Pizzo (VV)

The city of gelato

Located right in the centre of the Gulf of Sant’Eufemia, it is one of the most picturesque and famous towns in the Vibonese area. It also boasts one of the most charming coastal villages which perches on the slope of an enchanting promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Pizzo has become a modern town and holiday resort renowned for its wide sandy beaches, clear sea, enchanting old town, and rock-filled coves.
 
The origins of Pizzo date back to the times of ancient Greece. The town was important for many historical figures: Cicero often stayed there and it was also the resting place of Saint Peter on his journey to Rome as well as of Ulysses, as reported by Pliny.
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Pizzo’s world-famous speciality is the renowned Tartufo di Pizzo, an artisan ice-cream with a rounded shape and an irresistible heart of melted choco-late.
 

Important historical relics can be found in the Aragonese Castle which dates back to the 15th century and was where Joachim Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte's brother-in-law and King of Naples, was held prisoner and later sentenced to death.
The whole village is a treasure chest brimming with fascinating historical places just waiting to be discovered. From the 15th century Aragonese Castle we make our way through the squares and alleys to a very special church known as the Chiesetta di Piedigrotta (little church of Piedigrotta). This magnificent work of art where myths and legends intertwine lays claim to a rather special record: in terms of visitor numbers, it exceeds even the more well-known Bronzes of Riace.

 
Pizzo Calabro
 

The church was built into a rock face that opens into a cave full of shells. The cave itself, which is well-defined and complex with areas of varying depths, houses groups of statues, frescoes, and chiaroscuro, which create an iridescent and mystical atmosphere. The environment changes according to the slant of the sun's rays which filter into the space through carefully designed openings.
With no less than 14 ice-cream shops, Pizzo is recognised as the "City of Gelato” thanks to the Tartufo di Pizzo, which was created in the town. This traditional, artisan ice-cream is now enjoyed throughout Calabria and in various other areas of Italy.
Pizzo is also well-known for its ancient tradition of tuna fishing, which dates back to Roman and Arabic times. Nowadays, tuna fishing is practised with sophisticated instruments and computerised boats and the abundance of tuna in this stretch of sea, combined with the old tradition of conservation, has facilitated the birth of an industry specialised in the canning and large-scale sale of tuna.
Pizzo Calabro is also known as a city of love on account of the steep staircase in the historic centre named “vicolo del bacio” (kissing alley). The staircase is decorated with photos and images of the most famous kisses in film, literature, and music to attract young and old couples alike.

 
Historic Centre

Pizzo is famous for its beautiful churches including, first and foremost, the Cathedral of San Giorgio located in the town centre. This baroque-style cathedral was completed in 1632 and features a marble portal created by sculptor Fontana and a statue of Christ by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
 On the beach, however, we find the Church of Piedigrotta. This completely unique structure was dug into the sandstone rock face at the end of the seventeenth century by shipwrecked Neapolitans who wanted to thank God for saving their lives. Inside you can admire many statues carved in tufa stone by Angelo and Alfonso Barone. These sculptures are particularly striking when illuminated by the light that filters through the cracks in the rock.
The historic centre boasts many examples of civil architecture, such as the Palazzo Musolino, which is the most important building in Pizzo from both a historical and architectural point of view. The Palazzo was built in around the 17th century on the ruins of an old Basilan Convent. The 18th-century Palazzo Mattei is characterised by its imposing architecture which is enhanced by a portico supported by pillars with cross vaults and three round arches decorated with pilasters. This combination of features makes it one of Pizzo's most beautiful buildings.
The charming narrow streets of Pizzo's old town, especially during balmy summer evenings, are packed with residents and tourists who are enticed by the many clubs concentrated in the lower part of the town right by the sea.
Another interesting attraction is the Museum of the Sea, with a section exhibiting various tools for the construction of boats, and another dedicated to the sea which displays shells, crustaceans, and skeletons of aquatic mammals as well as some embalmed sharks.

 
Pizzo Calabro
 
Aragonese Castle

The Aragonese Castle of Pizzo is dedicated to Joachim Murat, who spent his last days here until his execution on 13 October 1815. Inside the Castle, the rooms have been set up to portray the last moments of the King of Naples’ life.
The castle, which is now a national monument, was built in 1400 at the behest of Ferdinand I of Aragon. It was originally built as a prison and military fortress rather than a noble residence. In keeping with the style of Renaissance military architecture, it features two cylindrical corner towers and a large quadrangular body with casemates and ground floors that descend perpendicularly to the cliff. The other side is surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge. The fortress was equipped with walkways leading out of the town which were built to defend the coast from attacks from the sea.
The entrance door recalls the drawbridge and the plaque in memory of Joachim Murat which is affixed to the portal.
 One of the Castle’s many highlights is the Bust of Joachim Murat, made in 1812 by French sculptor Jean Jacques Castex. In the same room you can admire the marble helmet and the remains of the statue of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon which was sculpted by Canova and De Vivo and destroyed in 1860 by Garibaldi's brigade.
Meanwhile the trial room displays a collection of coins from a private collection which was donated to the Municipality of Pizzo.
Inside the castle, a historical reconstruction tells the story of the last few days of Murat's life, portraying the different moments of his imprisonment in the various areas of the Castle. The prison has been recreated within the cells of the dungeons and the first floor portrays the scene of the trial. The second floor of the castle portrays the cell in which the King spent the last few moments of his life, where he wrote his farewell letter to his wife and four children.

 
Pizzo Calabro
 
Church of Piedigrotta

The church of Piedigrotta is the highest rating monument in Calabria in terms of consistency and visitor numbers. Through a combination of history and legend, it introduces visitors to art, religion, anthropology, and culture.
The church's access route gives visitors a taste of the unique scenery that awaits them. It starts down a staircase that leads to both sides of the Gulf and to the cliff which is lapped by a sea marked with rippling reflections of the sun. The area is so magical that you wouldn't be surprised to see a mythological creature appear right before your very eyes. You will finally arrive at a cave that offers a perfect mixture of art, religion, anthropology, and culture: it is a true gem that will enchant just about anyone. Divided into three rooms, it displays a series of statues whose reflections and contrasting colours can be seen peeping out from behind the water springs. At the end of the nineteenth century, Angelo Barone, an artist from Pizzo, started work on this Carthusian monastery. He worked on it day after day and year after year until, slowly but surely, it became the church we see today. He sculpted the statues directly into blocks of tufa stone using a mattock and a pickaxe. The result is an extraordinary group of statues depicting the life of Jesus and the Saints. Barone was helped by his son Alfonso who, on the death of his father, further embellished the interior with frescoes.
The cave has three entrances which lead, respectively, into each of the two side vaults and the main, central vault. The tufa rock is supported by arches and pillars and its religious subjects include the Madonna of Pompeii, the life of Jesus, and a beautiful nativity scene that perfectly conjures up images of the traditions of southern Italy.
The vault on the right hand side is more diverse and its main protagonists are Saint John and the Angel of Death. Many people have declared the church of Piedigrotta to be the most outstanding expression of popular religious art in Southern Italy. It’s certainly no surprise that with its unique yet down-to-earth character it attracts visitors from all over the world.

 
Pizzo Calabro
 
The coast

Lovers of the sea and nature simply must visit the Marina, which is renowned for its beautiful shores where rocky bays and small, enchanting beaches adorn the extensive coastline of the Coast of the Gods.
The beach of Marinella or Nautico, named on account of its proximity to the Nautical Institute, is characterised by its clear water which is perfect for snorkelling or scuba diving. The beach of Piedigrotta is another must-visit attraction. Pineta di Colamaio beach extends across a beautiful stretch of Tyrrhenian coast. It boasts a wide sandy beach, home to the famous Angitola dunes, and a pine forest which also contains eucalyptus trees.
In addition to the beaches you will find many cave-like formations that are true spectacles of nature. The most famous of these has to be Grotta Azzurra (blue cave).

 
Pizzo Calabro
 
Gastronomy

The local cuisine typically contains fish, large quantities of which are caught from the sea just in front of the city. A variety of seafood including cod, stockfish, grouper, shrimps, swordfish, sardines, cuttlefish, tuna, and roe, to name but a few, are all widely used in the traditional dishes of Pizzo.
But Pizzo's world-famous speciality is undoubtedly the renowned Tartufo di Pizzo, an artisan ice-cream with a rounded shape and an irresistible heart of melted chocolate. For years, this traditional artisanal speciality, to which Pizzo owes much of its fame, has enticed and delighted even the most discerning palates.  Very popular in the summer months among the tourists who flock to the Coast of the Gods, for many years this treat has been enjoyed well beyond the borders of Pizzo Calabro in Calabria and various other areas of Italy.

 
Pizzo Calabro
 


 


Address Via Marcello Salomone
  89812 Pizzo (VV)
Phone number 0963 534289
Fax 0963 531166
Website http://www.comune.pizzo.vv.it
 

 

Pizzo seashore has the typical features of a sea village, with narrow streets leading to small courtyards and balconies overlooking the sea, beaches and cliffs. The coast is 8 km long and varies a lot: wide sand beaches alternate with rock cliffs that plunge into the sea and form fascinating inlets. Italian Legambiente and Touring Club have included Pizzo in the 250 most beautiful beaches in Italy and awarded the town with 4 sails.

Looks at Sacred Places

The Church of Santa Maria di Piedigrotta in Pizzo is worth a visit. “Pizzitani” people call it La Madonnella and they gather here on July 9th to celebrate Our Lady of Graces’ day. The church is a rock carved cave, where water flows from the walls. Several natural arcades and pilasters separate the chapels and grottos that house statues and paintings on sacred subjects. The remarkable Castle was built under the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon in 1486 and recently restored. The cell where Joachim Murat was imprisoned before his execution can be visited. The castle, with its two round towers, overlooks the seashore. Murat’s remains are kept in the Church dedicated to Saint George, Pizzo patron saint. The building is a national monument. The original baroque façade dates to 1632. The church houses remarkable artworks that include a 17th-century wooden Crucifix, 16th-century marble sculptures, a large canvas in the ceiling dating to 1778-1828. The Church dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola, and the annexed monastery of the Friars Minor were built in the second half of the 16th century. They are located in the ancient village, characterized by narrow streets and noble buildings. In the seaside district, the remains of several “tonnare” (tuna fishing areas) that were operating till the beginning of the 20th century, are worth a visit. Tuna fishing is still active and the fish is processed following the ancient tradition.

The Church of Santa Maria di Piedigrotta in Pizzo is worth a visit. Local people call it La Madonnella and they gather here on July 9th to celebrate Our Lady of Graces’ day. The church is a rock carved cave, where water flows from the walls. Several natural arcades and pilasters separate the chapels and grottos that house statues and paintings on sacred subjects. Murat’s remains are kept in the Church dedicated to Saint George, Pizzo patron saint. The building is a national monument. The original baroque façade dates to 1632. The church houses remarkable artworks that include a 17th-century wooden Crucifix, 16th-century marble sculptures, a large canvas in the ceiling dating to 1778-1828. The Church dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola, and the annexed monastery of the Friars Minor were built in the second half of the 16th century. They are located in the ancient village, characterized by narrow streets and noble buildings.

The remarkable Castle was built under the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon in 1486 and recently restored. The cell where Joachim Murat was imprisoned before his execution can be visited. The castle, with its two round towers, overlooks the seashore. Pizzo Castle was built at the end of the 15th century, between 1488 and 1492, and it was finished in the following years. King Ferdinand of Aragon had the castle built to defend the town from the Saracen raids, but also from a potential attack by Charles VIII’s army. Charles VIII was in fact the heir of the Angevine House and could lay claim to the Kingdom of Naples; the Aragon king was afraid that Charles VIII could be politically and military supported by nearby towns. Probably a pre-existing tower was included in the new fortress, as reported by 17th-century sources. The quadrangular castle has two massif towers. The fortress was severely damaged by the earthquakes in 1783 and 1908 and it is renowned for being the prison and the place where Murat was executed.

The Museum of the Sea keeps about 100.000 shells, 30.000 of which are displayed; 2000 fossils of marine flora and fauna; cetacean skeletons; stuffed and mummified sharks and fish; examples of sea flora and fauna. The exhibition also includes a collection of tools for boat building and fishing (harpoons, ropes, baskets, nets and so on) and about 400 pictures on sea subjects. In the rooms of the Murat Castle, the last five days of the life of Joachim Murat in the Aragon fortress are presented. Some mannequins wear costumes of the time: Murat’s imprisonment, process, confession and shooting are truthfully reenacted. Bourbon guards, French soldiers, common criminals, French officers, Murat, canon Masdea, Nunziante, Trentacapilli, Franceschetti are all displayed. Moreover, objects furnishings and weapons are faithfully reproduced as well: rifles, pistols, sabers and halberds. Two culverins and two rotary cannons one of which shots from the main tower every day at 12, are also exhibited.



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