Among the many scenic wonders of Calabria, the Costa degli Dei is perhaps one of the most famous stretches. The name is used to indicate those 55 km of southern Tyrrhenian coastline from Pizzo Calabro to Nicotera, morphologically very varied, which delimit the so-called Horn of Calabria. The name, in this case, is really a guarantee: the Coast is called the Coast of the Gods precisely because it evokes dreamlike imagery. In fact, there are white beaches, crystal clear sea and seabed full of wonderful living forms capable of making the happiness of every diver.
Following the coast road from north to south you will find places that deserve more than a visit, such as Pizzo Calabro, Tropea, Capo Vaticano and Nicotera. Without forgetting to make a detour in the beautiful Regional Natural Park of Serre.
Itinerary suitable for everyone, practicable by car, recommended in spring, summer and autumn.
Aphrodisiac, antiseptic, anesthetic, diuretic, cures rheumatism, avoids colds and flu and much more: the Red Onion of Tropea Calabria PGI is one of the most famous products of the region, the basis of many typical recipes and home remedies. You can find it in three shapes: round with a sweet taste, conical with a sweet and sour taste, oval with a strong taste. In the local cuisine (but not only) it is now found in so many recipes that it has become almost more indispensable than parsley: from soups to omelettes, from jams to salads, where it can be enjoyed raw in all its crunchiness.
One of the products which best expresses all the spicy soul of Calabria is the 'Nduja of Spilinga. It is a soft and spreadable sausage and, above all, very spicy. Loved by those who prefer strong flavors, historically 'nduja was produced with what remained of the processing of other Calabrian salami. It is then flavored with Calabrian chilli pepper, naturally dried, which gives it its typical fiery red color and unmistakable aroma. It is simply excellent to be tasted naturally spread on bread or pizza, as an appetizer or to make croutons or bruschetta, but also to be put in the sauce to season every kind of pasta.
The Tartufo di Pizzo IGP is the first ice cream in Europe to have obtained the IGP mark thanks to the quality of its artisan production. On the market there are many industrial versions of this sweet, but nothing has to do with the original one: to taste the real Pizzo IGP Truffle you must necessarily go to Pizzo Calabro, where this sweet delicacy was created in 1952, in the Gran Bar Excelsior. In that year, in fact, ice cream maker Giuseppe De Maria, in occasion of an important wedding, ran out of molds and shapes to make ice cream for his numerous guests. So he put a portion of hazelnut ice cream in the hollow of his hand over a layer of chocolate ice cream, he put some melted chocolate inside and wrapped everything in a sheet of sugar paper giving it the typical shape of a truffle. This improvised creation was a real success, which gave immediate fame to the place and to the whole town of Pizzo Calabro. The artisan method has not changed and the truffle is still made in the same way today. But what makes it unique and inimitable is the quality of the ingredients and the use of machinery that is still very old.
In the territory of Monte Poro is produced one of the best sheep cheeses of the South, the Pecorino di Monte Poro. This particular cheese is obtained from the processing of sheep's milk obtained from sheep fed in natural pastures on the slopes of the plateau, sheep Comisana, Sardinian and in some cases of malvizza. Before placing the cheese in the maturing process, the rind is treated with olive oil and chili pepper, which gives the surface a characteristic orange color. Pecorino di Monte Poro can be eaten as early as three months of aging, but it is after medium aging (five to six months) or one year that it releases the best of its flavor.
Stop 1 - Pizzo
Pizzo Calabro is one of the most beautiful and famous towns of Vibo Valentia, with one of the most picturesque villages on the coast, perched on the slope of a picturesque promontory that rises above the Tyrrhenian Sea, right in the middle of the Gulf of St. Eufemia.
The whole village is a treasure trove of fascinating places rich in history to discover, including the Church of Piedigrotta, a wonderful work of art where myths and legends are intertwined that boasts a rather special record, as it exceeds for number of visitors even the much more famous Bronze Statues of Riace.
The Castle of Gioacchino Murat is very famous, as well as the ice cream: the Tartufo di Pizzo, a local gastronomic celebrity.
Stop 2 - Tropea
Going further south there is Tropea, the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea, one of the most popular places in Calabria by national and international tourism. The upper part offers visitors a romantic old town full of life, with restaurants, craft stores and narrow streets full of history. The lower part is close to the sea and the small port, from which you can admire the nearby Aeolian Islands and the volcanic Stromboli.
The beaches of Tropea are simply enchanting, with a crystal clear sea. In July there is the Festival of Blue Fish and the red onion of Tropea, another famous product of the region. Browsing through the narrow streets of Tropea it is very easy to come across real necklaces of this vegetable, which give strokes of an unmistakable purplish red coming down from the walls at the side of the doors.
Moreover, Tropea is one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.
Stop 3 - Ricadi
Proceeding further south is the promontory of Capo Vaticano, in the municipality of Ricadi, which reaches a maximum height of 124 meters and is made of a special white-gray granite studied worldwide for its geological peculiarities. The picturesque coastline and crystal clear sea rich in fish make Capo Vaticano a must for divers and tourists, also attracted by the fascinating hinterland nearby that offers typical products such as 'Nduja of Spilinga and Pecorino of Monte Poro.
Stop 4 - Nicotera
Situated to the southern extremity of the Coast of the Gods, the beach of Nicotera is one of the most frequented of the coast. This location is also the home of the Mediterranean Diet: it is here that in fact, between '57 and '69, its creator, the American professor Ancel Keys, studied the particular longevity of the local population and associated it to the daily consumption of local products. The Mediterranean Diet has been a UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2010, a cultural heritage that Calabria has decided to protect with a special law passed at the end of 2017.
Stop 5 - Serra San Bruno
Lovers of nature excursions would do well, however, to go inland to discover the wonders of a place like the Regional Natural Park of Serre.
Comprising 26 municipalities straddling the provinces of Vibo Valentia, Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria, this place surrounded by greenery has an extension of over 17,000 hectares and became a protected natural area in 2004. The Serre constitute a rather complex mountainous group of high landscape-natural value, which is joined to the south with the Aspromonte Massif. The park is characterized by the widespread presence of woods and forests, Mediterranean scrub, pastures and agricultural crops.
Remarkable importance in the Serre are the places of worship, such as the secular Abbey of the Carthusian Monks of Serra San Bruno, one of the few remaining still in activity, and the tomb of St. Bruno of Cologne, founder of the Carthusian Order, as well as evidence of industrial archeology of the Bourbon era.
Numerous are the sources, the torrents, the rivers and suggestive are the waterfalls, as those imposing of Marmarico that, with a drop of 90 m, plunge into the Stilaro.
The fauna of the Serre today consists mainly of wild boars, foxes, badgers, wild cats, weasels, beech martens, Italian hares and, among birds, herons, eagle owls, hoopoes, peregrine falcons and green, red and black woodpeckers.
An unmissable stop for those who love to discover the wonders of nature.