Between Norman splendour and evocative landscapes


Cultural historian

Apr 3, 2022 8:33 AM

Travel information


Cultural historian


Amici/Solo coppia

Calabria offers evidence of a warlike past in the powerful walls of the castles that border the region along the coast and inland, fortifications built to defend against frequent foreign incursions and then becoming monuments to architecture and beauty. 
Byzantine and medieval castles, rich in history and culture but also in legends and myths, hidden among the stones of the buildings that have remained standing to defy time, now as then. Ancient vestiges of proud and proud peoples, artistic receptacles under the open sky, Calabria's castles defy in majesty the cliffs that host them and add charm to the surrounding landscape. 
The castles in the Reggio area offered shelter to populations fleeing from overseas pirates and constituted a necessary reference point for the development of culture in periods of great historical turmoil.

The itinerary is suitable for everyone and can be covered by car in all seasons.

Food tips

The area's best-known product is the legendary Greco di Gerace, a 17° liqueur wine made from Greek grapes and produced in limited quantities. The story goes that the Greeks offered it as a sign of hospitality, combined with honey. 
Greco di Gerace is obtained from pure Greco di Bianco grapes, from vineyards located in Gerace. It is characterised by notes of pastry, from panettone with candied fruit to marzipan, pleasant hints of medicinal herbs, and a finish of bitter almond, typical of the area, which gives it pleasantness and a desire for a second taste.

Stop 1 - Stilo

Go to the destination

Stilo is one of the most beautiful and visited towns in Calabria, thanks to its land rich in history and monuments, its ultra-millennial culture and the numerous events that take place throughout the year, offering pleasant surprises to visitors. 
The old town centre and the nearby village contain a maze of narrow streets, houses attached to each other almost as if to support each other, courtyards and small gardens that create glimpses of enchanting poetry, majestic noble palaces, beautiful churches and above all the walls with towers and city gates, which give Stilo the appearance of a typical medieval town and make it one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.
The wonders of Stilo are many and its position perched on the fiumara, guarding the Ionian Sea, tell of the extraordinary culture that emanates from this place, which interprets and represents that of the whole of Calabria.

The first evidence of the presence of the Norman Castle of Stilo dates back to 1093, when the Normans chose the village for its strategic position dominating the entire Stilaro Valley. 
The castle was surrounded by various defensive works that made it absolutely impregnable, and some of these can still be identified along the Consolino hillside. Other barrages, water tanks and shelters preceded the castle proper, which had autonomous fortifications crowned by several semicircular towers. Of the vast fortification, there remain ruins of the perimeter walls, towers and the entrance gate. 
Today it is possible to visit the Castle of Stilo thanks to the works carried out on the access route, from which you can admire a beautiful landscape that reaches the sea, from Capo Spartivento to Crotone.
In addition, a small monorail has recently been built to facilitate access to this breathtaking place.

Stop 2 - Gerace

Go to the destination

Lost in the heights of Locride, the village of Gerace offers its Norman and Byzantine soul, displaying its simple and elegant beauty. 
Carved out of the rock, on a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea, Gerace is a maze of alleyways that weave a landscape where culture and nature slip into one another. The foreign dominations reflected in the different styles of the town's marvellous buildings have left a complex artistic identity, in which the energy of a proud and elegant land vibrates. 
In Gerace, everything speaks of civilisation, cultural exchanges and deep religiosity: the town of 128 churches, of which only 17 remain today, was called the Holy City.
The formidable artistic concentration of churches and palaces does not tell the whole story of Gerace's charm, which continues intact through the narrow streets, in the small squares, the arches, the subways, the rich portals, the surviving domed wooden ovens for baking bread, the walls steeped in history, reserving splendid surprises, dazzling as precious stones. And then there is the Cathedral, a marvellous work of art, one of the most important in southern Italy and the largest in the whole of Calabria.

The Castle of Gerace rises right on top of the fortress around which the original town centre developed. Built during the 7th century A.D. as a simple fortification, the manor certainly already existed in the mid-10th century, when the arrival of Byzantine troops razed it to the ground along with the devastation of the entire town. 
The castle was surrounded by strong defensive walls and was equipped with ingenious systems for channelling rainwater, which flowed into the large central well. Within the castle area there was also a small Byzantine oratory with an apse enriched with valuable pictorial decorations, which remained functional until the 17th century.
Only a few remains of the old castle can be seen, consisting of a cylindrical tower, sections of wall and a few scattered ruins. It was once connected to the town by a drawbridge and was a refuge for the population in case of danger in the town. Of particular interest are the clearly visible remains of the imposing central cylindrical tower, long monolithic plinths, and walls made of megalithic blocks from the cliff of Gerace.
In the area in front of the castle there is a square, called the Baglio, which was once reserved for trade and military activities. From the Baglio there is a splendid view over the town of Antonimina and the entire valley of the same name, which is home to the thermal baths and the famous Acque Sante Locresi.

Stop 3 - San Giorgio Morgeto

Go to the destination

San Giorgio Morgeto is laid out in steps and stands on a hill, at the top of which are the ruins of a Castle, surrounded by a pine forest. 
San Giorgio is one of the 37 municipalities that make up the Aspromonte National Park. It is situated on the south-eastern edge of the Gioia Tauro plain, on the flanks of the short, compact ridge that welds the greenhouses of Aspromonte, from which the Aeolian Islands can be seen. 
A town of medieval origins, San Giorgio is laid out in tiers and stands on a hill, at the top of which are the ruins of a castle, surrounded by a pine forest. The castle, dating back to early 1296 and whose origins blur between history and legend, is a typical example of Norman-Swabian architecture and is currently being restored.
On the peak rising behind the town is the historic centre, which retains the charm of a medieval village, with monuments, buildings of considerable architectural value and numerous churches. The entrance to the town is dominated by the ancient Dominican convent where Tommaso Campanella studied.

Probably built in pre-Norman times, around the 9th-10th century AD, the sumptuous Morgezio Castle dominates the entire Gioia Tauro plain and its majesty is visible from the entire surrounding area. Inhabited, according to legend, by King Morgete, a descendant of the Enotria lineage, the castle made the entire town impregnable during the Saracen invasions.
Due to its location on a rock, its remains can be visited throughout the year, also thanks to the care taken by the relevant authorities to manage the entire surrounding nature park.