Bianco has been awarded Europe's Blue Flag for its clean sea, each year attracting a growing number of tourists who constitute the area’s main resource of income. Bianco’s summer highlight is the patron saint’s festivities which take place during the first fifteen days of August with various events that intensify culminating, on 15 August, in the religious feast in honour of the Madonna di Pugliano, that attracts thousands of people.
During the final evening there are two spectacular firework displays. The first at sunset, when the Madonna (after being transported on the shoulders of participants of the procession throughout the town’s streets), makes its entrance into the cathedral. The second fireworks display takes place after midnight, at 1 a.m. It is a truly unforgettable experience due to bigger and more impressive pyrotechnics that blow up also in the water.
The fine white sandy beach is nestled in the splendid setting of the cliff known with the name of Capo Bruzzano, located in the Costa dei Gelsomini (Jasmine Coast).
"Beautiful and a miraculous escape from concrete buildings and mass tourism". These are the words of praise that Legambiente wished to dedicate in 2005 to eleven of the most beautiful Italian beaches, including Capo Bruzzano.
"The beach, vast and unspoilt, is nestled on a spectacular cliff, characterised by a vast seashore dotted with flowers of a thousand colours and by the rocky formations of the cliff curiously carved over the course of centuries, by the tides and wind". Based on this explanation, the rocky coast of Capo Bruzzano, or Zefirio, received on that occasion the award as one of Italy’s eleven most beautiful beaches.
The seashore of modest size is immersed in the wilderness and stretches for many kilometres. It is mainly sandy, although there are some stretches of gravel and rocks.
Vegetation grows lush surrounded by rocks of various shapes. The sea has a colour which changes on moving away from the coast up to become a wonderful cobalt blue. Its crystal-clear shallow waters allow the practice of water sports such as snorkelling and scuba diving. The Costa dei Gelsomini is breathtaking, with very wide bays but less rocky with respect to the Tyrrhenian coast, which is wilder and more rugged. This contributes to creating vast natural spaces which sometimes appear as a mirage and which tourists as spectators are sometimes not at all prepared for.
Bianco’s old town centre can be reached by walking through a small and narrow street that climbs up various levels until reaching the top of a hill that overlooks the "fiumara" or southern river called La Verde.
The site has some features that are common to many other towns of Calabria, with natural defences to make it difficult to conquer the old town, such as a functional visibility to control a large portion of the area and the presence, at a short distance, a substantial water reserve (the southern of La Verde).
In Bianco Vecchio, our gaze is drawn toward the coast, it remains abducted by the glimpse offered by the mesmerising sea. Access to Bianco Vecchio takes place through the south gate; the remains of which are still visible. The number of visits to the village suffered a heavy blow following the terrible earthquake of 1783, which caused the destruction of a substantial part of the town with its subsequent abandonment by many of its inhabitants. In 1908 the earth trembled again, and the abandonment became permanent due to this the powerful force of nature. The village was abandoned, and its survivors moved to the coast, where the modern-day town of Bianco was founded.
In Bianco Vecchio the ruins of ancient houses can still be seen climbing up the hill, still holding on to those terraces on which they were built centuries before. And among these ruins are the silent ruins of the chiesa di Santa Maria del Soccorso, restored several times until its final works when it remained in use until the last violent earthquake.
During its last period, the building was subjected to restoration works aimed at its recovery and enjoyment by visitors, with the reconstruction of the roof and of the northern wall. The goal of these works was to return a symbol of the Community to its own people. The attempt to recover these places, reconstructing the church and living it through the celebrations of ceremonies, expresses the wish of an entire community to not forget its roots.
Worthy of a visit in the current inhabited centre, is the Chiesa Matrice (main church) whose façade features statues in marble of various Saints. Inside there is an ancient painting of Maria SS di Pugliano, a statue of alabaster from 1530 representing Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Egypt and an oil on canvas of 1656-57 which features the portraits of St Michael Archangel and St John the Baptist. The building was built between the 1500-1600s in the same area where since the 1200s existed Pugliano's Basilian Monastery. A part of the shrine, in fact, was rebuilt on the ruins of the old abbey.
The shrine has a single entry and the main entrance door, surmounted by a coat of arms, is flanked by two recessed columns that stretch all the way up the building’s entire height. On the altar there is a parchment with the words "Ave Maria" and a small tabernacle. The sides of the nave feature some niches with statues of Saints.
Typical products include Bianco’s Greco wine; a valuable oenological gem. Connoisseurs will reassure us that this D.O.C. wine is Italy’s oldest wine as it is derived from an ancient grape. In fact, it seems that the first grapevines were brought to this area by some Greek settlers that landed at Capo Bruzzano in the VIII century. Bianco’s Greco has an intense flavour, almost like that of Marsala wine, and a colour which ranges from old gold to amber; its scent is sweet, aromatic, like orange blossoms and bergamot. "Greco" wine is obtained from grapes that are allowed to dry in the sun on reed mats or on wooden bases.
It is, indeed, a dessert or after-dinner wine due to its warm and soft taste that must be consumed alone (as an aperitif or to be enjoyed with pastries, spicy cheese and fruit. Together with the "Greco", the area of Bianco also produces the excellent "Mantonico” wine, which is named after the Greek mantonikòs (prophet). It was believed that these wines had divinatory, aphrodisiac and therapeutic properties. "Mantonico" wine was highly appreciated by priests of the ancient Lokri Epizefiri.