25 June 2018   •   Carolina Attanasio

Instaborghi: Chianalea di Scilla, the little Venice of Calabria

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«Among the most suggestive countries of Calabria, Chianalea di Scilla is the protagonist of the Instaborghi menu, served with swordfish»

The second episode of Instaborghi (here the first) takes us to Chianalea di Scilla (tourist site), in the land of Calabria. Beautifully perched overlooking the most beautiful sea on the coast, Chianalea di Scilla is called the little Venice of Calabria, for the waters that have always lapped the small houses of the fishermen. We are in the seaside village further north of Scilla, where the old houses are separated from each other by the alleys that descend towards the sea and sometimes offer shelter to small boats. Walking through the streets is like a childhood experience, you can smell aromas reminiscent of those of your grandmother, with simple flavors, Mediterranean fragrances; the scenery and the cuisine are those things that can flip a bad day around. The charm of Chianalea ensnares, like many villages in southern Italy, and the town has been able to preserve its traditions and remain authentic despite the contaminations and compromises that tourism sometimes requires.

What to see in Chianalea di Scilla

The genius loci is the Castello Ruffo di Scilla, a fortification of the 5th century BC that looks overbearing towards Messina, overlooking the sea, a spectacular view both from Chianalea and from above, a sight which you cannot avoid noticing. Born during the tyranny of Anassila, with Reggio Calabria at the height of its importance, for centuries the Castle has hindered the rivals’ attempts to assault and has been fortified several times by the various tyrants from Reggio to protect themselves from pirate raids. During the Roman era, the people from Reggio, great allies of the Empire, resisted the attacks of the Punic and were helped by the Romans to continue the fortification works. The Castle has overcome wars, earthquakes, has been turned into a lighthouse, then restored, it was a youth hostel and, today, is a cultural center for the recovery of the historical centers of Calabria, as well as the seat of numerous exhibitions and conferences.

The Caves of Tremusa, in the chestnut woods near the small town of Melia, are a remnant of the Pleistocene sea, which 5000 years ago bathed these mountains. The caves, rich in stalactites and stalagmites, are all to be explored, in particular due to the presence of Pecten’s shells, a direct testimony of life at the time of the appearance of man.

What to do in Chianalea di Scilla

You are in one of the most beautiful seas of Calabria, it is clear that the first thing you have to do in Chianalea is running on the beach, but really running. The Marina Grande di Scilla is a 800 meters long beach that alternates sections equipped with a free beach. In the blue sea are reflected the small colored houses that surround the beach, protected by the gulf and the seabed, very clean, are ideal for some snorkeling. If among you there are experienced or aspiring fishermen, you can try out the fishing swordfish tourism excursions, which take place on “walkway” boats, so called for the bridge that juts out at the bow for the sighting of the animal.

What to eat in Chianalea di Scilla

We were talking about swordfish fishing, so what do you expect? That Chianalea is the village of swordfish, correct. 365 days a year of dishes based on fresh fish: grilled sword, rolls, smoked, in a thousand different sauces. If you do not eat fish, I’m sorry for you, here.

A little curiosity about Chianalea di Scilla

In the golden days of swordfish hunting, if fishing did not succeed or if there was a shortage of sightings, it was thought that the evil eye had hit the boat or the fishermen, so they resorted to saints, hunchbacks and horns to avert the danger and hope for a fruitful fishing. Today the tradition of big fishing lives especially in August, during the days of the swordfish festival (Facebook page), an event also thought to recover the ancient traditions linked to this activity, which for centuries has characterized Chianalea and the life of the its inhabitants.

Carolina Attanasio

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