Briatico (VV)

The spectacle of the Coast of the Gods

Briatico is an enchanting seaside resort renowned for its seafront overlooking the Gulf of Lamezia Terme and the Aeolian archipelago. The beaches, cliffs and bays, among the most beautiful in Calabria, follow one after the other and include the beaches of Trainiti and Safò Bay, the Cocca cliffs, and the beaches of San Giuseppe and Sant’Irene.
 
The beach of Sant’Irene covers a stretch of rocky coast and some parts are in soft, white sand making the landscape extremely attractive and suggestive; this beach can only be reached by a steep lane.
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Briatico shares with Tropea a spectacular stretch of coast called the Coast of the Gods.
 

Briatico is not far from the more famous tourist resort of Tropea and shares a stretch of spectacular coast named the Costa degli Dei (the Coast of the Gods) with a constant succession of sandy coves bordered by rocky cliffs, all lapped by the turquoise water of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

This wonderful scenario is embellished on the horizon with the outlines of the Aeolian Islands, Stromboli in particular, and, to the north, the mountains of the Calabrian coastal chain. Long beaches start from the little port of Briatico, where there is a ruined tower (known as the Rocchetta), one of the most photographed points of the coast. They continue beyond Safò Bay in the direction of Vibo Valentia Marina.

 
Briatico
 
The monuments of note include the Mother Church of San Nicola di Bari, founded after the destruction in an earthquake of Briatico Vecchia. It houses the remains of the other churches in the town ruined in the disastrous earthquake.
 
The Potenzoni infiorata

June is the month of the flower festivals, events that attract thousands of tourists and onlookers every year to see the maestros of land-based artistic design at work. The streets of the old centre of Potenzoni, a hamlet of Briatico, turn into an open-air museum for a weekend, with a triumph of colours which the local residents also create. The locals compete in the organisation of the most beautiful works of art made just with flowers, sand, wood and natural elements.

By tradition, the Potenzoni infiorata is a ritual of faith. The residents dress the village for a festival at the feast of Corpus Domini, creating floral carpets of great artistic value. In the past, it was the custom to enliven the Corpus Domini religious procession with a shower of petals thrown from the balconies as the procession passed. The master flower arrangers aim to celebrate one of the most important days in the Church calendar in a different way, and their creations tend to portray scenes from the Gospels and the Bible. The topics are mainly sacred ones, linked to the cult of the sacred heart of Jesus and the Madonna.

The master flower arrangers of Potenzoni have now reached such technical abilities and expression that they can be considered at the same level as the great Italian and European maestros. They are called on to produce their works in leading national flower arranging events. During the infiorata, the old centre is divided into four districts, each of which is given a name with a meaning. The residents in each district work harmoniously to create artistic compositions worthy of competing with those of the other districts.

 
Briatico
 
Traces of the past

 

Briatico has a long history independent of the recent tourist development. Unfortunately, not much is left of old Briatico, completely destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1783; however, there are some ruins in some parts of the coast.

The ruins of the mediaeval castle and the old town centre of Briatico Vecchio remain. At the time of the earthquake, there were 12 churches, 3 monasteries and it was very important historically and culturally. Only two of the five towers of the anti-Turk defence system are left on the beach - the Rocchetta, a high coastal lookout tower with a pentagonal plan, originally built by the Greeks, reconstructed by the Romans and reworked in the mediaeval period, and the Sant'Irene tower, erected by the deputy Royal Spanish government to watch out for barbarian incursions.

Prehistoric finds, such as terracotta items and other flint and obsidian tools, a vase containing human remains and a full trousseau including a crystal pendant in rock, amber grains and one in carnelian with incisions, have been made in the area. The site was a human settlement dating to the Chalcolithic era. There are also Roman necropoleis of the Imperial age and the remains of a building complex (perhaps a spa) from the same period. There are mediaeval hermit caves, some called the ‘Grotte delle fate’ (Fairies’ caves), along the Murria valley.

 

 
Briatico
 
Events and fairs

As in many other Calabrian municipalities, there is the traditional Affruntata on Easter Day; this evokes the meeting of the Madonna, accompanied by St John, with the resurrected Christ. A classic summer date is the festival of the Madonna del Carmine, held in the middle of July. The festival of San Nicola da Bari, celebrated on 6 December, is very popular in Briatico.

 
Wine and food

There is still an old gastronomic tradition based on local food resources in Briatico.
Specialities are olives and olive oil, prickly pears, local wine and dishes like fish soup, swordfish and grilled tuna. The well-known red Tropea onion PGI should have a special mention; this is produced in the surrounding area including Briatico.

 
Briatico
 


 


Address Corso Margherita 129
  89817 Briatico (VV)
Phone number 0963 391013
Fax 0963 391006
Website http://www.comune.briatico.vv.it/
 

 

Briatico was originally a fishing center, but it has experienced a tourism boom in the last years. Tourists have everything at hand: holiday villages, local cuisine restaurants and fish delicacies, clean seawater, rocky coasts and sandy beaches, Moreover, the ghost hamlet of the old town stands a little far away.

Remains of ancient populations are traceable in the area, as evidenced by the Roman Necropolises and ruined thermal bath complex of the Roman Empire period. Of particular interest are the medieval hermit caves, called Grotte delle Fate (Fairy Caves), along the valley of the Murria stream. Also noteworthy are the Convent of the Dominican Fathers founded in 1498 and the small 11th century Church of Santa Maria del Franco, both destroyed by the 1783 earthquake. The Library of the Scalabrinian Study Center in Piazza Marconi is directed by the Scalabrinian Fathers and can be visited every weekday except for public holidays. The library contains about 15.000 books concerning Southern history and emigration issues. The private collection Lombardi Satriani can be visited on request in San Costantino di Briatico; it is a library containing publications about the folkloristic aspects of Calabrian people.

Briatico has a picturesque old center with a breath-taking view. Tourists can visit the remains of the ancient Castle that was once an integral part of the rural village destroyed by the 1783 earthquake. Eastwards on the seaside the rests of a tower are still visible, Torre Rocchetta, in front of which a charming beach and transparent sea lie. A ruined defense tower can also be found westwards, in Sant’Irene area, and it was once a stronghold against pirate raids and Saracen attacks.



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