Cassano all'Ionio

Cassano all'Ionio, the glorious past of the Magna Grecia


Lying at 250 metres of altitude on the southern slopes of the Pollino Massif behind the Sybari Plain, Cassano allo Ionio is one of Calabria’s most renowned tourist destinations due to its many local attractions.

Moreover, Cassano allo Ionio is known also for the hamlet of Sibari, where in archaic times stood the opulent Achaean colony of Sybaris; destroyed by the Crotonians in 510 B.C. and rebuilt by the Athenians with the name of Thourioi.

Parco Archeologico di Sibari (Sibari Archaeological Park), in the area of Cassano, is the site of one of the richest and most important cities of the Magna Graecia.

Cassano is the first human settlement of the Sibari Plain and among one of the first in Southern Italy. In Cassano, a generous and unpredictable nature has designed landscapes and scenes of dazzling beauty which contain, deeply rooted in the land, valuable evidence of an ancient people. The seven hills, the old town centre and the spa complex are part of a route which goes up to the beautiful Baia della Luna, where, in a perfect harmonic and chromatic balance, new tourist sites merge with ancient archaeological finds, that bear witness of a glorious civilisation.

To the ancient agricultural and artisan tradition, Cassano has added tourism, due to a substantial coastline in terms of size and ideal due to its climate and physical structure of the coast. Cassano offers tourist facilities of outstanding quality and timely services for relaxing and unforgettable stays, both due to its breathtaking landscape aspects as well as the benefits of its pristine sea, whose waters are crystal clear. Marina di Sibari and the Centro Nautico Balneare Laghi di Sibari are among the most renowned spa resorts. The latter is commonly known as La piccola Venezia (little Venice): a green oasis, surrounded by the blue Ionian Sea and overlaid by a blue the sky that creates light effects and improves our well-being. The Lakes of Sibari boast an internationally renowned nautical centre; the most important in the Mediterranean basin. Cassano offers many other tourist resources, such as the Parco Archeologico di Sibari (Sibari Archaeological Park), that preserves precious relics of the ancient Sybaris; a truly significant centre of the Magna Graecia, founded by the Achaeans. Numerous excavations and a careful analysis of literary sources have allowed to bring to light the ruins of the ancient Sybaris, which, over time, have been overlaid by the cities of Thurio and Copia In the immediate vicinity of the Archaeological Park, the Museo Nazionale della Sibaritide (National Museum of the Sibari) can be visited; this is a brand new and modern building that collects the historical finds found in the excavations of the archaeological area.

Cassano adds to the tourist offer the beauty of its old town centre, nestled between the rocky spurs of the Pietra del Castello, whose name derives from the presence of ruins of a ducal castle, and the Pietra di S. Marco, which is of particular importance due to the presence of underground caves. The old town centre is full of quaint alleys, fountains and porticos. The heart of the town can be represented by Piazza S. Eusebio, where we find the magnificent Cathedral with the adjoining Museo Diocesano (Diocesan museum) rich in documents of enormous historical importance. The imposing establishment of Terme Sibarite, renowned for its valuable thermal and medicinal water, completes Cassano's tourist offer. The mud of organic nature known since ancient times due to tits surprising therapeutic properties is quite rare in terms of its biological components. This mud is obtained from specific phyto-biological maturation processes of algae of various microbial groups that form a biological community rich in H2S termed “sulfuretum". Mud from the Terme Sibarite is considered useful for treating osteoarthritis and extra-articular rheumatoid arthritis.

The Caves

Grotta della Vucc'Ucciardo is one of the most significant forms of evidence of the natural landscape and archaeological features of the area of Cassano. This is a natural cave, that was formed inside the Grande Pietra del Castello (great stone castle). The cave has been restored for public use, due to a re-purposing of the spaces at the foot of the Pietra del Castello that not only has it allowed to discover details of great beauty but to also use it as an auditorium where cultural events and tourist attractions take place all year-round. The Grotte di Sant'Angelo date back to 250 million years and are located in the bowels of Monte San Marco, a few steps from the old town centre. It is an imposing complex formed by 16 Karst caves that descend into the bowels of the earth for a few kilometres and offers a breathtaking spectacle of colours and shapes. In addition to natural monuments, created drop after drop in millions of years by stalactites and stalagmites, basins and ledges, the caves of Sant'Angelo, also are of great importance from the historical and scientific point of view. For a long period, these were the safe refuge of prehistoric man who left, as a tangible sign of his stay in those caves, the oldest form of writing documented by experts as unique and specific of Italian pre-history. 
"A breathtaking spectacle of colours and shapes. The caves of Sant'Angelo di Cassano by the Ionian Sea, now accessible in all their beauty to tourists, are natural monuments created over millions of years that guard important evidence of prehistoric man. A journey in the bowels of the earth and a must", declared Dorina Bianchi, at the time, undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Assets and Tourism.

Sibari Archaeological Park

The park extends over 168 hectares and is the site of one of the richest and most important cities of the Magna Graecia, whose relics are preserved in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale della Sibaritide (National Archaeological Museum of Sibari). The area was the centre of the Oenotrians, whose civilisation was at its height during the Iron Age, before the arrival in Calabria of the Greek settlers of Achaia in 730-720 B.C. The Greeks founded Sybaris; a flourishing trading centre which saw the transit of goods coming from Asia Minor. The first remains were identified in 1932 and various excavation sites are still in progress. The area of the Archaeological Park is divided into sectors, each of which is identified with the name of the excavation site: "Parco del Cavallo", "Prolungamento Strada", "Casabianca" and "Stombi". The "Parco del Cavallo" contains the most significant remains of the Roman age: a district organised into two large main streets and a theatre; the "Casa Bianca”, instead, contains a section built during the IV century B.C., with a circular tower. The Museo Nazionale Archeologico della Sibaritide, inaugurated in June 1996, is located in the centre of the Sybari Plain, north-east of the Archaeological Park. The Museum is an excellent example of the architecture of contemporary museum and occupies a surface of 4,000 square metres distributed on three levels, which comprise five exhibition units, a central area which has the task of organising the museum’s exhibition halls and a body of services for carrying out the functions of research, study, restoration and conservation. The Museum represents the main cultural and historical centre of the Ionian coast, of the province of Cosenza and between the other five national museums of Calabria, it is the one that displays the most important artefacts from the surrounding area, including pre-colonial discoveries of sites of Francavilla Marittima and Castiglione di Paludi. The museum’s most renowned relic is without a doubt the “Toro Cozzante”; a statuette of bronze found in a building of the ancient Roman colony Copia and dating back to the V century B.C. The exhibit is considered by scholars as the most important discovery in terms of bronze-work of the Magna Graecia after the Riace bronzes.

Diocesan Museum

Cassano’s Diocesan Museum on the Ionian Sea is located in the premises of the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's Palace) that overlooks Piazza Sant'Eusebio. The first room of the Museum houses some paintings on wood and statues from the cathedral of Cassano and perhaps made in Puglia, in Trani. The second room is one of a kind in the scene of museums on sacred art in the province of Cosenza as it displays large paintings, for the most part of southern artists that lead to the Artistic Circle of Luca Giordano and the ancient history of Cassano's diocese. Worthy of mention within the uniqueness of this small but precious Museum are works such as "the Adoration of the Shepherds", "The Madonna with Child between St Francis of Paola and Saint Francis of Assisi" by Vitale, "The presentation of Mary at the Temple", "The Assumption", "the Immaculate" and other paintings of great artistic and historical importance. The museum also showcases silverware and prized altar cards are commonly called “Carte Glorie” of 1839 onwards, discovered in the cathedral and dating back to the rite prior to the Second Vatican Council. The third section displays the liturgical texts, especially Gregorian chants of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, found in churches of the Diocese; in addition, a Virgilian Aeneid and a history of the Kingdom of Naples. There are some sacred garments of bishops and deacons; a bust reliquary dedicated to St Blaise in silver leaf and dishes in copper of German manufacture, used for the collection of alms.

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Ultimo aggiornamento: Apr 17, 2024 7:22 AM