Calabria in Scigliano is a great place to stay nearby, and I found this photo on their website.
#3: The Cattolica di Stilo: Built in the 9th century, this church is considered one of the most important Byzantine structures, and is a national monument. I love to visit churches. Along with the frescoes and Christian interior, there are Arabic inscriptions in the church–the thought of it sends my mind spinning into all kinds of historical speculations!
#4: Le Castella: I couldn’t go to Italy without visiting a castle, and the history of this one is fascinating. And the Ionian beaches couldn’t be closer! I found this interior cutaway describing life in the castle–in Italian, but it gives some good additional detail.
#5: Down time at some hot springs! There are several thermal bath options, and after visiting one in Tuscany a few years ago, I am eager to try one in Calabria. This or this should do–and then a couple of days at the beach in Tropea!