Reggio di Calabria is a city in Calabria on the toe of Italy. It’s a ferry port for the short crossing to Messina in Sicily. It’s of great antiquity, being part of the Hellenistic region of Magna Grecia, but there’s little of that to see nowadays. The city has suffered repeated earthquakes, and was pulverised by the terrible quake and tsunami of 1908. Then came heavy Allied bombing in the Second World War. After the war the city suffered from economic slump and organised crime: ‘Ndrangheta (organized crime) are believed still to exert a strong grip over local authority and businesses.

There are long-held plans to build a bridge from here to Sicily, but preparatory work was cancelled in 2013.

Seafront “Lungomare Falcomatà”

Find tourist info at 38.10921415.6445421 Tourist Information Office , Palazzo San Giorgio (at the City Hall next to the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (Piazza Italia).

Understand

When to visit

The best months to visit are June and September, when the beaches are open but not overcrowded and weather is pleasant. Temperatures in July and August can get very hot and usually reach 40°C a couple of days a year. Autumn (September to November) and winter (December to March) are still very sunny but with days of very bad weather, with strong winds and rain.

How to reach

Map of Reggio di Calabria

By boat

Boats for Messina in Sicily leave from the port of Reggio, and from Villa San Giovanni, 14 km further north. In Messina they land either in the main downtown port, or at the northern terminal 4 km away.

  • Bluferries. Hydrofoils (take cars) hourly from VSG to Messina downtown. On foot €2.50, cars €37-60.
  • Liberty Lines. Fast catamarans roughly hourly from Reggio Calabria, no vehicles. On foot €3.50 single, €6.50 return.
  • Caronte & Tourist. VSG to Messina only with car. With car €36.
  • Meridiano Lines. Ferries Messina downtown – Reggio Calabria (every 2 hours 24/7, taking 40 min). On foot €1.50, car €15.

Reggio ferry terminal is at 38.12153415.648641 Stazione Marittima (just north of Stazione Lido).

By train

Long-distance trains from Milan, Rome and Naples call at Villa San Giovanni ferry port 14 km north, then stop at 38.10370615.6362811 Reggio Calabria Centrale, Piazza Garibaldi. There’s a left luggage office inside the station, open 06:00 to 18:00. The plaza just outside is the bus terminal, with frequent connections to the ferry port. Lots of cafes and fast-food kiosks here.

Train fares from Palermo and Catania on Sicily do not include the ferry trip between Messina and Villa San Giovanni, although the ferry trip will appear on your ticket. You must pay the €2.50 fare at the ferry terminal.

Regional trains run along the coast from small towns such as Scilla and Tropea to the north, and the airport and Palizzi to the south. These also stop at local stations within Reggio, e.g. Santa Caterina and Lido, which are closer than Centrale for the ferries to Messina.

By plane

  • 38.07414315.6536081 Aeroporto dello Stretto (Reggio Calabria Airport REG  IATA) (at Ravagnese, about 5 km south). Alitalia fly from Rome FCO, Milan LIN, Turin and Bergamo. Blue Panorama also fly from Rome and Milan. Buses run from the airport to downtown and the port. (updated Mar 2018)

Lamezia Terme airport (SUF IATA), 130 km north, has budget flights by Ryanair and EasyJet, who don’t fly to Reggio.

Get around

Local buses mostly all run to Piazza Garibaldi, in front of Stazione Centrale. The bus company is ATAM (Azienda Trasporti per l’Area Metropolitana di Reggio Calabria), toll-free: 800 43 33 10. Buy tickets in any newsagent or tabaccheria. A single ticket valid for 75 min costs €1.50. (updated Mar 2018)

See

The Bronzi di Riace
  • The elegant main promenade is Lungomare Italo Falcomatà , paralleling Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Midway along is the modern Amphitheater (Arena dello Stretto / Anassilaos Amphitheater) 38.11119415.6449071.
  • For city strolling follow the mostly pedestrianized Corso Garibaldi , which crosses the main squares of piazza Garibaldi, piazza Duomo, piazza Camagna, piazza d’Italia, and piazza de Nava.
  • 38.11464615.6510441 Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Reggio Calabria), Piazza Giuseppe De Nava, 26 (100 m from Lido Station), ☏ +39 0965 898272. Tu-Su 09:00-20:00 (last admission 19:30). From the 8th century BCE, many Greeks fled their homeland to settle in south Italy and Sicily. This “Magna Grecia” influenced Roman culture, and founded cities such as Naples and Syracuse, before eventually being absorbed into the Roman Republic. This museum shows their story and artefacts. The highlight is the Bronzi di Riace, two full-size bronze sculptures of bearded nude warriors, cast about 460–430 BCE. The statues are kept in a special room with restricted access: visits are scheduled every 20 min, with the first 20 min watching a film in the “pre-filter room”, then viewing the statues for another 20 min. €8; on Wednesdays €6.
  • 38.10538215.6421171 Duomo (Cathedral) (Cathedral Basilica of Maria Santissima Assunta in Cielo), Via Tommaso Campanella 46. Rebuilt in modern Romanesque after its predecessor was wrecked in the earthquake of 1908.
  • 38.10554215.6442141 Castello Aragonese (Aragonese Castle) (at the historical centre), ☏ +39 0965 362111. Tu-Su 08:30-13:30 & 15:30-18:30. Just a masonry shell, sometimes used for concerts, you come for the panorama of the city. It’s named for the Kings of Aragon who re-built it in the 14th century. Free. (updated Mar 2018)
  • 38.10606615.643561 Chiesa degli Ottimati (Chiesa di Santa Maria Annunziata) (next to the castle). M-Sa 08:15-11:30 (Jul Aug 08:15-10:00), M-F 18:00-20:15 (Jul Aug 18:30-20:15), Sa 18:30-20:15; holidays 09:45-11:30 (except Jul Aug), 18:30-21:15​. Built in the 10th century as a Norman church, it has suffered multiple destructions, most recently in the earthquake of 1908. The present structure, completed in 1933, is in neo-Byzantine style.
  • 38.11071315.6567511 Santuario di Sant’Antonio (Basilica di Sant’Antonio), Via Sant’Antonio al Santuario (on top of Collina degli Angeli hill overlooking town, 500 m from the center). Rebuilt in gothic style in the 20th century.
  • 38.11102515.645981 Villa Genoese Zerbi, Via Zaleuco 5 (midway along promenade). Usually closed. Built in Neo-Gothic style in 1925, it’s only open for exhibitions, e.g. as a satellite of the Venice Biennale. (updated Mar 2018)
  • Palazzo Mazzitelli is an office and retail block on the corner of Via Fata Morgana 38.10960715.6452661
  • Piazza del Populo has a market. It’s overlooked by the former fascist barracks Casa del Fascio and memorial 38.11676515.6534151
  • 38.11598915.6717931 Basilica of the Hermitage (Santa Maria Madre della Consolazione), via Eremo Botte (1.5 km E of city center). Rebuilt in modern style in 1965, this is where the Madonna sets off on her annual procession. (updated Mar 2018)

Do

  • Ride the ferry across the Straits for the view, even if you don’t intend to visit Sicily. You need a conventional car-ferry for this, where you can get out on deck: on the fast-cats you’re closed in behind salt-crusted windows. Check also that your return ferry brings you back to your starting point (whether Reggio or Villa San Giovanni) and not to the other one 14 km away.
  • The second Saturday in September sees the religious procession Festa della Madonna della Consolazione. The Madonna’s effigy is carried from the Basilica dell’Eremo (Church of the Hermitage) along Corso Garibaldi to the cathedral.
  • Watch a show at 38.1087815.64511 Teatro Comunale Francesco Cilea, Corso Garibaldi (Located in front of Palazzo San Giorgio), ☏ +39 0965 312701. This 1500-seater neoclassical building hosts various musical and theatrical performances. (updated Mar 2018)
Lido Comunale
  • Lido Comunale: for €1 you get a day-pass to this northern beach, a changing room, use of showers, etc.
  • Watch football: Reggio’s football team is Urbs Reggina 1914 and their home ground is Stadio Oreste Granillo, 1 km S of the main railway station. They’ve suffered a number of match-fixing and financial scandals, and, as of 2019, languish in Serie C, the third level of Italian football.

Buy

  • Bergamotto liquor is similar to Limoncello. It’s flavoured with the Bergamot Orange, a citrus resembling a lime, cultivated only here. The oil of the orange also flavours Earl Grey Tea.

Eat

  • Cordon Bleu, Corso Garibaldi 205, ☏ +39 0965 814907. Daily 07:00-00:00. In a verandah-tent spilling across the street. Acts posh with waiters in black tie and white tuxedo, paper hats on draught beer, etc., but it’s basically a glorified fast-food joint. Equally good for snacks and main meals. It’s famous for crispellini, small balls of bread stuffed with fish and fried (€2 for a large bag). They may be the closest you’ll get to fish doughnuts.
  • La Dolce Vita (Pizzeria Braceria), Via Cardinale Tripepi 7, ☏ +39 0965 24874. Tu-Su 07:00-00:00. Handy choice near Parco Caserta. (updated Mar 2018)
  • Gelateria Cesare, Piazza Indipendenza, 2. Daily 05:00-02:00. On the green kiosk in Piazza Indipendenza, Cesare has been a favorite in the city since 1918. It is famous for its gelato brioche.

Drink

  • Pepy’s Beach, Lungomare Falcomata (mid-way along main promenade). open 24 / 7 during summer season. Good place to have a quiet beer, limoncello, bergamotto or cocktail while looking across at Sicily and listening to the waves hitting the rocky beach.

Sleep

  • Albergo Noel (B&B Al Duomo), 114 Via Francesco da Paolo (just off river quay Via Argine Destro Calopinace), ☏ +39 0965 330 044. Small and central. There is another Albergo Noel at 13 Viale Genoese Zerbi. €40 for a double. (updated Mar 2018)

Go next

  • The main reason anyone comes to Reggio is to cross the straits to Sicily. And so should you. Ferries land there at Messina, from where you may continue south to Taormina, Mount Etna, Catania and Siracusa, or follow the north coast to Milazzo the port for the Aeolian Islands, and further west reach Palermo.
  • Scilla is a charming old fishing port 22 km north of Reggio, looking over the Straits at their narrowest point. Here stands Ruffo Castle, atop a headland with good beaches to either side. Regional trains stop in Scilla.
  • 37.9542222215.761138891 Pentedattilo (about 45 minutes drive from Reggio, the nearest public transport is to Melito Porto Salvo or Anna, 8-10 km). A well-preserved ancient mountain village in southern Calabria. It’s overlooked by a five-pronged rock formation, hence its Greek name daktylos penta, i.e. five fingers. It became tumbledown and deserted – a “ghost town” – but from the 1980s was gradually reconstructed and repopulated. There’s an arts & crafts “Paleariza” festival here mid-summer, and an annual short film festival in late August.
  • 38.1715.991 Aspromonte National Park (Parco Nazionale dell’Aspromonte) (You need a car: follow SP 7 towards Gambarie), ☏ +39 0965 743 060. Ranged over a great pyramid of granite, reaching almost 2000 m altitude, with several rare species. The main facilities are at Gambarie ski resort (1,311 m).
Routes through Reggio di Calabria
SalernoVibo Valentia N  S becomes
NaplesSalernoPaestum N  S END
becomes  W  E MetapontoTaranto

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