Reggio di Calabria is a city in Calabria on the toe of Italy. It's a ferry port for the short crossing to Messina in Sicily. It's of great antiquity, being part of the Hellenistic region of Magna Grecia, but there's little of that to see nowadays. The city has suffered repeated earthquakes, and was pulverised by the terrible quake and tsunami of 1908. Then came heavy Allied bombing in the Second World War. After the war the city suffered from economic slump and organised crime: 'Ndrangheta (organized crime) are believed still to exert a strong grip over local authority and businesses.
There are long-held plans to build a bridge from here to Sicily, but preparatory work was cancelled in 2013.
Boats for Messina in Sicily leave from the port of Reggio, and from Villa San Giovanni, 14 km further north. In Messina they land either in the main downtown port, or at the northern terminal 4 km away.
- Bluferries. Hydrofoils (take cars) hourly from VSG to Messina downtown. On foot €2.50, cars €37-60.
- Liberty Lines. Fast catamarans roughly hourly from Reggio Calabria, no vehicles. On foot €3.50 single, €6.50 return.
- Caronte & Tourist. VSG to Messina only with car. With car €36.
- Meridiano Lines. Ferries Messina downtown - Reggio Calabria (every 2 hours 24/7, taking 40 min). On foot €1.50, car €15.
Reggio ferry terminal is at 1 Stazione Marittima (just north of Stazione Lido).
Long-distance trains from Milan, Rome and Naples call at Villa San Giovanni ferry port 14 km north, then stop at 2 Reggio Calabria Centrale, Piazza Garibaldi. There's a left luggage office inside the station, open 06:00 to 18:00. The plaza just outside is the bus terminal, with frequent connections to the ferry port. Lots of cafes and fast-food kiosks here.
Train fares from Palermo and Catania on Sicily do not include the ferry trip between Messina and Villa San Giovanni, although the ferry trip will appear on your ticket. You must pay the €2.50 fare at the ferry terminal (Oct 2019).
Regional trains run along the coast from small towns such as Scilla and Tropea to the north, and the airport and Palizzi to the south. These also stop at local stations within Reggio, e.g. Santa Caterina and Lido, which are closer than Centrale for the ferries to Messina.
- 3 Aeroporto dello Stretto (Reggio Calabria Airport REG IATA) (at Ravagnese, about 5 km south). Alitalia fly from Rome FCO, Milan LIN, Turin and Bergamo. Blue Panorama also fly from Rome and Milan. Buses run from the airport to downtown and the port.
Local buses mostly all run to Piazza Garibaldi, in front of Stazione Centrale. The bus company is ATAM (Azienda Trasporti per l'Area Metropolitana di Reggio Calabria), toll-free: 800 43 33 10. Buy tickets in any newsagent or tabaccheria. A single ticket valid for 75 min costs €1.50.
- The elegant main promenade is Lungomare Italo Falcomatà, paralleling Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Midway along is the modern Amphitheatre (Arena dello Stretto/Anfiteatro Anassilaos) 2 .
- For city strolling follow the mostly pedestrianised Corso Garibaldi, which crosses the main squares of piazza Garibaldi, piazza Duomo, piazza Camagna, piazza d'Italia, and piazza de Nava.
- 1 Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Reggio Calabria), Piazza Giuseppe De Nava, 26 (100 m from Lido Station), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-20:00 (last admission 19:30). From the 8th century BCE, many Greeks fled their homeland to settle in south Italy and Sicily. This "Magna Grecia" influenced Roman culture, and founded cities such as Naples and Syracuse, before eventually being absorbed into the Roman Republic. This museum shows their story and artefacts. The highlight is the Bronzi di Riace, two full-size bronze sculptures of bearded nude warriors, cast about 460–430 BCE. The statues are kept in a special room with restricted access: visits are scheduled every 20 min, with the first 20 min watching a film in the "pre-filter room", then viewing the statues for another 20 min. €8; on Wednesdays €6.
- 2 Duomo (Cathedral) (Basilica Cattedrale di Maria Santissima Assunta in Cielo), V Tommaso Campanella 46. Rebuilt in modern Romanesque after its predecessor was wrecked in the earthquake of 1908.
- 3 Castello Aragonese (Aragonese Castle) (at the historical centre), ☏ . Tu-Su 08:30-13:30 & 15:30-18:30. Just a masonry shell, sometimes used for concerts, you come for the panorama of the city. It's named for the Kings of Aragon who re-built it in the 14th century. Free.
- 4 Chiesa degli Ottimati (Chiesa di Santa Maria Annunziata) (next to the castle). M-Sa 08:15-11:30 (Jul Aug 08:15-10:00), M-F 18:00-20:15 (Jul Aug 18:30-20:15), Sa 18:30-20:15; holidays 09:45-11:30 (except Jul Aug), 18:30-21:15. Built in the 10th century as a Norman church, it has suffered multiple destructions, most recently in the earthquake of 1908. The present structure, completed in 1933, is in neo-Byzantine style.
- 5 Santuario di Sant'Antonio (Basilica di Sant'Antonio), Via Sant'Antonio al Santuario (on top of Collina degli Angeli hill overlooking town, 500 m from the centre). Rebuilt in gothic style in the 20th century.
- 6 Villa Genoese Zerbi, Via Zaleuco 5 (midway along promenade). Usually closed. Built in Neo-Gothic style in 1925, it's only open for exhibitions, e.g. as a satellite of the Venice Biennale.
- Palazzo Mazzitelli is an office and retail block on the corner of Via Fata Morgana 3
- Piazza del Populo has a market. It's overlooked by the former fascist barracks Casa del Fascio and memorial 4
- 7 Basilica dell'Eremo (Santa Maria Madre della Consolazione), via Eremo Botte (1.5 km E of city centre). Rebuilt in modern style in 1965, this is where the Madonna sets off on her annual procession.
- Ride the ferry across the Straits for the view, even if you don't intend to visit Sicily. You need a conventional car-ferry for this, where you can get out on deck: on the fast-cats you're closed in behind salt-crusted windows. Check also that your return ferry brings you back to your starting point (whether Reggio or Villa San Giovanni) and not to the other one 14 km away.
- The second Saturday in September sees the religious procession Festa della Madonna della Consolazione. The Madonna's effigy is carried from the Basilica dell'Eremo (Church of the Hermitage) along Corso Garibaldi to the cathedral.
- Watch a show at 1 Teatro Comunale Francesco Cilea, Corso Garibaldi (Located in front of Palazzo San Giorgio), ☏ . This 1500-seater neoclassical building hosts various musical and theatrical performances.
- Lido Comunale: for €1 you get a day-pass to this northern beach, a changing room, use of showers, etc.
- Watch football: Reggio's football team is Urbs Reggina 1914 and their home ground is Stadio Oreste Granillo, 1 km S of the main railway station. They've suffered a number of match-fixing and financial scandals, and, as of 2019, languish in Serie C, the third level of Italian football.
- Bergamotto liquor is similar to Limoncello. It's flavoured with the Bergamot Orange, a citrus resembling a lime, cultivated only here. The oil of the orange also flavours Earl Grey Tea.
- Cordon Bleu, Corso Garibaldi 205, ☏ . Daily 07:00-00:00. In a verandah-tent spilling across the street. Acts posh with waiters in black tie and white tuxedo, paper hats on draught beer, etc., but it's basically a glorified fast-food joint. Equally good for snacks and main meals. It's famous for crispellini, small balls of bread stuffed with fish and fried (€2 for a large bag). They may be the closest you'll get to fish doughnuts.
- La Dolce Vita (Pizzeria Braceria), Via Cardinale Tripepi 7, ☏ . Tu-Su 07:00-00:00. Handy choice near Parco Caserta.
- Gelateria Cesare, Piazza Indipendenza, 2. Daily 05:00-02:00. On the green kiosk in Piazza Indipendenza, Cesare has been a favorite in the city since 1918. It is famous for its gelato brioche.
- Pepy's Beach, Lungomare Falcomata (mid-way along main promenade). open 24 / 7. Good place to have a quiet beer, limoncello, bergamotto or cocktail while looking across at Sicily and listening to the waves hitting the rocky beach.
- Albergo Noel (B&B Al Duomo), 114 Via Francesco da Paolo (just off river quay Via Argine Destro Calopinace), ☏ . Small and central. There is another Albergo Noel at 13 Viale Genoese Zerbi. €40 for a double.
- The main reason anyone comes to Reggio is to cross the straits to Sicily. And so should you. Ferries land there at Messina, which (like Reggio) is just a ferry port with little reason to stay. So either continue south to Taormina, Mount Etna, Catania and Siracusa, or follow the north coast to Milazzo the port for the Aeolian Islands, and further west reach Palermo.
- Scilla is a charming old fishing port 22 km north of Reggio, looking over the Straits at their narrowest point. Here stands Ruffo Castle, atop a headland with good beaches to either side. Regional trains stop in Scilla.
- 8 Pentedattilo (about 45 minutes drive from Reggio, the nearest public transport is to Melito Porto Salvo or Anna, 8-10 km). A well-preserved ancient mountain village in southern Calabria. It's overlooked by a five-pronged rock formation, hence its Greek name daktylos penta, i.e. five fingers. It became tumbledown and deserted - a "ghost town” - but from the 1980s was gradually reconstructed and repopulated. There's an arts & crafts "Paleariza" festival here mid-summer, and an annual short film festival in late August.
- 9 Aspromonte National Park (Parco Nazionale dell'Aspromonte) (You need a car: follow SP 7 towards Gambarie), ☏ . Ranged over a great pyramid of granite, reaching almost 2000 m altitude, with several rare species. The main facilities are at Gambarie ski resort (1,311 m).
|Routes through Reggio di Calabria|
|Salerno ← Vibo Valentia ←||N S||→ becomes|
|Naples ← Salerno ← Paestum ←||N S||→ END|
|becomes ←||W E||→ Metaponto → Taranto|