Costa degli Dei, beaches and caves not to be missed

Itinerary on the Vibonese Tyrrhenian Sea, the beach of gods and heroes
VV-Ricadi Capo Vaticano 005

© Regione Calabria


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The itinerary along the Costa degli Dei Regional Marine Park, in the province of Vibo Valentia, is a Caribbean voyage through the stretch of the Middle Tyrrhenian Sea bordered by some of the most popular seaside resorts in Calabria, from Tropea to Capo Vaticano (Ricadi).

The main characteristic of the Costa degli Dei? The extraordinary variety of seascapes, alternating long stretches of fine, golden beaches with breathtaking cliffs that plunge into the sea, between which caves open up or small villages, sanctuaries, lighthouses and Saracen towers rise.

A true spectacle of nature that gazes at the fiery sunsets over the Aeolian Islands and, not surprisingly, according to legend, was home to the Greek gods who came to bathe in these waters to maintain their eternal youth.

Behind, the Mount Poro massif offers the bright green of the Mediterranean maquis and the sea-mountain proximity that characterises the entire region. The itineraries along the Costa degli Dei easily lead from the beaches to the forests, passing through the towns of the inland areas to discover historical-archaeological gems such as the ancient Rupestrian Village of Sbariati (Zungri), also known as the small "Calabrian Petra".

The inland villages offer the opportunity to taste two gastronomic "musts" of the Costa degli Dei, which in addition to the famous Red Onion of Tropea PGI offers the unfailing 'Nduja of Spilinga and the delicious Pecorino of Monte Poro PDO.

Stop 1 - Pizzo

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First stop on the itinerary along the Costa degli Dei is the seaside village of Pizzo.

When Pizzo is mentioned, two undisputed symbols of this location come to mind: the Murat Castle and the delicious Tartufo di Pizzo ice cream.

Tartufo di Pizzo is the local speciality and one of the most awarded ice creams in Europe. Its secret? Hazelnut ice cream moulded in the palm of the hand, in the shape of a hemisphere, covered with a dusting of bitter cocoa and filled with a heart of melted chocolate. More cannot be said, as the secret recipe has been guarded by the historic ice-cream parlours since 1940. 

The secrets of the Aragonese Castle, not by chance known as Murat Castle, are linked to the tragic story of the King of Naples Joachim Murat, who was captured here by the people in revolt and executed on 13 October 1815.

The remains of the king are kept in the Church of St George, one of the most beautiful in the old town, while the story is told inside the castle, now home to the Murattiano Provincial Museum, and during the evocative historical re-enactment that takes place every four years.

Among the gems along the Costa degli Dei is the Piedigrotta Church, a jewel carved entirely out of tuff by local sailors. After visiting it, we recommend a dip at the Marina Beach, the most central and famous, ending with the so-called Pizzapundi, the promenade that allows one to admire the sunset over Stromboli.

Stop 2 - Briatico

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An enchanting seaside resort on the Costa degli Dei, Briatico is a succession of some of the most beautiful beaches and cliffs in Calabria, such as Trainiti, Baia Safò, the Cocca cliff, and the beaches of San Giuseppe and Sant'Irene.

The architectural symbol of Briatico is its delightful Rocchetta, the ruins of one of the most famous Saracen towers in Calabria. The tower is located at the small port and is one of the most photographed spots on the Costa degli Dei.

Among the monuments worth visiting in the town centre is the Mother Church of San Nicola di Bari, founded after the earthquake that destroyed Briatico Vecchia, which preserves the remains of other churches that were lost.

The best time to visit Briatico? June, when the traditional Flower Festival of Potenzoni takes place.

Stop 3 - Zambrone

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Among the unmissable stops along the Costa degli Dei, Zambrone represents the reference point for all diving enthusiasts in Calabria.

It is no coincidence that it is home to the beach known as the "Paradiso del Sub". What is it? Considered one of the best beaches for the spectacular nature of its seabed, with a great variety of marine flora and fauna that can be reached at different depths, this white beach, surrounded by typical Mediterranean scrub and clinging to the rocks, can be reached after walking down a panoramic flight of steps carved into the rock, with a difference in height of about 100 metres. 

The unmistakable element of Paradiso del Sub beach? The presence of the great Rock of the Lion, which takes its name from its characteristic shape.

To enjoy this small, unspoilt paradise to the fullest, we suggest going during the week, avoiding weekends, and taking everything you need (umbrella, water, food, etc.) with you, since the beach is free and not equipped.

Another lovely beach nearby? That of Parghelia.

Stop 4 - Tropea

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There is no itinerary along the Costa degli Dei that does not stop at its little "capital", Tropea, "Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea" among The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy in Calabria and Blue Flag for its crystal-clear sea.

The seaside village of Tropea is a small concentration of art, history, nature and good food. To admire the beauty of its historic centre clinging to the cliff, just take a walk along Corso Vittorio Emanuele and through the alleyways, until you reach the many panoramic piazzas that represent some of the most beautiful belvederes in the region.

The postcard-perfect view? The one that overlooks the Shrine of the Madonna dell'Isola, set on a cliff and reached by a long flight of steps overlooking the sea. Below stretches the unmissable beach of the same name, the starting point for exploring some of the Costa degli Dei's most beautiful sea caves, such as the Palombaro Cave, the San Lorenzo Cave and the Blue Cave.

Other places not to be missed in Tropea are the Cathedral of Maria Santissima di Romania (12th century), an example of Norman architecture, and the aristocratic palaces: Toraldo Palace, the Sedile dei Nobili and Santa Chiara Palace (now the Sea Museum).

This stage of art and typicality ends with a tasting of the symbol product of local gastronomy, the sweet Red Onion of Tropea PGI.

Want to visit the Costa degli Dei in low season? Come and discover Tropea in autumn, or in May, during the traditional feast of I Tri da' Cruci, a historical re-enactment of the defeat of the Saracens.

Stop 5 - Ricadi

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Today it is among the most popular resorts on the Costa degli Dei, but before the tourist "boom" Ricadi was a small fishing village. Let's discover together what makes this splendid seaside resort so special. 

Those who come to Calabria in search of breathtaking landscapes and views resembling Caribbean coves from the movies know that they will find all this in Capo Vaticano, one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in the region, on the Costa degli Dei. The promontory on which the historic lighthouse stands and the beaches around it offer wonderful views in all seasons. Not to be missed are the Tono Beach, Praia di Fuoco Beach, Ficara Beach, Grotticelle Beach and Formicoli Beach.

Each of these beaches is a paradise for those who enjoy diving and excursions among the sea caves, either by swimming or by boat. Another unmissable view can be enjoyed from Marrana Tower, which today is home to the Archaeological Area of the same name.

In the centre of Ricadi, it is possible to visit the Mu.Ri - Ricadi Civic Museum, a network of five exhibition centres located throughout the municipal territory.

If you choose Ricadi and the Costa degli Dei in the low season, know that in September the resort is animated by the events of the "Summer at Berto House" review, linked to one of the most important literary prizes in the region: the "Giuseppe Berto" Literary Prize, in honour of the Veneto writer who found his "buen retiro" in this corner of paradise, composing some of his most famous works.

The best way to say goodbye to Ricadi? By sipping one of the most loved Calabrian liqueurs in the world, the amaro named after this Capo.  

Stop 6 - Nicotera

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Among the most beautiful and welcoming seaside resorts on the Costa degli Dei is certainly Nicotera, the last stop on our tour.

Nicotera is one of Calabria's "hospitable communities" proposing a model of sustainable tourism and "slow living". It is no coincidence that it is home to the annual Hospitality Festival, which takes place between the end of August and the beginning of September and involves the host community and visitors in a series of meetings and events culminating in the now highly anticipated "Sunday lunch".

A veritable terrace overlooking the sea, Nicotera is perched around the Ruffo Castle, built by Robert Guiscard in 1065 (which can only be visited externally), and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Among the historic quarters arranged around these two buildings, one of the most characteristic is the Giudecca (Iudeca), a charming Jewish quarter that was a silk and paper producer under Emperor Frederick II.

Testimonies of local poets, artists and intellectuals are exhibited at the Provincial Bishop's Art Gallery and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.

Nicotera Marina is the long free beach on the Costa degli Dei perfect for families. Here, on 8 December, the evocative Sea Procession of the Immaculate Conception takes place.

Last update: Jun 18, 2024 1:42 PM