Situated on the Straits of Messina, Reggio Calabria is the largest city in the region, acting also as a major port and link across to Sicily. From Reggio Calabria you can even glimpse Mount Etna (Europe’s largest active volcano) in the distance. There are extensive sandy beaches and a magnificent waterfront Promenade which comes alive in the evening as countless people come to stroll and chat. If you are lucky, you may also glimpse the ‘fata morgana’ – a mirage that sometimes appears over the water. Take a look too at the world’s oldest known Greek bust – the Philosopher – within the Museo Nazionale, along with the superb Bronzes of Riace.
Locri is one of the main beach resorts in Calabria offering a plethora of restaurants and beach areas that often turn into discos at night. Although parts of the beach close to the centre of the town can get very crowded, a short walk quickly brings you into much quieter areas. It is also a good location for anyone wanting to explore the Ancient Greek heritage of the region. Less than fifteen minutes from the centre of Locri are the archaeological remains of an Ancient Greek colony, which was a major cultural and trading hub within Magna Grecia.
Stilo is another town worth exploring. Set slightly back from the coastline, the old town area is a maze of small winding streets that suddenly open out into a piazza or stunning viewpoint. Standing high above the main town is the cathedral, La Cattolica which dates back to the tenth century and incorporates Roman bas relief sculptures into its façade, while central columns come from an ancient Greek settlement. Not far away is a contemporary art museum containing the work of over 70 artists as well as an archaeological museum.
Overlooking both the Ionian Sea on the east and the Tyrrhenian sea on the west, Catanzaro has a unique geographical location within Calabria. It literally spans the region since this is the narrowest point on the peninsula. Legend has it that the original inhabitants of the area were descended from the Trojans. The beaches here are outstanding, with long stretches of pure white sand alternate with rocky outcrops. For culture, head for the Museo Provinciale to discover a host of prehistoric, ancient Greek and Roman remains while the Villa Trieste is renowned for its spectacular gardens containing many rare plants.