Mermaids & Monsters

22 kms up the road from Reggio Calabria (or about half an hour and €2.40 on a train) is the seaside town of Scilla.

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When you step off the train and walk down off the platform onto the street level, you are practically meters from the sea in the newer part of town. The beach is pebbly and there are both free and paid parts of the beach with cafes and restaurants selling drinks, eats and toilet facilities.

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From this beach you gaze out at Sicily to the left, out in front at the boats endlessly circling back and forth trying to catch your spada or swordfish for your lunch and to the right, a rocky outcrop with a church and castle up top.

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If you take the road at sea level around the headland you are passing the legendary rocky home of Scylla, from the Greek mythology referred to in both Homer and Virgil’s writings. She was a monster, who along with her counterpart, Charybdis lured sailors to their deaths.

Around the headland you are looking upon one of Italy’s most beautiful towns, I Borghi più belli d’Italia, the gorgeous fishing village of Chianalea. If you can hold off eating at the first beach of Scilla, then this is the place. Sit out on one of the pontoons over the sea and gaze down at the fish nibbling beneath you and the soul-food scenery as you enjoy a beer and salad with chips. (Couldn’t eat the poor fish after watching that relentless fishing boat).

After you can make your way up the paths to the church above which is cool and peaceful and seemed to be in complete silence as an ongoing prayer session was undertaken while I was there. Beyond that out at the point is the Ruffo castle which cost me 2 euro to enter as well as the Scilla lighthouse protecting the sailors from Scylla.

Once you have tired of these clifftop views you can turn back down to the church, cross the street and walk up stairs to the old town of Scilla. Mermaids are the theme of much of the street art and there is a magnificent piazza at the top with fabulous sculpture.

Apart from a wee church and a few shops you will now be ready to get your self back down to the first Scilla beach and settle in for a cooling swim and doze before making your train home.

Recommend: Water shoes or jandles/thongs!! The pebbles are torturously painful to walk across to the water and as they shift underfoot it makes for a tough entry and exit to the water.

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