Journey to the south. Scilla: between legend and sea
Originally what we now call Italy was only Calabria.
In fact, the name of our country was born right in the toe of the boot and from this first little curiosity I want to start talking to you about what I, on the other hand, simply call “home”.
Calabria is the region where I was born and raised, where my family was born and raised and where I would also like my future to grow. In the southernmost part of Italy, Calabria is a forgotten and authentic land, strong and angular, fragrant and abandoned. A hidden land worth discovering. A bit like a treasure hunt: there are obstacles and challenges to face, but in the end you always find a chest full of gold bars.
In this region – and perhaps its most particular feature lies here – Caribbean beaches and high snow-capped mountains can be found an hour away from each other. Only here you can choose to go to the top of a high mountain and take a bath in a crystal clear sea on the same day. Only here, moreover, you can dive into the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea without having to choose but simply enjoying both coasts.
From the national parks of Sila, Pollino and Aspromonte, to the seaside villages of Tropea and Diamante; from ancient Greece to the small Albanian communities; from lemons to chillies… perhaps the hardest part is choosing where to start. Fortunately, however, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to play, and one of them is called Scylla.
Scilla is a seaside tourist resort in the province of Reggio Calabria, located in the most extreme part of Calabria, the one where the Strait of Messina begins and where you can greet Sicily with your hand visible to the naked eye. Its name derives from a mysterious sea monster called “Skýlla” by the Greeks, the subject of ancient myths.
According to legend, in fact, Scylla was a beautiful blue-eyed nymph who loved bathing on the beaches of Zancle, present-day Messina. One day she saw Glaucus, a sea god half man and half fish, who fell madly in love with him, but Scylla was frightened by the appearance of the god and she refused him. So Glauco turned to the sorceress Circe to have a love filter that would make the nymph fall in love with him. Circe, who in turn was in love with Glauco, jealously decided to take revenge on the poor nymph by preparing an evil potion to be poured into the sea near the beach of Zancle. When Scylla went to take a bath the next day, immediately after immersing herself in the water, her body turned into a terrible monster with six huge dog heads and very long serpentine legs. For the horror Scylla threw herself into the sea and went to live in the cavity of a rock near the cave that today takes her name.
Also according to the legend, on the opposite side of the Strait of Messina, there lived another sea monster by the name of “Charybdis”. All the ships that crossed that piece of sea encountered one of the two monsters that generated winds and storms causing the death of the sailors.
Of these ancient legends there is now only a fascinating tale to listen to while walking in the streets of the seaside village. After climbing to the top of the promontory of Scilla, from which you can admire Sicily and an expanse of blue sea from above, a stop in the fishermen’s quarter known as Chianalea is a must.
You will immediately realize that Chianalea is all to be photographed, your mobile phones will not have even a moment of respite, in fact, at every step, you can see an irresistible view of the sea. There is the staircase of kisses, there are the ceramics outside the doors of the houses, the moored boats, the fishermen busy collecting fishing nets, the small narrow and colorful streets, the kiosks where you can eat a delicious sandwich with swordfish and restaurants with terraces above the sea. You can drink a good glass of fresh wine and eat freshly caught fish lulled by the sound of the waves and with the salty air in your hands.
Scilla is the perfect place to be enchanted by the most authentic beauty of Calabria: that made of salt and peach, and of sunsets over the sea that color the horizons of pink.
My name is Francesca Notaro and I was born the last day of the year 1992 in Catanzaro, between toasts with sparkling wine and good intentions. I grew up in Calabria and at 18 I left alone to go to study first in Florence and then in Milan, two different but beautiful cities that have always stimulated me. I have moved 13 houses, I have accumulated removals, suitcases and boxes around my life, but I have never lost pieces of myself. I have a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Journalism and a master’s degree in International Cooperation. I work for a publishing house and I tell my life made of writing, books and nature, on my Instagram account (@fra_not). Destiny brought me back to the starting point of my dreams: in Calabria; and from here I let life surprise me and give me a little beauty every day.