The village of Ardore is on a hill near the Ionian Sea in the province of Reggio Calabria.
According to legend, the village was originally on Lake Odore at the foot of the Tre Pizzi volcano and took its name from the lake.
The sanctuary of the Madonna della Grotta is pilgrimage destination for thousands of faithful who arrive from all over the province of Reggio Calabria.
The original village was completely destroyed in a volcanic eruption and the survivors founded a nucleus that they called Ardore, in memory of the original village. Historically, it seems that the name Ardore is of Byzantine origin, as seems to be confirmed by the names of some places that still exist, such as the hamlet of Petrazometa, dialectal metathesis of the Greek trapezometa meaning ‘canteen’, ‘table’. In the past, the village was invaded by the Turks, as evidenced by the so-called ‘Grotte dei Turchi’ (Turks’ Caves), still visible today. Most of the population has now moved to Ardore Marina, which developed on the Costa dei Gelsomini (Jasmine Coast) in the second half of the 19th century, at the same time as the work on the railway along the Ionian coast started. It soon became the most populous urban centre and the most active commercially, surpassing the commerce of the old village where the historic centre remains. Ardore Marina extends along the coast near to a splendid sandy beach, very popular during the summer.
The Madonna della Grotta
Bombile, a distinctive centre noted for its dazzling white rocks which contrast with the farming of olives and citrus fruit, the splendid view of the river at Condoianni and the sanctuary of the Madonna della Grotta, one of the most famous places of worship in Locride and a pilgrimage destination for thousands of faithful who arrive from all over the province of Reggio Calabria, is reached by skirting the beaches. Access to this unique temple was by a flight of 145 steps which opened onto the cavern excavated in a steep sandstone wall. There was a white marble statue of the Virgin Mary, dating to the 16th century, attributed to the school of Gagini, inside. According to legend, a merchant, caught at sea in an extraordinary storm, implored the Queen of the Seas for salvation, promising her the offering of a statue. A miracle happened, the merchant assigned an artist to create the statue who, however, was unable to complete it because he was struck by an incurable disease. When he tried to excuse himself with the merchant, the statue miraculously appeared finished and was of enchanting beauty. After vain attempts at loading the statue onto boats to take it to other resorts, it was put on a wagon drawn by oxen and, with difficulty, crossed the rocky countryside, choosing a cave as the sacred place where it would find shelter. From that moment, Bombile di Ardore became a place of pilgrimage with the resulting construction of the sanctuary. The feudal castle rises on a tuff outcrop in the old centre of Ardore. The square base originally had four towers - two round and two square, at the corners. These hid trap doors in the base which led to various distant parts of the area by following subterranean paths. There are many churches in the Ardore area. The mother church is in the old centre opposite the feudal castle and is dedicated to St Leonard of Limoges and Santa Maria di Lautrenta. The church dedicated to Santa Maria del Pozzo, a name originating from the name of the Pozzicello district where it stands, has many statues, including that of the Madonna del Pozzo.
Wine & food
The traditional cuisine of Ardore, as almost everywhere in Calabria, has simple but very tasty dishes using almost exclusively zero-kilometre ingredients. The Jaluni, a ricotta-based cake, and pesche, a type of pastry full of cream that looks exactly like the fruit it takes its name from (peach), including the external covering with peach leaves, are certainly worth tasting.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 35, Ardore