Santa Caterina dello Ionio

Santa Caterina dello Ionio, the caress of slow tourism


Santa Caterina dello Ionio is in the province of Catanzaro, located at the southern end of the Gulf of Squillace, on the Ionian coast of the Calabrian Serre.

The scenery is composed of great stretches of olive groves and boundless vineyards that contrast with the cool colours of the sea.

In Santa Caterina, life flows peacefully; here, the hectic pace and frenzy of tourist resorts takes a back seat to a slower pace that allows for rediscovery and to slow tourism.

And it is such a wonderful image: blends of unrivalled colours from emerald green to blue hues that alternate with the white of endless beaches inhabited by seagulls who used to live in perfect ecological balance. Slow tourism and the possibility of enjoying both sea and mountains, allow visitors to enjoy nature in complete tranquillity. In Santa Caterina, life flows peacefully; here, the hectic pace and frenzy of tourist resorts takes a back seat to a slower pace that allows for rediscovery and to slow tourism.

The village is divided into two places; the Marina and the inland or upper village, located approximately 9 km from the coast. Also called Santa Caterina of Badolato, the old village is located on a hill between the valleys of the Ponzo and Lunarì streams and was founded by refugees from the coast. The area’s main produce are citrus fruits, olives and grapes. The production of oil and wine has long prevailed in the local economy as well as that of figs and high quality peaches of the orchards at the tower of S. Antonio. The town boasts many churches that deserve a visit such as the Chiesa Matrice, headquarters of the Arciconfraternita del SS. Sacramento, which has the shape of a Latin cross with three naves. Following the terrible fire of 29 July 1983 that destroyed a large part of the inhabited town centre, the Church remained almost totally destroyed and unusable until 2003, when it was reopened following restoration works. The Chiesa San Pantaleone (Church of San Pantaleone) has a rectangular floor-plan, with the greater altar built from polychrome marble and a human-sized statue of a saint. The Chiesa dell'Immacolata Concezione (Church of the Immaculate Conception) is perched on a ravine drop and has a rectangular floor-plan. The church contains paintings of unquestionable artistic value. The Chiesa del Rosario (the Church of the Rosary) is owned by the Confraternita del SS.Rosario and was initially dedicated to San Domenico. Subsequently, after some enlargement works, the image of the Vergine del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary), to which it was dedicated, was placed on the altar. The Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria (Church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria) was built by the people at the place where the Patron Saint appeared to Saracen invaders before driving them out. The Convento di San Francesco (the Convent of San Francesco) was founded in 1580 and has hosted many Capuchin Friars. Demolished and rebuilt, it took the name of "Casa Famiglia Di Francia” (Di Francia child-care family home" with an adjoining elementary school and welcomed many children in need of assistance until 1997, the year in which it was closed.

Sea and mountains

Santa Caterina's strategic position, halfway between the mountains and the sea, offers a wide range of opportunities for a varied and intense holiday, in a quiet, reserved spot, outside mass tourism networks. Perfectly suited for groups of friends even with children who would like to spend a stress-free holiday in a simple and comfortable family environment. The beach of Santa Caterina dello Ionio Marina is located at about six kilometres from the historical town centre and is preferred among the quietest beaches of the Ionian coast visited by families with young children; so much so that in 2019 it obtained the prestigious Green Flag award of paediatricians reserved for beaches which are more suitable for children. The coastline is varied; from a beach of fine white granite sand to a rocky coast with a cliff plunging into the sea, with many beautiful coves (accessible with watercraft) that beg to be explored. In the surroundings, divers can enjoy the wreck of Captain Antonio, a merchant ship 90 metres long and 9 metres wide sunk due to a strong storm in 1987 offshore Santa Caterina. From horse riding along the seashore to breathtaking sunsets there is plenty on offer for an unforgettable experience. Santa Caterina is located at the foot of the mountains of the Calabrian Serre, which connect the Aspromonte National Park with the Sila Piccola. Do not miss the opportunity to go on a hike to the woods to the waterfalls of Bivongi or Dark Valli Cupe, where you will be greeted with the typical settings of paradise: a setting of lush subtropical vegetation, embellished by the extraordinary colour of the rock that forms the backdrop to sea dives.


A visit to Santa Caterina also means rediscovering traditional flavours; genuine home-made cooking where recipes and food products are all artisan made. Fresh fish and genuine produce from the land, processed fully complying with old traditions, in order to enjoy the numerous recipes and local specialities from an ancient and cultured civilisation, is a privilege reserved to only a few. The catoj (ancient basements used as taverns), where toasts are made with great local wines in the company of fellow guests, delighting the palate with typical products such mostaccioli biscuits from Soriano Calabro, cheese from the Calabrian Serre, nduja from Spilinga and red onions.

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Ultimo aggiornamento: Feb 15, 2024 4:33 PM