On the northern side of the Sicilian peninsula, the two bases of Portorosa and Capo d’Orlando are the ideal starting point to navigate between two impressive coastlines and explore the wonders of the coastal villages overlooking the Strait of Messina.
From the coasts of Sicily to the Calabrian Tyrrhenian, the deep South Italy is a land of winds and crystal waters, steep cliffs and wild beaches, small and medium-sized towns full of charm, tradition and ancient cultures.
From one bank to the other, the flavors, the aromas, the archaeological treasures and the views of the Magna Graecia echo among the strongest calls of the Mediterranean, becoming an enchanting route between history and nature to be explored on a sailboat.
The Gulf of Patti, a few miles away from our moorings, is home to one of the most important and enchanting archaeological areas of Eastern Sicily: Tindari, located on a promontory of the Nebrodi mountains, was home to Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs, accumulating among its ruins the mysteries and the charm of centuries of history and legends. On the slopes of the promontory, the acropolis is home to several archaeological legacies of incomparable beauty: the Sanctuary, overlooking the surrounding area, is the main attraction of the site, with the famous cedar statue of the Black Madonna, even today object of great worship and folklore; among mosaics, sculptures and ancient ceramics, the promenade leads to the Greek Theater, the oldest monument dating back to the 4th century BC, once home to Roman games, today stage of an artistic festivals. Proceeding towards the valley we cross the ancient town; developed on different levels, is a succession of ancient buildings, taverns, capitals and remains of baths dating back to the first century BC, and leads to the enchanting lagoon of Oliveri, recognized as a nature reserve for its exceptional naturalistic value: the beach of Marinello, the most famous of the area, it is a sand tongue that changes according to the tides and hosts the Grotta di Donna Villa, a suggestive rock formation, ideal for snorkelers, protagonist of popular fantasies and ancient tales.
Known as “the gateway to Sicily”, Messina and its impressive port have been the front door to the entire island for centuries; the different cultures of the past have left an architectural and monumental heritage of immense value, which together with the view of the Strait and the enchantments of the surrounding areas make it a strategic crossroads for tourists and navigators from all over Europe. The visit of the city center certainly starts from the Duomo, rebuilt several times maintaining the original elements of the Norman style. Inside it contains an authentic treasure of sculptures, gold and crystals dedicated to the saints of the local tradition, while the façade, with its majestic bell tower, boasts the astronomical clock among the largest in the world, animated by iconic statues that parade before the eyes of the visitors every fifteen minutes. At the center of Piazza Duomo stands the Fountain of Orion, dating back to the sixteenth century and also depicting various mythological figures. Among Gothic and Normans churches, neoclassical and noble palaces, lovers of archeology will not want to miss a visit to the Regional Museum, which houses one of the most sought-after and vast historical collections in Sicily. Outside the city center, along the roads from the upper part of Messina overlooking the Strait you can enjoy unique views, combined with two of the buildings that testify the noble architectural legacy of the city: the Sanctuary of Montalto and the Sacrario del Cristo Re.
Art, history, excellent cuisine and beaches not to be missed: Ganzirri with its characteristic lakes, Mortelle with its crowded beaches and restaurants and Capo Peloro, with its marvelous views on the coasts of Calabria.
Seat of the renowned “most beautiful kilometer of Italy”, the neighbor of Messina enjoys a privileged position in the deep Mediterranean: crossroads between the Ionic and the Tyrrhenian coast, the province of Reggio Calabria offers different and contrasting marine landscapes in both directions, united to enchanting historic villages and to a city center that enjoys an exceptional walk overlooking the Sicilian coast and Mount Etna.
If the center offers shops, excellent tasting of desserts and gelato, typical cuisine and important monuments such as the Duomo, the Aragonese Castle, the Greek Walls and the National Archaeological Museum – one of the most important guardians of Greek culture and home of the famous Bronzes of Riace – the two coasts that embrace the city truly guard the most precious treasures of this land. Long and relaxing beaches follow one after the other on the Ionian side, which is also home to charming villages attributable to the Greek heritage area protected by UNESCO, such as Pentedattilo and Bova Superiore, while the Tyrrhenian coast offers breathtaking views with its jagged beaches and the steep cliffs overlooking the sea, giving excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving from the Costa Viola to the north, up to the famous Tropea.
The 35 kilometers of coastline north of Reggio Calabria offer a succession of genuine sea pearls, relaxing, cheap and not yet beaten by mass tourism. It was Plato, more than two thousand years ago, to baptize this area, inspired by the colors of the Tyrrhenian waters and its depths, a favorite destination for divers.
Even if it was recounted and made legendary by Homer in the Odyssey, Scilla is not a place of fantasy, but the main attraction of this area that offers a unique visual impact, whether you arrive by sea or admire it from the top of its panoramic terrace: an immense beach with a rocky bottom, surmounted by the village inhabited on one side and by the imposing Ruffo Castle on the other, which, from the slopes of the promontory, looks majestically and mysteriously on the sea and on the tourists that crowd the water’s edge.
Behind the castle, reachable by foot directly from the beach of Scilla, the small port of Chianalea welcomes visitors in one of the most picturesque villages of the Tyrrhenian coast: a long walk through cobblestone streets and ancient houses built in rows on the sea, souvenirs shops, delicious little restaurants overlooking the sea where you can taste the best fish dishes – including the swordfish, a characteristic feature of this area – and an ups and downs of alleys that open from the central street offering amazing views over the Strait of Messina and the Sicilian coast. All embellished with colorful boats, fishing nets and the atmosphere of an authentic seaside district where time seems to stand still, preserving a postcard image absolutely not to be missed during the exploration of the Costa Viola. Going up the coast to the north towards Tropea, the shores of the reserved Favazzina and the Bay of the Tonnara di Palmi, with its sea caves, are the sights not to be missed for memorable baths and relaxing afternoons.
Along the coastal strip known as the Costa degli Dei (Gods’ Coast) for the uniqueness and beauty of its landscapes, stands Tropea, the authentic and most renowned pearl of the Tyrrhenian coast. An ancient and romantic village dating back to the Roman age, built overhanging a steep cliff that precipitates spectacularly on some of the most exciting beaches in Southern Italy.
The city center is a succession of churches, aristocratic palaces and historic squares, souvenir shops and unmissable restaurants, where you can appreciate the typical recipes of the area, the famous red onion, the spicy ‘nduja and the different specialties of sea and mountain, accompanied from a fresh glass of bergamot liqueur, the exclusive product of this region.
As soon as you arrive, it will be impossible not to be fascinated by the view of the Benedictine Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola, which overlooks the village and the surrounding sea from the top of a verdant rock. The Norman cathedral, Via Boiano with the Baroque palaces, the Church of San Demetrio, Piazza Ercole and the splendid panorama admirable from Corso Vittorio Emanuele complete the city walk before leaving to discover the beautiful coasts nearby.
The crystalline sea is the common element of the different beaches, each with its characteristic conformation: Spiaggia della Rotonda, at the foot of a cliff that descends over the sea; A ‘Linguata and Spiaggia del Convento, ideal for snorkeling, Spiaggia Occhiale, full of inlets that create a unique atmosphere, to end with Marina dell’Isola, the busiest and most crowded by tourists.
On the way back, just 6 miles from Tropea heading south, the Capo Vaticano coastline offers a myriad of spectacular ravines where you can immerse yourself in transparent waters: Baia di Grotticelle, the Pirate Waterfall and Isola Bella, with the Grotta degli Innamorati, they are just some of the immortal beauties that every year attract sailors along the Costa degli Dei.