The Costa degli Achei, between sea and culture

Costa degli Achei awaits you among castles, scent of citrus fruits, villages and beaches.
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© Regione Calabria

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The Costa degli Achei, in Calabria, is the place to be if you are hunting for sunrises on the Upper Ionian coast of Cosenza!

The stretch of coastline that from Schiavonea, the Corigliano-Rossano seaside hamlet, continues more or less indented as far as Rocca Imperiale, on the border with Basilicata, is known as the Costa degli Achei in reference to the ancient populations of Greek origin who founded important colonies here (first and foremost Sybaris).

In the approximately 150 km of beaches that make up the Costa degli Achei, landscapes of varied charm abound, including several Blue Flags and dozens of medieval villages overlooking the sea, cliffs, castles and the PDO/PGI products cultivated in the renowned Sibari Plain, with its artificial lakes and tourist port.

A holiday on the Costa degli Achei is an unforgettable dive into the unspoilt sea of Calabria, discovering some of its most ancient settlements.

Tappa 1 - Corigliano-Rossano

Vai alla destinazione

We start from Corigliano-Rossano, two municipalities recently unified in the province of Cosenza. On this first stage, which is worth double, along the Costa degli Achei, we take in history, art, sea and local specialities.

We begin with a visit to the historic centre of Corigliano, in a panoramic position on Serratore Hill, where the marvellous Ducal Castle stands. One of the best-preserved castles in Calabria, it was built in 1073 at the behest of Robert Guiscard and is characterised by its towers, circular donjon and octagonal turret, which can be accessed via an evocative helicoidal staircase surrounded by frescoes, the most "instagrammed" element of the building together with the large Hall of Mirrors.

After visiting the Mother Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and other churches, we relax on the beautiful beach of Schiavonea (Corigliano's seaside hamlet) and the seafront promenade.

The historic centre of Rossano, home of the prized Liquorice of Calabria PDO (to be discovered and tasted at the "Amarelli" Liquorice Factory and Museum), introduces us to the timeless beauty of Byzantine art through two masterpieces of the period, among the region's most precious heritages.

We are talking about the jewel of Romanesque-Byzantine architecture in Calabria: the Abbey of Santa Maria del Patire (or Pathirion), founded in 1095 by Bartholomew of Simeri, and the ancient Gospel Book known as Codex Purpureus Rossanensis (UNESCO heritage site), exhibited at the Diocesan Museum of the same name. 

Tappa 2 - Cassano all'Ionio

Vai alla destinazione

Travelling up the Costa degli Achei we encounter the municipality of Cassano all'Ionio and the beautiful Sibari Plain. We are in an area that offers an immersive experience of nature, archaeology and good food.

It does not escape archaeology enthusiasts that the present location of Sybaris coincides with one of the most important Greek poleis, later a Roman city, of antiquity: Sybaris, which became Copiae for the Romans, reveals its ancient face to us with a walk through the remains of the National Archaeological Park of Sybaris and a visit to the adjacent National Archaeological Museum of the Sibaritide, which exhibits the finds discovered during excavations.

Those who choose Cassano all'Ionio for a seaside holiday will enjoy the natural beauty of its Marina, a unique ecosystem along the Costa degli Achei, which combines golden beaches with the oasis known as the Sibari Lakes: a series of artificial basins created between the sea and the green Mediterranean scrub along the Crati river, with a large canal parallel to the coastline that is the habitat of many migratory birds, as well as a well-equipped tourist port. 

Dreaming of a wellness holiday? Treat yourself to treatments at the Sibarite Thermal Baths and the Sant'Angelo Caves.  

Dulcis in fundo, taste some of the local specialities, fruit of the cultivars of the plain, namely the prized Sibari Rice, among the best Italian varieties, and the Clementine di Calabria PDO.

Tappa 3 - Villapiana

Vai alla destinazione

The third stop on the tour along the Costa degli Achei is the historic Blue Flag resort of Villapiana Lido. The ancient Leutermia of Magna Graecia is now one of the best-loved seaside resorts of the Upper Ionian coast of Cosenza, a perfect destination also for families with children.

The cleanliness of its sea and the 9 km of beach, which is also among the "pet friendly" beaches in Calabria, alternating free stretches with equipped lidos, shallow waters suitable for all swimmers, make it a little corner of paradise.

The historical centre, on the hillside, offers the beauty of several noble palaces, churches and monuments of value, such as the Church of S. Maria del Piano, in Gothic style, and the Convent of San Francesco di Paola.

Not to be missed are the remains of the Medieval Castle and the Capo Saraceno Tower, an integral part of the sophisticated defence system of coastal towers in Calabria.

Tappa 4 - Trebisacce

Vai alla destinazione

The itinerary on the Costa degli Achei takes us to discover the Blue Flag beach of Trebisacce, known as the "Balcony of the Upper Ionian Sea" because of its panoramic position that sweeps from the Sibari Plain to that of Metaponto (Basilicata), and for being rightfully one of the most important "Oil Cities" in Calabria.

In this regard, a visit to the "Ludovico Noia" Museum of Olive Oil Art and Peasant Culture, a true place of identity, which recounts, through the art of oil production, a cross-section of the peasant world and the Mediterranean diet, is not to be missed: housed in an old oil mill, in the town centre, the museum consists of three rooms displaying tools for milling olives, vats for collecting oil and documents.

After a dip in the blue of its sand, gravel and palm-fringed seaside, Trebisacce welcomes us with an encrusted historic centre, a village built in the 16th century to defend itself against Saracen raids. Evidence of this is the ancient city wall known as the Bastion, accessible through four gates. Not to be missed is a visit to the Mother Church dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra, an eastern saint, with its characteristic "trullo" dome, and to the Archaeological Park of Broglio, just outside the town, an interesting Hellenic necropolis with Mycenaean remains.

Tappa 5 - Roseto Capo Spulico

Vai alla destinazione

An unmissable stop along the Costa degli Achei is the medieval village of Roseto Capo Spulico, "City of Roses and Cherries", as its romantic name suggests, and of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia.

A picture-postcard symbol is the Frederick's Castle (Castrum Petra Roseti), one of the best-preserved Frederick castles in Calabria, characterised by its evocative position at the water's edge, which sees it rise on a rock, just a few steps away from another much-loved symbol, the small Incudine Rock, with its unmistakable mushroom shape.

This stretch of the Costa degli Achei has both the Blue Flag and the Green Flag for cleanliness and services. The beach is pebbly and rocky with a transparent seabed, perfect for snorkelling and diving.

A tour of the historic centre allows us to admire the Mother Church, also dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, the Baronial Palace and the charming little Church of the Immaculate Conception (also known as "Santo Totaro"). The San Vitale Fountain is the oldest monument in Roseto Capo Spulico

A visit to the Ethnographic Museum of Rural Civilisation offers an insight into two of the country's symbolic products: roses, cultivated since antiquity (as testified by classical texts), and the cherry, which boasts the De.Co. label and the appellation of "Italy's most beautiful cherry", to which the unmissable Cherry Festival is dedicated in June.

Tappa 6 - Rocca Imperiale

Vai alla destinazione

Sixth and last stop on the itinerary along the Costa degli Achei, the village of Rocca Imperiale stands perched on the coastline and spreads the unmistakable scent of orange blossoms in the air.

It is no coincidence that this is the area where the fragrant Lemons of Rocca Imperiale PGI is produced, a very special native variety of citrus fruit, one of the few that are pleasing to the palate for their sweetness, so much so as to be defined as the "lemons you eat", characterised by multiple blossoming all year round.

In this citrus paradise lies the last stretch of beach on the Costa degli Achei (7 km), once again awarded a Blue Flag, and varied in terms of characteristics and landscape. Not to be missed are the San Nicola Beach and the Seafront Beach.

We reach the medieval village and visit the Swabian Castle, dominating the hilltop, formerly the film set of director Pupi Avati and Totò, and the Monastery of the Observant Friars. The latter is a monastic complex with a cloister with cistern, portico, cells and church, and today houses a fascinating Wax Museum. The Romanesque-style Mother Church and the 17th-century Rosary Chapel are also worth a visit.

When to visit Rocca Imperiale? The last week of August, on the occasion of the poetry festival Il Federiciano, organised by Editore Aletti.

Ultimo aggiornamento: Mar 27, 2024 2:51 PM