When it comes to places which hold a special place in my heart Scilla is one of them. It’s hard to visit this seaside town and not be enchanted by its many charming aspects. From the robust castle perched high above the beach to the cobbled narrow streets of Chianalea, Scilla has many reasons to merit a visit or even a mortgage!
For those who aren’t familiar with Greek Mythology Scilla is home to the feared Scylla, a six headed, sea monster who lured unsuspecting sailors to their deaths if they dared pass too close to her. While the perils of the mythological monster don’t exist, the lure certainly does and as you wander around this UNESCO nominated site it’s easy to be pulled in by its various attractions. Italian seaside resorts are marvelled for their ancient picturesque houses proudly displayed upon a mountain side and Scilla can proudly boast this yet without the tacky tourism and over-exploited gift shops of other parts of Italy. In fact it is the rustic charm of this working fishing village that makes Scilla so very special.
The first thing that strikes you as you arrive in Scilla is the crumbling ancient fortress, the Castello Ruffo, located on the mountain spur, shouldering over the pebbly beach below. For a small admission fee and a climb up from the beach you can admire the stunning views out across the straits of Messina and take in the Calabrian Coast. As well as the views, you can learn about the local tradition of sword fishing and admire an exhibition by a local photographer featuring the renovation of the castle and town.
After exploring the castle head down to the beach and soak up the sun at one of the many lidos or take a swim in the clear waters. For those who are interested in fishing you can head to the port and wrangle a ride with a fisherman to see what will be served in the numerous seafood restaurants that line the lungomare. Grab a granita from one of the beachfront bars and watch the locals partake in their evening passeggiata
No trip to Scilla would be complete however without a wander around Chianalea. This historic borgo is where the fishermen live with their families, and where you can find some of the most breathtakingly beautiful restaurants. Tiny cobbled streets meander up and down this part of the town built literally on the sea as the waves batter against the house walls. As you stroll up and down trying to choose which restaurant will serve your steaming seafood you can see the traces of the fishermen who live within these beautiful houses from their wellies or fishing rods left outside.
When it comes to al fresco dining, a meal in Chianalea is a truly unforgettable experience. All of the restaurants along this stretch serve up the freshest of seafood, combining the catch of the day with authentic Calabrese flavours so a good meal is guaranteed. But the really spectacular feature is how. In the summer months the restaurants serve their delicious dishes from a platform over the water so as you tuck in to plate after plate of fresh sea food you can take in the sight of Scilla twinkling above you at night or if you prefer watch the fish swim directly underneath you! Not only is it a feast for your stomach but also for your eyes!
While it’s only a small town you’ll find that Scilla has so much to offer that just as in its mythological roots, a trip here will be legendary.