- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Reggio Calabria
Reggio Calabria is a busy town in Calabria, at the tip of Italy's 'toe' and just over the water from Sicily. Along with Messina in Sicily, on the other side of the Strait of Messina, Reggio Calabria was almost totally destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1908. The town was rebuilt to elegant plans and - for a port - it is a surprisingly pleasant and amiable place, busy with traffic but rejoicing in a lovely setting. Reggio is a transport hub for ferry services to Sicily, and it is also on the tourist map for its archaeological museum. The town used to be the capital of the Calabria region; now it is merely a provincial capital. It's called Reggio Calabria, or sometimes Reggio di Calabria, to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Emilia-Romagna, known as Reggio Emilia.
Reggio di Calabria tourist information
The Ancient Greek town which stood here, Rhegion, was an important part of Magna Graecia, the Greek colonisation of Italy. The site has had obvious strategic importance over the centuries due to its proximity to Sicily and the shipping route through the Strait of Messina. However, the most important tourist attractions in Reggio are not from the city itself. The two famous Greek bronze statues in the Museo Nazionale in Reggio were found in the sea fifty miles away, near a village after which they are named: the Riace Bronzes, the Bronzi di Riace. These are larger than life-size sculptures of heroic warriors; there is speculation about their origins, creator and significance, but whatever their story, the two heroes are beautiful and rare mementoes from the past.
The National Museum in Reggio (Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria) is arguably the region's most important tourist destination, and many travellers visit Reggio purely to see the museum. As well as the Riace Bronzes, the museum holds a superb collection of exhibits from Rhegion and other Greek sites in Calabria, including Locri. The bronze statues are in pride of place in a room shared with another lovely bronze sculpture, the head of a philosopher. The museum is closed on Mondays. It's located on Piazza de Nava, at the northern end of the town centre, close to the seafront. The nearest station is Reggio Calabria Lido - for more travel advice, see below. The grand museum building was designed in the 1930s by Marcello Piacentini, the architect of Rome's EUR district.
Beach and view to Sicily, Reggio di Calabria Reggio Calabria's greatest pride, after the statues, is its long panoramic seafront. This long wide promenade is a pleasant place to stroll while admiring the view over the sea to Sicily. At a lower level and right on the shore is another walk where there are some 'beach' establishments with sunloungers to rent. A famous phenomenon called the Fata Morgana is sometimes visible from Reggio: a mirage which shimmers in the air over the sea.
Historic sights in Reggio are rather sparse, due to the vicissitudes suffered by the town. But there are a few visible ruins visible near the seafront including Roman baths and a stretch of Greek wall. If you are spending time here, other tourist attractions include the municipal art gallery (Pinacoteca Civica), the cathedral (Duomo), rebuilt after the 1908 earthquake, and the Villa Comunale public gardens. Reggio's principal thoroughfare is Corso Garibaldi, running parallel to the seafront a few streets inland, and the central square is Piazza Italia.