It is possible to reach various villages and sites of historical, cultural and artistic interest quickly from the Le Playe Village.
Itinerary through villages, caves and museums
From the sea to the mountains, passing through historic villages such as Nicotera, Motta Filocastro, Pizzo Calabro and Tropea (Borgo dei borghi 2021). All of them have a glorious past full of history and are situated in a breathtaking panoramic position where you can admire the coast and the hinterland.
1. Visit to the widespread museums of Ricadi
The route begins with a visit to the extensive array of Mu.Ri. museums, Anthropological and Paleontological Museum in Santa Domenica, located in the town centre, near the Le Playe Village.
The Civic Museum of Ricadi is a museum network of five museums housed in different buildings located throughout the municipal area:
- Museo del Mare (Museum of the Sea) in Capo Vaticano;
- Onion Museum in Capo Vaticano;
- Museum of the Towers at Torre Marrana di Brivadi;
- Folk Art Museum in Ricadi;
- Anthropological and Paleontological Museum in Santa Domenica, located in the town centre, near the Le Playe Village.
2. Nicotera, the historic centre and the panoramas
After taking the panoramic Ricadi – Joppolo road, you reach Nicotera, with its historical and cultural traditions, its castle and panoramic balcony, its town centre rich in history and the cradle of the Mediterranean Diet.
Places of interest include the eighteenth-century castle, the Giudecca district (i.e., the Jewish ghetto) built during the era of Frederick II, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art and the Archaeological Museum.
The eleventh-century cathedral, the old Bishop’s Palace, numerous views, granite portals, noble palaces and stone fountains.
There is a particularly fascinating panorama that can be admired both from the Madonna della Scala and from the balcony “behind the castle“, where your gaze passes beyond the Marina di Nicotera underneath, with its kilometre-long beach and golden sand, reaching the last stretch of the Tyrrhenian coast (the Costa Viola) of Calabria and up to Scilla and Aspromonte, then the side of Sicily with the Strait of Messina, Punta Faro, the majestic Etna volcano, which is visible on clearer days, and the Aeolian Islands further north.
3. Motta Filocastro, the small medieval village
From Nicotera continue towards Motta Filocastro, crossing the vineyards of Badia and the centuries-old olive groves of Caroni di Limbadi, to visit this enchanting village with a past rich in history and located on a hill with a spectacular panoramic view.
Motta Filocastro stands on the top of a hill at 360 m above sea level, along the ancient Via Popilia, in the stretch between Nicotera and Rombiolo (Monte Poro).
As shown by various archaeological discoveries, its origins can be traced back to between the seventh and fifth centuries BCE, when it was established by the Greeks of Locri in the Magna Graecia era.
In other documents, moreover, it is stated that Motta was built by the inhabitants of Nicotera themselves after the city was destroyed by the Emir Hasan-ibu-Alì (950 CE).
Once you have reached the small village of Motta Filocastro, you can visit it by wandering the narrow and winding streets, with iron balconies and granite portals. There is a magnificent panorama that ranges from the Tyrrhenian Sea up to Etna that can be admired from Il Tocco in particular: on this beautiful breathtaking balcony, (embellished with marble seats brought from Naples), you can take in a wonderful panorama of the Piana di Gioia Tauro, the mountains of Serreand Aspromonte, the Strait of Messina, part of Sicily and Etna.
4. Pizzo Calabro, the castle, the historic centre and the churches
Pizzo Calabro is an unmissable stop, which overlooks the sea in a picturesque position, with the Aragonese castle of Joachim Murat, churches, a historic centre and panoramic balconies from which you can admire the coast and Stromboli.
Pizzo Calabro is renowned for its local sweet delicacy of ice cream tartufo.
Prima tappa è la visita del centro storico di Pizzo, iniziando dal castello costruito da Ferdinando I d’Aragona nel tardo 1400, dove fu fucilato nel 1815 Gioacchino Murat (il cognato di Napoleone) in seguito al fallito tentativo di riconquista del regno di Napoli.
Meritano una visita le chiese, la chiesetta di Piedigrotta e sia quelle del centro storico come il Santuario di San Francesco di Paola, quella dell’Immacolata e in particolar modo il Duomo di S.Giorgio Martire: il duomo si presenta con prospetto barocco e nell’interno conserva tra l’altro un Crocifisso seicentesco in legno, alcune statue del XVI sec. in particolare la Madonna col Bambino e S. Caterina della cerchia del Gagini e un S. Giovanni Battista attribuito a Pietro Bernini. Nella chiesa è sepolto Gioacchino Murat.
Mentre la chiesetta di Piedigrotta è ubicata sulla spiaggia, a meno di due km più a nord del centro storico di Pizzo, interamente scavata nelle rocce tufacee.
Per raggiungere la chiesa della Madonna di Piedigrotta occorre scendere una lunga scalinata che si affaccia sul mare, con un panorama che da solo varrebbe la visita.
La facciata esterna della Chiesetta di Piedigrotta è molto semplice, mentre al suo interno è molto suggestivo lo scenario (che si intravede già da fuori), dove sono presenti diversi gruppi scultorei che l’arredano, anch’essi in tufo, trattasi di statue di tufo dislocate su tre grotte che raccontano scene sulla vita di Gesù e dei Santi.
The last stage along the Coast of the Gods and the hinterland ends in Tropea, located less than 3 km from the village, with its historic centre, various small streets and churches, noble palaces and granite portals, white beaches and crystal clear sea.
Once you have reached Tropea, which is known as “the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian“, the historic centre is worth a visit. The seventeenth-century urban structure is almost entirely preserved, with Corso Vittorio Emanuele and narrow alleys full of history, typical shops and restaurants, the Norman cathedral and numerous churches. The tall noble palaces of past centuries give it a royal look, and the views of the white beaches below and the clear water of the sea offer an extraordinary panorama and truly unique sunsets (I Tramonti di Ulisse) (I Tramonti di Ulisse).
The church of Santa Maria dell’Isola is located on a cliff/islet directly on the beach. A staircase leads up to the church, behind which there is a well-kept garden with paths that lead to terraces overlooking the sea, making it a very romantic place.
Food and wine itinerary
Calabria is a land of authentic flavours and villages rich in history, with culture going back thousands of years and a great tradition of gastronomy based on olive oil. Above all, it is far away from the overly crowded routes and offers different kinds of experiential and food and wine tourism.