Borgia, along the trails of History


It is difficult not to be enchanted by Borgia; a town just a few kilometres from Catanzaro and magical place that represents one of Calabria's pristine corners with just under 40 hectares of ancient olive trees which cover in green hills that descend to kiss the blue water of the Ionian Sea.

The town of Borgia was a subcolony of Kroton founded for the control of the isthmus separating the two Calabrian seas. In 123-122 B.C. Caio Gracchus and the Roman Senate founded the colony of Minervia Scolacium.

The historical ruins of the theatre and amphitheatre of the Roman colony of Scolacium (or Scylletium) are of considerable cultural and historical impact.

In 96-98 A.D. the Emperor Nerva sent there a fresh colony under the name of Minerva Nervia Augusta Scolacium and the city was enriched with the new amphitheatre, the stage of the new theatre and the thermal baths. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1783, the original town of Borgia was rebuilt in another site and today is an urban centre full of elegant buildings, monuments and churches as well as ancient sculptures. The historical town centre includes Villa Pertini, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Ortona, where visitors can admire the Cathedral of 1852 dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and the monument dedicated to the fallen of the war that adorn the town. Immersed in a thick and exotic vegetation of centuries-old olive groves, are the great archaeological park, the imposing ruins of the basilica di Santa Maria della Roccella, the theatre and the amphitheatre of the Roman colony of Scolacium; a city with a thousand-year history inhabited in ancient times by the Greeks, Bruttians, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens and Normans. Borgia's coastal area stretches for about 6 kilometres with white sandy beaches, between Catanzano Lido and Squillace Lido, which retain the same morphology. The seashore overlooks the Ionian Sea along the Costa degli Aranci (Orange Coast) and is surrounded by a lush pine forest that softens the climate during the hottest hours of the day. The sea is crystal clear and deep.

Archaeological Park of Scolacium

The Archaeological Park of Scolacium and adjoining Antiquarium emerged in 1982 in Roccelletta of Borgia, in a vast area cultivated with olive trees. Unfortunately, little remains today of the period prior to the Roman occupation. The area, in addition to being affected by the presence of the remains of the Norman basilica of the XI century (consecrated to Santa Maria della Roccella), preserves the remains of the ancient Roman colony of Scolacium, built in 120 B.C. above the ruins of the Greek colony of Skylletion. It is possible to admire paved roads, aqueducts, mausoleums, as well as tombs, the thermal baths and the basilica. Excavations which began in 1965 did not find masonry structures of the Greek city, but abundant pottery material and jewels of the VI century B.C. which would lead us to believe that there was a topographic overlap of the two cities. The material discovered is on display at the Antiquarium. Much more significant are the remains of walls of the city of Scolacium: heading out towards the sea, visitors can find the Roman Forum; a large rectangular area paved with square bricks and surrounded by arcades, which also houses the remains of a small temple, a monumental fountain and the courts. A great number of statues and portraits were found in this area. Of notable artistic importance is the theatre, formed in the natural slope of the hill and able to accommodate 5,000 spectators that was built over the course of the first century before Christ and remodelled during the following centuries. But the embellishment of the theatre was but a part of the comprehensive upgrading, when Scolacium underwent significant monumental town planning operations with the enlargement of the whole town. Most of the archaeological material recovered during the excavations of Roccelletta of Borgia came from the theatre of Scolacium, among which are the marvellous architectural fragments and sculptural groups of high artistic quality, as some head portraitS of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian period, in addition to two large togati statues in white marble. Recently, above the hill, the following were identified: a natural amphitheatre of the II century A.D., three thermal baths, a necropolis and the aqueduct.

Santa Maria della Roccella

Not to be missed are the ruins of the basilica di Santa Maria della Roccella; one of the largest churches in the whole of Calabria. According to important findings, the building can be traced back to the first years of the Norman conquest (1075-1090) and displays architectural features that show a mixture of and Oriental and Byzantine cultural influences. A convent was attached to this church which was later abandoned by friars due to malaria and pirate raids. The basilica offers a wonderful spectacle guaranteed by the contrast between the great earthy colour of its mighty walls and the green of olive trees that completely surround it. All that remains today are the walls of the large nave, the façade's window, the left apse and decorative niches of apses.

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Ultimo aggiornamento: Jul 15, 2020 1:30 PM