Visit to the Scolacium Museum and National Archaeological Park

Excursion to the Scolacium archaeological park, from Magna Graecia to Cassiodorus surrounded by olive trees

© Regione Calabria

Art and Culture

The land of Magna Graecia and the Romans lives again in the Scolacium Museum and National Archaeological Park, the ancient city that was later Norman, set in a park of centuries-old olive trees facing the Gulf of Squillace, in the province of Catanzaro.

A stone's throw from the shore of the Ionian Sea, along the Costa degli Aranci, surrounded by a centuries-old olive grove covering 35 hectares, lies the Scolacium National Archaeological Museum and Park. A place of tranquillity and beauty, among the most important national archaeological parks in Calabria.

Let's take a dip back in time and discover the history, legends and beautiful landscapes offered by this glimpse of antiquity.

History of the Scolacium Archaeological Park

The Scolacium Archaeological Park and the adjoining museum fall within the municipal territory of Borgia (seaside hamlet of Roccelletta), in a rural setting of extraordinary beauty. The land on which the present Scolacium Park stands belonged to the large latifundium estate of Baron Mazza, an estate devoted to the production of oil, as attested by the presence of a dense olive grove and the Mill Museum, a fine example of industrial archaeology.

There can be no mistake, since the area, which flanks a pine forest by the sea on the opposite side, is immediately identified by the ruins that emerge by the side of the road, primarily the monumental ones of the great 11th-century Norman basilica, consecrated to Santa Maria della Roccella, which bears witness to the continuity of occupation up to the Middle Ages.

Parco Archeologico di Scolacium
Regione Calabria

On the sea side, Scolacium, history within history, gives us the remains of the Roman Forum, a large rectangular area paved with square bricks and surrounded by porticoes (Caesareum, Curia and Baths). Inside are the remains of a small temple, a monumental fountain and a tribunal. From this area come most of the statues and portraits dated between the 1st and 3rd century AD that can be admired in the Scolacium Museum.

On the hill are the Theatre (1st-2nd century A.D.), with a capacity of 3,500 spectators, and the recently discovered panoramic Amphitheatre from the 2nd century A.D., three thermal baths, a necropolis and the aqueduct.

Parco Archeologico Scolacium
Regione Calabria

But what is the history of the ancient city that today appears in the form of the Scolacium Museum and National Archaeological Park? To find out, one must immerse oneself in the visit, among the paths cutting through the olive grove, and listen to what the remains tell us.

It all began with the arrival of the Greeks, who founded the colony of Skylletion in this sunrise location. No trace remains of the ancient Greek city, as it was totally supplanted by the later Roman city of Scolacium (120 B.C.). The last phase of the site's life is intertwined with the important figure of Cassiodorus, founder of the Vivarium monastic complex, and the Norman presence in nearby Squillace.

When did the discovery of these wonders and the birth of the Scolacium Park take place? It was in 1910 when the archaeologist Paolo Orsi, the first Superintendent in Calabria, agreed with the owner of the estate to purchase a monumental bronze arm found in the olive grove. Since then, archaeological interest in the area has led to the first excavations by Ermanno Arslan (1965) and to the state expropriation that transformed the area into today's Scolacium Archaeological Park.

New findings during subsequent excavation campaigns have also enriched the small antiquarium of the origins, which is now an integral part of the Scolacium Museum and National Archaeological Park.

Antiquarium Parco Archeologico Scolacium
Regione Calabria

Visit to the Scolacium Museum

The Scolacium Museum completes the visit to the Scolacium Archaeological Park. Its rooms are the place where the main archaeological finds from the excavations and the gigantic statues are exhibited.

The important cycle of Roman statuary and portraiture culminates with the most striking artefact, the colossal bronze forearm acquired by Superintendent Orsi in the early 20th century.

Museo Scolacium
Regione Calabria

The visit to the Scolacium Museum and National Archaeological Park, which lasts about an hour and a half, concludes with an interesting tour of industrial archaeology inside the Mazza Oil Mill (1934), where it is possible to admire the ancient presses for pressing olives and other artefacts related to Calabrian rural life.

A trip to the Scolacium Museum and National Archaeological Park is the perfect opportunity to discover the entire coastline, from Catanzaro Lido to the Bay of the Hippocampus in Soverato, stopping at some of the most beautiful beaches on the Costa degli Aranci.

Last update: Feb 15, 2024 2:59 PM