Holidays in Isola Capo Rizzuto: sea, history and good wine

From the Protected Marine Area to Sant'Anna CDO wine
Le Castella

© Calabria Straordinaria


It is the largest Protected Marine Area in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe, that which laps the pink beach of Isola Capo Rizzuto, a town of sea and history in the province of Crotone.

One of Calabria's most fascinating naturalistic oases, a favourite summer holiday destination and an iconic place for the evocative seaside fortress known as Le Castella.

Let's find out together what to see and do during a holiday in Isola Capo Rizzuto.

A dive into the Protected Marine Area

Declared "Isola Capo Rizzuto" Protected Marine Area in 1991, the stretch of sea that bathes the municipality of the same name along the Costa dei Saraceni is the pride of the Calabrian sea, not surprisingly awarded the Blue Flag.

Covering 15,000 hectares, within which rare species of Mediterranean flora and fauna coexist, the Protected Marine Area of Isola Capo Rizzuto is the largest in Italy.

Just take a dive in its Caribbean waters to admire its hidden treasures: turtles, starfish, crabs, expanses of precious marine vegetation and ancient wrecks that tell the story and archaeology of the Calabrian sea.

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A point of pride that is crowned by the architectural beauty of Le Castella, the Aragonese fortress at the water's edge that figures among the most iconic images of Calabria.

Built in the 15th century on a small island off the coast, the castle of Isola Capo Rizzuto is accessible via a narrow strip of land. We also visit the fortress inside and note on its surfaces the signs of the many pirate assaults that have taken place there. Protruding from the crenellated walls, the waves of the sea reveal battle remains and reused materials, such as the stones at Punta Cannone (probably a quarry used in the construction of the Temple of Hera Lacinia, on the nearby promontory of Capo Colonna).

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Just outside Le Castella, in the centre of the small square in front, we encounter the half-bust of a mysterious character, which the epigraph informs us is:

"Giovanni Dionigi Galeni - Kilic Ali Occhialì, Castella-Constantinople 16th century".

As it happens, the small widening is called Piazzetta Uccialì. All clear! We are in the presence of the fearsome Ottoman pirate Uluç Alì, also known as Alì the Renegade, Alì the Sword or more simply Occhialì.

He who participated as a commander in the Battle of Lepanto, the only one among the surviving captains, was none other than a child from Isola Capo Rizzuto captured in 1536 by the Saracens of the corsair Barbarossa.

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These fascinating places, suspended between East and West, were the film set of two great masterpieces: L'armata Brancaleone, by Monicelli, and Il Vangelo secondo Matteo, by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Other beaches not to be missed? You'll be spoilt for choice!

With its 34 km of coastline, Isola Capo Rizzuto offers wide free and equipped beaches, wild coves surrounded by greenery, clay shores and headlands.

In addition to the Capopiccolo beach, completely shrouded in Mediterranean maquis, we find the Torre Nuova (or delle Guardie) and Torre Vecchia beaches. Not to be missed are Sovereto and Le Cannella, so called because of its bright red colour reminiscent of cinnamon. Finally, from Cavallucci Beach to Capobianco Beach is a succession of unique shores and seabeds to explore.

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A sip of Sant'Anna CDO

This sunrise territory on the Ionian Sea is also famous for an excellence of Calabrian oenology: the fine Sant'Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto CDO wine.

Among the Km 0 products you absolutely must taste during a holiday in Isola Capo Rizzuto, Sant'Anna CDO wine is made from a blend of local grapes such as Gaglioppo Nero, Malvasia Nera, Nocera, Nerello Cappuccio and/or Mascalese.

With its unmistakable more or less deep red colour, vinous aroma and dry, harmonious flavour, Sant'Anna wine is perfect to accompany an aperitif overlooking the sea with local delicacies, such as the renowned Pecorino Crotonese PDO and spicy Sardella (or Rosamarina), to be spread on crostini for a spicy fish appetiser.

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Last update: Feb 15, 2024 4:07 PM