The crystal clear water, the secluded white beaches and a fascinating sequence of breathtaking panoramas overlooking sea with the most intense hues make Capo Vaticano one of the finest gems of Tyrrhenian Calabria. A well-known French magazine didn’t hesitate in electing it the third most beautiful beach in Italy and include it in the classification of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world.
Imposing rocks rising from the sea, uncontaminated views covered by vegetation full of fascinating, rare species, well-populated seabeds and panoramic views that extend as far as the eye can see to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands make it a destination to see at least once in a lifetime.
The international renown acquired by the promontory that the tourist resort takes its name from isn’t just due to the enviable geographic position or its history with mythological implications that tell of how, once, an oracle who offered responses to the requests of sailors who had to go to sea, lived in a cave. The beautiful upland that fell perpendicular into the sea also attracted considerable academic interest from researchers worldwide drawn by the geological nature of the magnificent white-grey granite it’s made of.
Like its sea, the rocks of Capo Vaticano have unique shading and very particular shapes reflected in the water enclosed in remote coves, often only accessible from the sea. They are only marked by smooth tuff cliffs, rugged granite walls or massive spurs that sometimes hide gorges and caves that can only be reached in the boats of the most expert fishermen. All this is framed by extremely variegated Mediterranean vegetation in which rare species of prehistoric ferns and dwarf palms, which peep out among broom trees and myrtle, prickly pears and heathers, stand out in addition to the celebrated thousand-year-old olive trees, maritime pines, oaks, cork oaks, figs and old vineyards on terracing of land that the peasants have torn from the rocks creating dry walls that lead gently down to the sea.
Grotticelle, formed by three neighbouring beaches, is generally thought to be the most beautiful bay but the Tono, Praia di Fuoco and Santa Maria bays are worth visiting, just like those of Torre Ruffa, Formicoli and Riaci. There are also pleasant walks up to the lighthouse on the top of the promontory and the panoramic viewpoint from where the most beautiful views and the sunsets over the volcano of Stromboli can be seen.
A boat trip along the whole coast from Capo Vaticano to Tropea is a wonderful experience. The whole coast is so splendid that it has become known as the ‘Costa degli Dei’ (Coast of the Gods). Small bays of brilliant white sand and a sensational seabed, ideal for snorkelling and diving, can be discovered from small boats.
The rocky promontory of Capo Vaticano offers small, secluded beaches which can often only be reached by narrow paths or even only from the sea. These include the renowned and most popular beach of Grotticelle, a long sandy shore of brilliant white sand which is actually three neighbouring beaches. The incredibly blue, transparent sea and shallow water make it an authentic paradise, one of the things that must be seen at Capo Vaticano. Most of the Capo Vaticano beaches are protected by wild vegetation that makes the environment even more appealing. Some of the best known beaches at Capo Vaticano are the Tono, Santa Maria, Torre Ruffa, Praia di Fuoco, Formicoli and Riaci beaches. If you love diving, Capo Vaticano has an incredible seabed, full of flora and fauna. There’s a great variety of fish, particularly around the rocks of Mantineo, Vadaro and Galea.
The sea surrounding Capo Vaticano is the ideal place for diving as there is a rich seabed with the most numerous and variegated fish populations of Italy, all due to the mingling of currents from the gulfs of Sant’Eufemia to the north and Gioia to the south.
Like the other localities there, from the point of view of wine and food, Capo Vaticano is one of the leading producers nationally of the renowned red Tropea onion with an especially sweet flavour, in demand internationally and sought after in many international markets because of its nutritional and therapeutic qualities arising from a particular form of the area and the particularly stable climate.
The local cuisine consists of simple combinations with strong flavours, genuine in the choice of the food and consolidated over the centuries by the poverty of the economy and the peasants, the role of women in the kitchen, the patriarchal family and the rhythm of work in the field. The first courses include maccheroni con la ’nduja (pasta with a salami made of pork and red pepper) while a favourite of tourists is the ‘Filea’, usually a set dish in all local restaurants. It consists of a traditional, homemade pasta made of flour and water from Vibo Valentia which is rolled around a ‘dinaculo’ or stick of esparto grass to give it a curved shape.