Scilla (RC)

The beauty and myth of the terrible Scylla

Scilla is a small village in the province of Reggio Calabria, one of the most charming and characteristic of Italy, that rises on a high rocky peak over the sea. Scilla is an important tourist resort of the Violet Coast, so-called because of the colour that water reflects at particular times of the day. Scilla enchants visitors with its Castle overlooking the sea, the colourful houses leaning on each other, the views of the Strait of Messina and Sicily. Recently Scilla was included by CNN in the list of Italy’s most beautiful villages of Italy with the hamlet of Chianalea.
The magic of this place, especially at sunset, when the daylight begins to fade and the first lights of the evening come on, is a spectacle that is not to be missed.
The magic of Scilla, especially at sunset, when daylight begins to fade, is an enchanting and bewitching spectacle.

Scilla’s most ancient and impresive part is the hamlet of Chianalea, also called little Venice due to its position almost immersed in the sea. Houses, close to one another and separated by tiny alleys, seem to emerge directly from the blue sea, resting their foundations precisely on the rocks. The “antico borgo” or old town is a succession of streets that feature churches and fountains, overlooked from above by the austere Castello dei Ruffo (Ruffo Castle).


Full of history and mystery, the town of Scilla has ancient origins that relate mainly to the period of the destruction of Troy and invokes the myths and legends of Ulysses with Scylla and Charybdis, of Homer and Dante Alighieri.
The town’s name derives from the mythological figure of Scylla, a young nymph who refused Glauco’s love He thus went to the sorceress Circe, who was in love with him, and ask her to help him win Scylla’s heart. The offended sorceress poisoned the sea-pool where the nymph used to bathe, turning her into a horrific six dog-headed monster who destroyed every ship crossing the Strait of Messina.
In Scilla, the trip from the sea to the mountains is very short. In just a few kilometres, crossing the various heights of Melia, we arrive at Gambarie, in the area of Santo Stefano d'Aspromonte; a famous ski resort in the south of Italy, especially known for offering skiing with the sea as a backdrop.

The beaches and village of Scilla

The coastline near Scilla offers small secluded beaches and of difficult access but also more spacious beaches equipped with every modern comfort.
The most famous and visited beach throughout Scilla is undoubtedly that of Marina Grande; a long sandy beach with spa establishments as well as sun umbrellas, sunbeds, but also bars, restaurants and many typical meeting points. The beach is bordered by imposing cliffs that plunge deep into the sea, creating quite an impressive landscape.
Near Marina Grande we also find the beach of Punta Pacì, especially suitable for scuba-diving enthusiasts. In this area the seabed has quite a drop and its pristine waters are particularly rich in flora and fauna; a true paradise for all those who enjoy swimming, also simply by snorkelling.
Cala delle Rondini is a beach surrounded by an unspoilt environment, relatively quiet which allows to soak up the sun amidst a wonderful natural setting. This small cove is difficult to access and that is what makes it unique.
One of the most beautiful beaches of Scilla, with the cleanest and most transparent water, is spiaggia delle Sirene; very busy during the summer period, especially by those who love who love exceptional tide peaks and an enchanting seabed rich in marine life.

Ruffo Castle

The imposing Castello dei Ruffo is located on the "Rocca di Scilla" which overlooks the southern part of the district of "Marina Grande" and to the north, the picturesque old fishing district of Chianalea with houses built on the rocks. Of Norman or Swabian origins, it is without doubt one of Scilla’s most important monuments.
Originally, it was built for defensive purposes, until in 1532 when the Count Paolo Ruffo decided to transform this austere castle into a residence.
Today the castle houses conferences, exhibitions and fairs, and also allows to enjoy wonderful views, allowing our gaze to drift out to the coast of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands.

The hamlet of Chianalea

Chianalea, that has been described as a small “Venice of the South", is a picturesque fishing village where houses seem to be emerging directly from the sea, alleys are caressed by the breeze and the air is filled with the sound of waves crashing on the rocks.
Worthy of a visit is Chiesa di San Giuseppe (Church of San Giuseppe), a tiny chuch with its 100 seats which was once the chapel of the Convento dei Crociferi. The rite to the Saint dates back to the Eighteenth Century, when the priest Giuseppe Bova built an altar dedicated to St Joseph. Still today the rite is celebrated every year in the stretch of sea between the port of Scilla and the beach with a boat race, the "riatta", which ends in opposite the church.
Along the alleys that lead to the sea, visitors can admire the Palazzo Scategna and Palazzo Zagari, ancient aristocratic buildings of great worth. Typical of Chianalea are the apotropaic masks hung above the house doors. Today these masks are mostly ornamental, but once upon a time had the function of turning away evil spirits.
Sights to see also include the ancient fountains and the churches of San Giuseppe and S.Maria di Porto Salvo.


Scilla is in fact one of the last bastions in Calabria where the fishing tradition survives, in the kingdom of swordfish. A visit to Scilla without a doubt implies tasting dishes based on this fish, such as the “panino con il pescespada” (swordfish panini).
The regional varieties of the Costa Viola allow visitors to enjoy even the peculiarities of the seafaring tradition as well as that of the hilly pre-aspromonte area: cheese, delicatessen, mushrooms and vegetables in oil, grilled aubergines and tomatoes, olives in oil, fried pumpkin flowers, ragout and sauces based on goat meat and pork to dress home-made pasta such as the "maccarrùni i casa”.
The main gastronomic sea specialities are based on typical fish such as swordfish, billfish, garfish, sunfish, saury, various crustaceans and octopus. Ancient recipes with billfish (“spatola alla" scigghitàna"), with vinegar in specific doses and aromatic herbs produced amidst the rows of vines along the terroirs, confirm the agricultural vocation and nautical image of the population. Typical sweets are produced throughout the area during the various holidays and include "mustacciòli"or "'nzuddhi", "piparèlle", "susumèlle” and "petrali" made with honey and almonds as well as dried flavoured figs. Creams, cakes and liqueurs made from lemon, orange, Bergamot, never fail to disappoint at the end of a meal.



Address Piazza San Rocco
  89058 Scilla (RC)
Phone number 0965 754003
Fax 0965 754704


In summer, a great number of tourists are added to Scilla population; one of the main attractions of the town is the traditional swordfish hunting that, as early as late spring, takes place in the Strait with the passerelle, the boats that are heirs of luntri used to catch swordfish with vedetta and harpoon, according to the old method of the Phoenicians. Chianalea sea bottoms are characterized by rocks and vegetation and they are the destination of scuba divers and geologists.

The ancient Scyllaeum is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It has a population of about five thousand people, with a fishing-based economy, and is one of the most charming places in Calabria. The Ruffo Castle stands on the Scilla cliff overlooking the amphitheater-shaped town: the district of Marina Grande (the beach of the mermaids) to the south and the picturesque fisherman village of Chianalea to the north, where houses stand on the rocks and the narrow streets face the wonderful landscape of the Strait of Messina. The Castle was damaged, together with the rest of the village, by the earthquake in 1783. The main beach is Marina Grande where the Church of Spirito Santo is located. A panoramic viewpoint stands in San Rocco square, in front of the Town Hall, and the swordfish monument, the symbol of Scilla, rises in the same area. The following landmarks deserve a visit. The Church of Maria Santissima Immacolata, originally built in the Paleo-Christian age, was reconstructed in the 17th and 19th centuries and it has now the features of the last 20th-century remodeling. The Church of San Rocco, the patron saint of the town, was built in the 15th century and it was severely damaged in the 1908 earthquake. The Tremusa Cave, located outside the village, presents characteristic concretions and a deposit of white shells.

The Church of Maria Santissima Immacolata, of Norman or Swabian origin, was originally built in the Paleo-Christian Age: it is the most important monument in Scilla. The 15th-century Church of San Rocco, the patron saint of the town, deserves a visit.