REGGIO CALABRIA

The city lies on the Aspromonte spurs. It stands in a splendid position along the Eastern coast of the Strait of Messina. The bright promenade, that the poet D’Annunzio praised greatly, is the historical memory of the town. It is in fact adorned with the monuments of famous local people, remains of the Greek walls (4th century B.C.) and Roman thermal baths with black and white mosaic floor. The seaside boulevard leads to the Villa Comunale (City Park); the Stazione Sperimentale delle Essenze e degli Oli Agrumari (Experimental Station for the Essences and Citrus oils) stands in the nearby and it is concerned with studies on jasmines and bergamots. Moreover, it houses research laboratories, a specialized library and the Bergamot Museum that keeps the objects that were once employed to process the scented citron. Reggio (Rhegion) was founded by colons from Calcide, a city in the Euboea island in the 8th century B.C.. Due to its geographical position and enlightened government, it became one of the main cities in Magna Graecia. The history of ancient Reggio goes hand in hand with the historical events in the Mediterranean Sea: wars against Persians and Etruscans, alliance and competition with Carthage, relationships with the Greek homeland and the consequent alliance with Sparta against Athens, the continuous conflicts with the Sicilian tyrants, the Syracusan ones in particular, who dominated Reggio in the fourth century B.C.. It was a commercial and bellicose city and was conquered by the Romans in the third century B.C. After being federated, it became a Roman municipium in the 89 B.C. Under the Empire, it kept Greek language and characters, and its favorable geographical position saved the town from the general decay that involved the Region in the first centuries after Christ. Few signs of this glorious past survived because several earthquakes (the most destructive of which occurred in 1783 and, most of all, in 1908) hit the town and destroyed almost everything. However, ruined pre-Roman walls, remains of a 5th-century temple, Odeon, Hellenistic tomb and Roman Thermal baths with mosaic floors are still visible. Reggio Calabria cuisine, more than any other Italian regional one, is closely dependent on religious and spiritual life, and it follows rules and habits connected to ancient events, being the result of about 3000 years of history, from Magna Graecia to Unification of Italy. On Christmas and Easter, the custom is to offer thirteen courses, while during the Carnival period, people eat maccheroni and pork meat. Easter is celebrated by eating roast lamb and “spiritual” breads, and the same happens in other feast days. Familiar events (weddings, deaths, baptisms) are always celebrated with a specific dinner. Today’s habits are not so strict, but several customs have survived. Local food has not greatly changed, the dishes have different origins depending on the populations that inhabited the area. Of great importance are the preserved foods including anchovies (in oil and hot pepper), sausages (like ‘nduja and Calabrian soppressata), cheeses, in-oil vegetables and dried tomatoes, that allowed population to survive during famine or siege periods by Turkish pirates.




 


Piazza Italia

89125 Reggio Calabria

Telefono 0965 362111

Fax 0965 3623843 

www.comune.reggio-calabria.it

 

 

Reggio Calabria is a treasure chest full of precious places that are worth a visit: the magnificent villa Genovese-Zerbi (1925) is similar to the 16th-century Venetian houses, with Gothic arches; Palazzo Spinelli, built in 1920, has a wonderful wrought-iron gate and houses the University Head Offices; the splendid Palazzo Guarna (1921) has Classic-style features. Corso Garibaldi runs parallel to the promenade, and it is always crowded and lined with fashionable shops. Gianni Versace, the renowned Calabrian fashion designer, was from Reggio Calabria, and his fortune began in his mother’s sewing business that was located in Via Tommaso Gullì 13, where his talent and passion manifested themselves. He left Reggio for Milan and conquered the international market. Despite his success, the great stylist never forgot his origins which inspired his collections: styles and colors reproduce the features of the Mediterranean culture. Those who love noisy and picturesque places have to visit the Piazza del Popolo street market, where the common practice is to bargain for the best price. Those who love 20th-century art, will be glad to know that the birthplace of the Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni stands in Via Cavour 41. Common elements of his artworks are the oblique perspective and above view. A whirling and uncontrollable movement characterizes his works; following his Futuristic concept, life continuously flows so that it is impossible to isolate an object from its context. A visit to the Reggio landmarks is like a rendez-vous with art history; the clear and bright Duomo, built in a gothic style; the ruined castle (two mighty towers and rests of the city walls); the Church of the Ottimati, of Medieval origin but remodeled in the 18th-century, that keeps columns and parts of a floor mosaic belonging to the ancient building; the Municipal Theater dedicated to Francesco Cilea, the great Calabrian musician. It faces Palazzo San Giorgio and it is bordered by Corso Garibaldi on the West, Via Cattolica dei Greci on the South, Via del Torrione on the East and Via Osanna on the North. It can sit 1500 people and is the largest theater in Calabria. Those who love astronomy can visit the Provincial Planetarium. The starry vault is reproduced by casting the images of stars and celestial bodies on a hemispheric screen above the viewers. Generally speaking, the term planetarium refers to the entire building that houses the projection apparatus and the dome. The external dome of the Planetarium geode has a 12 m diameter. The entire structure (both the shell and its external covering) is made in stainless steel. Inner seats are 70. The inner dome is made in stainless steel as well and it has a diameter of 8 m. 3200 stars are positioned in the 440 mm inner sphere.

The port of Reggio, and Villa San Giovanni as well, are important maritime hubs that connect Sicily to Calabria, through scheduled services with Messina and the Aeolian Islands. Along the Reggio Calabria-Messina route, the passenger traffic is carried by fast ships, while commercial vehicle transport by private ferry-boats. The port will enjoy a sea metro service for fast passenger transport between the cities of the Strait (Messina, Reggio Calabria and Villa S.Giovanni). Reggio is also connected to Malta through ferry-boats that carry people and vehicles twice a week. The Port of Reggio is not only for passenger and commercial traffic, but also for pleasure craft. The port area houses a touristic dock with 48 moorings. The port area is directly connected to roads and highway (direct interchange to Highway A3). The port of Reggio consists of an artificial harbor protected on the east by a N-S wharf. A touristic dock for pleasure craft is located North-East of the entrance.

Reggio Calabria castle was subjected to remodeling, enlargement, demolition, collapse (due to man, time and nature) that deeply altered its original shape. Byzantine and Norman defensive structures probably were erected on the hill where the castle stands, and, as claimed by some scholars, they were partially included in the fortress built under the Swabian rule. During the Aragon period, the castle was enlarged and fortified on the hill sides to resist Turk attacks and Charles VIII’s menaced invasion. The following structures date back to the Aragon period: two strong round towers on the south side (still visible), moats and, on the north-eastern side, the ravelin that was then destroyed by the earthquake in 1908. The castle maintained its 15th-century characteristics till early 19th century, when it was converted into barracks. In this period, the castle was remodeled, some rooms were demolished and adapted to the new use. The violent earthquake of 1908 partially destroyed fortification and deleted the original shape forever.

The National Museum of Reggio Calabria is one of the most prestigious archaeological museums in Italy, since it houses a great number of remarkable evidences of the Magna-Graecia colonies in Calabria. The Museum building overlooks the central De Nava Square and is located near the entrance of the promenade «I. Falcomatà». It was designed, one of the first cases in Italy, expressly to house a museum. The designer was Marcello Piacentini, one of the most renowned architects of the fascist period, that designed the modern building after he visited the main European museums. The creation of a National Museum was suggested by the sovrintendente Paolo Orsi who wanted to keep together the objects from the City Museum, that existed since 1882, and the artifacts from excavations campaigns he carried out in Calabria. The Museum was opened in 1959 and it has greatly changed over time. In 1981 the area dedicated to underwater archaeology was opened to properly house the world renowned Riace Bronzes found in 1972. Moreover, the second-floor area was arranged and dedicated to the Magna Graecia colonies. The exhibition itinerary starts from the ground floor, with a Section dedicated to Pre-history and Proto-history that retraces the history of Calabria from the appearance of man till the Iron Age, that is the period when Greeks arrived to Calabria and permanently settled in the colonies. The Pre-historic section keeps decorated vases, grave goods and bronze objects. The following section is dedicated to Epizephyrian Locris, one of the most flourishing and studied colonies. The evidences from excavations carried out in the ancient and dynamic Magna Graecia cities in Calabria are exhibited here. The area dedicated to Locris keeps an extraordinary collection of pinakes (5th century B.C.), clay votive tablets, dedicated to the Goddess Persephone to ask her protection for wedding knots. The section also houses the Cavaliere of Marafioti (a terracotta sculpture), a temple’s trabeation with animal heads and a fronton with the Dioscuri group; black-figure vases, terracotta small statues, female heads, small altars (objects used in worships and related rituals) and polychrome relief plate. The Magna Graecia Section keeps Greek colony artifacts mainly found in Calabria sacred areas and necropoles. They include epigraphs and gold and silver coins. The Medieval Byzantine and Modern Art Section houses, among other artworks, two small boards painted by Antonello da Messina, one of the main Italian 15th-century painters, and Il ritorno del figliol prodigo (The Return of the Prodigal Son) by the Calabrian Mattia Preti, one of the most important 17th-century Italian painters. The most fascinating Section is without doubt the one dedicated to Underwater Archaeology. It includes an ancient ship sank between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., several amphoras found in the Calabrian sea, the Ritratto del Filosofo (The Portrait of a Philosopher) but, above all, the celebrated Riace Bronzes, two magnificent warriors dating to the 5th century B.C.; in making them, the artist followed the Classical Greek ideals of perfection. The Underwater Archaeological Section is located in the Museum basement. The first floor houses the Numismatic Section and findings from the main ancient Calabrian cities: Metauros, Medma and Hipponion, Kaulonia, Cirò, Laos and Temesa. A Picture Gallery that belonged to the City Museum was kept at the second floor; it was recently moved to a dedicated area at the Reggio Municipal Theater.



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