Scilla and Chianalea
As I leave the Coast of the Gods, the seaside town of Scilla awaits for me. Scilla is divided into two souls, Mare grande and Chianalea a fisherman’s village known as southern Italy’s little Venice.
Calabria’s coastline melts into an unbelievable, breathtaking view, what awaits for me, as I temporarly leave the Coast of the Gods? The wind from the sea that accompanies me along my journey has such a magical feel to it, the Violet Coast is a mix, between myth and reality. Where the golden colour as the sun sets into the sea leaves you speechless. It is on the violet coast that you find little towns with authentic flavours, old houses and unique landscapes. From what I have heard and all the fascinating stories that were narrated to me Scilla is without no doubt a calabrese village full of charm, surrounded by ancient mysteries and centuries of history a surprising Calabria. With the warm wind through my hair as I drive down listening to good Italian music, she appears to me, more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. There are many Calabria tours that give you the possibility to travel and discover this breathtaking coastline.
The greatness of the rock that greets you upon arrival at Scilla on which the Ruffo Castle (VII century a. C) rises, leaves me literally speechless. The Castle is built on the precipitous slopes, its walls seem to dive into the beautiful violet blue colour of the sea. It is surrounded by narrow and curvy streets with small and coloured homes. Scilla is divided into two souls on one hand the Marina Grande with its long beach and modern, contemporary homes. On the other hand is the ancient and characteristic fisherman’s village, Chianalea one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, and also knows as southern Italy’s little Venice.
I decend and make my way towards Chianalea, there are many tourists enjoying their tour. As I am walking into its little stone paved streets, I am taken away by the beauty and uniqueness of the village. I have stepped back in time, genuine fairy like world, the little houses are built on the rock, separated by little alleyways similar to canals. Chianalea’s beauty and diversity is like no other. Its little homes lead straight down to the Tyrrhenian sea. I now understand why it is referred to as “Little Venice” the sea that gently caresses the homes is like music. Fishing has always been the main activity of the village. The swordfish fishing with the “luntri” typical rowing boats, is today instead with the modern “passarelle” motor boats with the sighting antenna (Falere) and the scaffolding in the bow. In august the event of the Sagra del Pescespada takes place. Event created for the recovery of the ancient traditions.
As I am making my way along the canali what captures my attention is the singing that comes from an alleyway. Joyful and cheerful whistling accompanies the music, its fisherman singing as they sit all gathered together mending their fishing nets. One of them calls out to me “signorina vieni canta con noi”… he invites me to sing along, and I accepted his offer. With the singing, the sea and its music, the warm mediterranean air, I was in a fairytale world, a dream. They offer me a panino with swordfish accompanied by a glass of the local wine, absolutely devine. I turn to Antonino my newly found friend and ask him about the legend that belongs to Scilla. The pleased look on his face said it all, I was about to become familiar with their most famous legend, that is an important part of their heritage. Scilla and Cariddi.
Scilla was a beautiful nymph, one day when she was bathing in the sea Glauco a sea god appeared to her, he was half man half fish. At the sight of such a monster, Scilla terrified ran up the coast to hide. Glauco was madly in love with her and could not accept that she denied his love, therefore he went to the sorceress Circe, and asked her for a love position. Circe however was jealous because she also was in love with Glauco, and because of this she wanted revenge. She did not prepare a love potion but something evil, Circe made her way to where Scilla would usually go swimming and poured the potion in the water. When Scilla went into the water she then saw the reflection of her image, she was turning into a monster. Her image was so terrifying that she swam and hid forever in the hollow of a rock, located right in the village of Scilla on the Calabrese coast, directlty in front of Cariddi another sea monster located on the Sicilian coast.
He continues narrating that when ships had to pass in the straight of Messina they were forced to face the sea monsters. In the XIII passage of Homer’s Odissea it says that Ulisse faced Scilla and lost his best rowers. Wow how fascinating! Calabria is a complete surprise, it has so many hidden treasures and cannot wait to discover them all, it’s going to be a very interesting journey and my dear friends I have a feeling that all the stories that I heard on how special she is were only the beginning, there is so much more. The sun was setting at Chianalea and the sea was turning into a golden colour. I added a special page to my diary, follow me where will the mediterranean wind take me? Join me, travel with a local as a local.