The route follows the Costa dei Gelsomini (Jasmine Coast), where the scent of the sea breeze mingles with the sweet aroma of the flower that gives its name to this strip of land hugged by the Ionian Sea. The area comprises of 42 villages ranging from low and sandy beaches to cliffs overlooking the sea which serve as the perfect starting point to discover authentic places that continue to bring legends and traditions to life.
Bivongi is one of them.
It was founded in the year 1000 at the foot of Mount Consolino, where it was surrounded by incomparable natural treasures such as the Marmarico Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Italy. Its curious name (originally meaning slow or heavy) originates from an Italian dialect. It probably alluded to the constantly flowing water which appeared to be immobile among the rocks.
Bivongi is also known for being the village of longevity, where some residents are over 100 years old and a good number are aged between 90 and 100 years.
Visitors staying in the village will have the opportunity to meet some of the residents and perhaps even share a drink or two with Teresa, otherwise known as Miss Tranquillezza (Miss Relaxed) by the locals.
Another village slightly further inland is Badolato, or the village of angels, where tourists may choose to stop. This charming medieval village allows visitors to immerse themselves in the Byzantine atmosphere and get lost in the many characteristic alleyways and ancient cellars, which the locals refer to as catoja.
In addition, the rites of Holy Week which, in just a few hours, portray a millennia-worth of history, folklore, and spirituality are an unmissable event.
Thanks to a policy to promote hospitality and the restoration of historic buildings, Badolato is a popular destination for holiday-makers from northern Europe, who often decide to buy houses in the village to use as holiday homes.
In recent years Badolato has also become a hotel town, thanks to several tourism entrepreneurs working in the network. Visitors can now experience Calabria at its most authentic: not just as a holiday destination, but as an opportunity to learn about the lifestyles and passion of the area.
As you return to the sea, you will encounter the town of Soverato, also known as the pearl of the Ionian Sea. It is one of the most stunning locations along this coastline, where the crystal clear sea is bathed in the sun almost all year round. Soverato offers many historical and artistic attractions, especially in the old part of the village which houses, among other things, an archaeological site unearthed by the ruins of the 1783 earthquake.
Its bay, situated in the middle of the expansive Gulf of Squillace, is truly enchanting and you need only move a few dozen metres away from the shoreline to enjoy a deep, in some places abyss-like, seabed which is home to a multitude of seahorse and needlefish colonies.
In the bay of Caminìa tourists can explore a variety of archaeological finds, the watchtower, and the lime kilns, which date back to ancient times and attest to the historical value of the location which has long been chosen as a safe mooring place.
Between Caminìa and Copanello, the famous Vasche di Cassiodoro, where the ancient Romans bred moray eels and whose seabed consists of characteristic white sand, is an ideal place to visit.
Just a stone's throw from Caminìa is the beautiful Scolacium Archaeological Park of Roccelletta di Borgia, which lets visitors journey back to centuries past.
Copanello Lido, or the Precious Stone of the Costa degli Aranci, is one of the most well-known seaside resorts in Calabria. It is characterised by its spacious golden beach which briefly gives way to a picturesque cliff on which the town stands. The stunning sea with its sandy, sloping seabed is ideal for long swims. In the town of Copanello, the famous cave of San Gregorio is well worth a visit.
The tour of this part of Calabria ends in Catanzaro Lido, a bona fide city centre by the sea where you can make the most of the lively sea front and the delicacies of the many bars serving traditional dishes.
The beach at Catanzaro Lido is one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Calabria. As it curves along the coastline it appears to be hugged by the buildings that rise just a stone’s throw away from the shore. The colours of the beach’s small grey pebbles also seem to perfectly enhance the cement of the houses just opposite.
In addition to its typical seaside character, the urban area of Catanzaro Lido boasts many religious buildings and monuments of historical and cultural significance, including the Anchor, an imposing monument consisting of a concrete structure and a huge bronze anchor about 6 metres tall, which is situated on the sea front and is dedicated to those who died at sea; the 30-metre tall Tonnina Tower, which was part of the Ledoga, a factory that produced Tannins and from which the tower takes its name; and finally a circular buoy with a 6 metre diameter which is located on the seafront of Gutta and is used for mooring fishing boats.