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A Handbook for Travellers in Southern Italy and Sicily ...: South Italy online

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seas are visible from this summit, and
the road descends on the western side
through very imposing scenery, com-
manding a view which extends as far
as the Lipari islands, to

Casalnuoyo (1117), finely situated
at the foot of the mountains. It was
totally destroyed by the earthquake of
1783, and has been almost entirely
rebuilt of wood. Hence the distance
to Gioia is 18 m.]

On leaving Gerace the line crosses
the MericOf leaving on the 1. the ruins
of Locri, and after crossing the PetitOy
brings us to

Ardore (5141), on a hill amidst vine-
yards and ordiards. Crossing the
broad valley that intervenes, the line

Bovalino (2644), picturesquely situ-
ated on a high hill.

[A path of 2 hrs. ascends from Bov-
alino to S. Luca (1605), where guides
can be hired for (3 hrs.), 8, Maria de*
PohL This monastery is placed below
MontaitOy the highest peak of the Asp-
romonte, and is only remarkable for
the striking character of the sceneiy
round it. The path follows numerous
windings across the ridge of La Serra.
The monastery, a substantial square
building, said to have been founded by
the Normans, is completely surrounded
by an amphitheatre of mountains, which

rise perpendicularly on the W. side in
a succession of enormous buttresses,
from which a small torrent tumbles
foaming on the rt. of the building.
These mountains are clothed with fine
ancient forests of chestnut, ilex, oak,
and a beautiful variety of pine, the
Firms Laricio Calabra. For several
months of the year the monks are
snowed up and shut out from the rest
of the world.]

Crossing several streams we come to

BianoonuoYO (1931), on a narrow
ridge of white chalk. The line goes
through olive plantations, leaving on
the 1. Capo Bruzzano^ the Zephyrian
promontory from which Locri derived
the appellation of Epizephyrii. Farther
on we pass on the rt. Bruzzano (1407),
on the edge of a great rock rising out
of the plain. It was the head-quarters
of the Saracens in the 11th cent. Be-
yond a stream is seen Statii (1378), in
a picturesque situation, with its houses
and churches perched on solitary rocks.
The line skirts ^a marshy low ground
before reaching

Branoaleone, a village (1323) on a
hill near the sea. Following the shore,
we leave on the 1.

Capo Spartiyento, the Fromontorium
Herwiis. Between this and Keggio, at
a short distance fr^m the shore, situated
on ofishoots of the Aspromonte, and
difficult of access, are several villages
in which the Greek language is still

Palinl (2087) is prettily situated at
the base of two perpendicular barren
rocks, perched on the summit of the
highest of which stand tiie ruins of its
former castle. ,E. rises the insigni-
ficant village of

Fietrapennatay on a hill surrounded
by the most beautiful forests, with the
finest view conceivable of sea and
mountains, and made flEmiiliar by the
drawings of Mr. Lear. From Ketra-
pennata a path descends in 2 hrs.
Capo Spartivento,

Digitized by V^OOQIC


Itoute 28. — Marina di ^ovd — Beg^io^

Crossing the Daria, the line runs
W. to

The Marina di Bova, a rising village
at the seaside, 5 m. from Bova (3438),
the see of a hishop, picturesquely
placed on a high mountain on the rt.
Of late years Bova has heen losing its
importance hy the removal of the
hishop* s residence and several of the
public offices and principal inhabitants
to the Marina di Bova.

Amendolea is a castellated but nearly
deserted village on a hill, 6 m. to
the rt.

On leaving the station, we cross the
Piscopio, or Amendolea^ the ancient
Coecinusy on whose banks Laches de-
feated a body of Locrians. Pausanias
ascribes to its banks a natural phenome-
non, which Strabo refers to the Halex
— the grasshoppers on the Locrian bank
were Sways chirping, while those on
the Rhegian bank were constantly mute
— a phenomenon which may be ob-
served to this day.

Following the shore, and enjoying a
fine view of the distant Etna, after 4 m.
we cross the Alicey the ancient Ilalex,
the boundary between the Ehegians
and the Locrians, and reach

Xelito (3853), on the rt. bank of the
Alice, the southernmost town in Italy.
It was here that Garibaldi landed in
Sept. 1860, after having overrun Sicily,
to drive the last Bourbon King, Fran-
cis II., out of his continental dominions.
In Aug. 1862, when less fortunate, he
was obliged to surrender at Melito to a
Royal Itolian force, after having been
severely wounded, in his first encounter,
on the neighbouring heights of Aspro-

[From Saline we may ascend a steep
path along the narrow bed of the Tor-
rente della Monaca to

Pentedattiloj the strangest of human
abodes, perched like a pyramid among
the spires of gigantic barren rocks
which shoot up in the form of a hand,
and are only accessible by a long flight

of steps cut in the rodk. The villa^,
which is in a state of dilapidation, is
surmounted by the remains of a baronial
castle. Following the ravine, an hour
higher up is

MbntebellOf on a square rock, perpen-
dicular on three sides, and surroiuided
by crags covered with the cactus in
great luxuriance. Hence we may follow
a wild and difficult path through 8.
Lorenzo (4122) and Condofuri (2406) to

Lanaro. On the 1. is a grand view
of Etna and the coast of Sicily. Soon
after leaving it, we pass by

Capo Armiy the Promontory of Let^
copetray regarded by the ancient geo-
graphers as the termination of the
Apennines, and remarkable for the
whiteness of its rocks, which gave it
its ancient name. To this headland
Cicero, on his voyage from Syracuse to
Greece, after the death of Ceesar, B.c.
44, was driven by contrary winds.
Having re-embarked, he was again
driven back, and went to stay at the
villa of his friend P. Valerius, where
he was visited by some citizens frx>m
Rhegiimi, recently arrived from Rome,
who brought him intelligence which
caused him to alter his course, and
proceed direct to Velia, where he met

The line now turns N."W. and finally
N., passing on the 1. Capo Pellaro, and
through a highly-cultivated district

Begg^o, where there are three stations,
half a mile apart. Travellers for Sicily
direct will of course alight at the third.

Beggio (16,000), the capital of Cala-
bria Ultenore I. and the see of an
archbishop, is situated in the midst of
great natural beauties. It was almost
entirely destroyed in 1783, and has
been rebuilt on a new plan. Many of
its public buildings arc remarkable for
their architecture, particularly one of
the fountains on Ihe Marina. Among
its public institutions are a library,
hospital, and chamber of commerce.

Digitized by V^OOQIC

Boute 28. — Beggio : History.


The climate is particulaily healthy,
and adapted for lie production of the
fruits and flowers of both hemispheres ;
the date-palm attains a considerable
size, and produces fruit ; the castor-oil
plant abounds in the gardens; the roads
are bounded by the American aloe and
the cactus, and the neighbourhood is
one continued groye of orange, lemon,
and citron-trees. Nothing can surpass
the beauty of the scenery, particularly
the view from the Marina towards the
coast of Sicily.

Ehegium is supposed to have been
founded by a colony from Chalcis in
Euboea, and to have been subsequently
reinforced by colonies from ^oUa and
Doris. A colony from Messene settled
here B.C. 723, under their general, Alci-
damidas, after the capture of Ithome
by the Spartans in the first Messenian
war. In times long anterior to the
Koman conquest it was one of the most
flourishing Greek republics, and was
celebrated for the number of distin-
guished philosophers, historians, and
poets which it produced. During the
Athenian expedition to Sicily, the Rhe-
gians observed so strict a neutrality that
they refused to admit the army of
Athens within their walls ; and when
Dionysius of Syracuse, anxious to secure
their alliance, requested a consort from
the city, the inhabitants offered him
their hangman's daughter. Under the
Koman rule it was called Ehegium
Julium^ to distinguish it from Rhegium
Lepidiy on the Via -Similia, near Mo-
dena. Scarcely any town in Italy has
suffered such severe or such frequent
reverses. It was almost deserted in con-
sequence of repeated earthquakes in
the time of Augustus, who contributed
largely to its restoration. In 549 it
was taken by Totila, in 918 by the Sa-
i-acens, in 1005 by the Pisans, in 1060
by Robert Guiscard ; it was reduced to
ashes by Frederick Barbarossa ; it was
sacked by the Turks in 1552, burnt by
them in 1597 ; and totally destroyed by
the earthquake in 1783. In 1841, and
n^ain in December, 1851, several shocks
S great violence were felt at intervals,
but without causing much damage.

The public buildings are entirely
modem. The Cathedral is a handsome
[8, Italy.-]

edifice, and contains some good speci-
mens of marble.

Lycophron the poet is said to have
lived at Rhegium for some time ; and
St. Paul's visit, on his voyage from
Caesarea to Rome (Acts xxviii.), is com-
memorated in a Latin text inscribed
over the Cathedral doors.

The bay of Reggio is remarkable for
the optical phenomenon called the Fata
Morgana^ which occurs only at high
tides, when the most perfect calm of
sea and air prevails; it is extremely
evanescent, and is usually seen about
sunrise, but is of rare occurrence. The
Fata Morgana is of three kinds — marine,
aerial, and prismatic ; it presents in the
air, and also on the still surface of tho
sea, images of real objects on the coast,
which are reflected and multiplied with
extraordinary precision. It is similar
to that so frequently seen on the coasts
of Antrim and Donegal, especially near
the entrance of Lougn Foyle, in Ireland.
Many of the effects are difficult of ex-
planation; but the most obvious ap-
pearances are referable to an unusiial
calnmess of the sea and to the different
refractive and consequently reflective
powers of the superincumbent strata of
air. The ordinary mirage is frequently
seen in great perfection on both sides
of this strait, and in many cases no
doubt it has been taken for the Mor-

The similaiity of the geological for-
mations on both sides of the Faro may
afford some confirmation to the state-
ment of many ancient writers that the
name Rhegium ('P^tov, from piryviitfi,
to break) referred to the convulsion
which separated Sicily from the main-
land.— (Virg. ^n. in. 414.)

The distance from the Cathedral of
Reggio to the Lighthouse of Messina is
exactly 7^ m. Local steamers cross the
straits twice a day, and others touch at
the port several times a week on the
voyage to or from Naples.

Reggio is backed eastward by the
imposing group of the Aspromonte
(6910 ft.), which is best ascended from
Villa S. Giovanni (Rte. 30).


by Google


Boute 29. — Sibari to Goaema,




Stations. Boutes.

SIBABI .... 28




Spesiaiio CaitroTillari




8. Mareo Boggiano




Torano Lattarioo


Acri Bisignano


Xontalto Hose


Bende S. FiU



Rly. projected from Spezzano N.W. to
Lagonegro (Rte. 27^ ; conceded from
Cosenza to N^ocera (Rte. 11).

From Sibaxi, fonnerly called Buffa^
hria, the rly. runs W. to Doria, where
is situated the Stat, for

Oassano (9035)) 5 m. N., an episcopal
city on the Mano, supposed to be the
Castellum Carissanum of Pliny, and the
Cosa in agro Thuritw of Caesar (see

This is one of the most picturesque
places in S. Italy, surrounded by beau-
tiftd scenery, and possessing hot sul-
phurous bams, which are in great local
reputation. The ruins of its feudal
castle rise above it on the magnificent
mass of rock round which the city is
built. The view from the castle is
most extensive, commanding the rich
scenery of the valleys of t^e Coscile
and Crati. The picturesque Roman
tower is said to have been the place
from which the stone was thrown which
killed T. Antmu Milo, who was besieging
the city in the cause of Pompey, and
whose name is better known by Cicero's
oration in his defence. It is still called
Ihrre di MUo,

LO (Rte. 27) Ues 5 m. S.E. of

the rly., and

Castrovillari, 10 m. N.W. The
village of Cioita^ an Albanian colony,
on the rt. of the road to Castrovillari,
is considered by some to mark the real
site of Cosa^ on accoimt of some remains
of ancient buildings near it. The rly.
here turns S. to Tarsia (1813), sup-
posed to be the ancient Caprasia, and
situated not far from the 1. bank of the

The town consists of one long street,
at the extremity of which are me ruins
of the ancient castle of the Spinelli
family. It is tiie birthplace of Marco
AureHo Severino, a distinguished anato-
mist and surgeon of the 17th cent.
The rly. now ascends the 1. bank of the
Crati, through a highly cultivated and
beautiful country, bounded by well-
wooded hills. On the 1. stands Bisig-
nano (4450), supposed to be the ancient
BesidicBy an episcopal city, situated on
a hill near the junction of the Mucone
with the Crati. It gives the title of
prince to the Sanseverino family. A
long ascent leads above the Crati to

Montalto-Bose. The latter viUago
(2600) lies on the 1. About 6 m. W.
of the Stat, rises

Xontalto (6095), a colony of the
Waldenses who settJed in the province
towards the close of the 14th cent
Other colonies were Guardia, 10 m.
N . W. near the coast, and S. Sosti^ 6 hrs.
N., among the hills. At the Reforma-
tion these colonies were joined by mis-
sionaries from the valleys of Pragela
and from Geneva, under whose teaching
tiie reformed doctrines spread around
Cosenza. The Court of Rome de-
spatched inquisitors into Calabria to
suppress the Waldensian churches, and
terrible cruelties appear to have been
inflicted upon the people. Some were
sawn through the middle ; some thrown
from high towers; others beaten to
death with iron rods and burning
torches; and one, Bernardino Oonti,
was covered with pitch, and publicly
burnt to death in the streets of Cosenza.
Neither females nor children escaped

Digitized by V^OOQIC

Boute 29. — Goaenza : Cathedral — Mendicino.


the fury of the inquisitors. These
events took place ahout 1555. A few
years afterwards another more success-
ful attempt was made to e2dirpate the
heresy. In 1560 the Protestants of
Montalto were put to death, one by one,
under the superintendence of the
Marchese di Bucchianico.

Between Tarsia and Cosenza the
road crosses numerous tributaries of
the Crati. The BusentOy which is passed
before entering Cosenza, flows near
its juncture with the Ciiti, over the
grave of Alaric King of the Goths.
A portion of his army was advancing S.
for the invasion of Sicily, when the
design was defeated by ms premature
death at Cosenza. " The ferocious cha-
racter of the barbarians," says Gibbon,
" was displayed in the funeral of a hero
whose valour and fortune they cele-
brated with mournful applause. By
the laboiu" of a captive multitude, they
forcibly diverted the course of the
Busentmus. The royal sepulchre,
adorned with the splendid spoils and
trophies of Rome, was constructed in
the vacant bed; the waters were then
restored to their natural channel, and
the secret spot where the remains of
Alaric had been deposited was for ever
concealed by the innuman massacre of
the prisoners who had been employed
to execute the work." AtSende S. Fill
Stat, (see below) a road branches off on
rt to (21 m.) Paola.

COSEKZA (15,962), the capital of
Calabria Citeriore, and the see of an
archbishop, is situated in a deep glen
at the junction of the Busento with
the Crati, by which it is divided into
two portions. The lower part of the
city is much exposed to malaria ; but
the upper on the £. bank, is healthy,
and contains the fine building of the
TrilMinale, and numerous public esta-
bli^ments. The houses and palaces
of the rich proprietors of the province
are usually well built.

Cosenza occupies the site and retains
the name of ConseyitiXy the metropolis
of the Briittians, where the mutilated
remains of Alexander, King of Epirus,
were interred after his death near
Pandosia. It was a town of importance

during the war with Spartacus, and
in B.C. 40 was unsucessfully besieged
by Sextus Pompeius. It was taken
by the Saracens in 1009. In 1270, as
Philippe leHardi was returning through
Calabria to France with the dead bodies
of his father, brother, brother-in-law
and son, his first wife, Isabella of
Aragon, died as they were passing
through Cosenza. The town suifered
greatly in 1461, when it was taken by
Koberto Orsini, and has been much
damaged by earthquakes. The Cathe-
dral has been spoilt by restorations.
It contains the tomb of Louis III.,
Duke of AnjoUy who died here 18
months after his marriage to Margaret
of Savoy, which was solemnised in this
cathedral in 1433. Aulas Janus Par-
rhasiuSf the celebrated grammarian,
was bom here in 1470 ; also Antonio
Sert'a, one of the earliest writers on
political economy, his work having
been printed in 1613; smd Bernardino
Teiesio (1509-1588), one of the most
acute philosophers of the 16th cent.
Cosenza was the seat of the san^inary
military commission established in
Calabria during the French occupation
in 1808.

From Cosenza a path along the bed
of the Arconte, a tributary of the Crati,
leads to (2 hrs.) Kendicino (3566),
situated on a triple hill, and considered
by most Italian antiquaries to mark the
site of Pandosia Brutiorttm, which wit-
nessed the defeat and death of Alexander
King of Epirus by the Bruttiaus, B.C.


I.— E. of Cosenza, beyond the dense
cluster of villages called Casali, which
cover the hills on the 1. bank of the
Crati, is the vast tract of mountain
tableland still called by the ancient
name of Sila (Virg. ^n. xii. 715),
which is perhaps leas known and ex-
plored by travellers than any mountain
district in the S. of Europe. It is
about 40 m. long, and from 15 to 20
broad, commencing near the Muconc
S. of Bisignano and Acri, and stretchinc

Digitized by V^tjOQlC


Boute 30. — Beggio to GioiorTauro.

through the whole of Calahria Citeriore
into Calabria IJlteriore II., nearly as
far as Catanzaro. Many of the higher
peaks are covered with snow from Nov.
to April. The upper range of hills is
clothed with impenetrable forests of
firs ; the lower abound in oaks, beeches,
and elms, and present a succession of
rich pastoral plams, intersected by
beautiful ravines and watered by
copious streams. These table-lands are
used as summer pasturage. At the
breaking up of winter not only the
shepherds, but many of the landowners
themselves, remove to La Sila ; whole
families accompany this annual migra-
tion. The higher mountains command
both seas. The scenery of the district
is magnificent, combining every possible
variety of forest and mountain; the
woods abound in game, and the rivers
in fish. At Longobuco, on its E. flanks,
are some lead-mines. The forests and
pasturages of Sila were well known
to the ancients, and are described by
Pliny, Dioscorides, and Strabo, who
says that it was 700 stadia in length.
It supplied the Sicilians and Athenians
■with timber for their fleets ; and it is
still the source from which the Neapo-
litan shipbuilders derive their principal

As there is no accommodation to be
found within the range of La Sila, the
traveller must obtain letters of intro-
duction at Gosenza to the resident
proprietors in the summer season, who
are very hospitable.

II. — A road crosses the hills (4 hrs.
drive) to Paola, where steamers touch on
their way between Naples and Messina.
It follows the high road fix)m Naples
for the first 4 m., when it strikes off on
the 1., and ascending for 3 m. the 1. bank
of the Fmuli, leaves on a hill on the 1.
Bende (5286), supposed to be the ancient
ArinthOy and 8. FUi(4128), 10 m. from
Cosenza. Both these places havo a
station on the rly. From S. Fili the
road, through a series of windings and
ascents, crosses the ridge of the moun-
tains which separates the upper valley
of the Crati from the Mediterranean,
an4 descends to Paola (Rte. 11).






Harbonr Stat.
1 Town Stat.

3 S. Caterina

4 Archi

6 Oallico

7 Catona

9 Villa S. Giovaimi
11 Caxmitello
14 SoiUa
18 Favamna
20 Bagnara
26 Palmi
81 Gioia Tanro

Ely. in construction along the coast
from Gioia to Pismtta (Rte. 11). A
coasting steamer between Messina and
Naples touches once or twice a week at
Reggio, Messina, Gioia, Nicotera, Tro-
pea, Pizzo, Amantea, Paola, Cetraro,
Belvedere, Pisciotta, and Amalfi (sec
Rte. 59).

A beautiful line of rly., commanding
fine views of the broken shores of
Sicily. The country is enlivened with
groves of orange-trees, pomegranates,
palms and aloes.

Villa S. Gioyanni (4357) is delight-
fully situated on the shore S. of Punta
del Pezzo, below the cultivated slopes
of the lower ranges of mountains which
form so picturesque a scene from all
parts of the Faro. It is much fre-
quented on account of its salubiipus
climate, and, like Scilla, is remarkable
for its thriving silkworks. It is the
nearest point to Messina (boat in 1 hr.,
5 fre.).

The Xontalto (6910 ft.), the highest
summit of the A^romonte group, may
be ascended hence in 9 hrs. (mule and
guide, 15 frs. ; fatiguing).

• Digitized by V^OOQIC

Soute 30. — Scitla — Monte St. Elia.


Scilla (7448) is picturesquely situated
on a small promontory connecting its
castle with me mainland. The town,
rebuilt since the earthquake of 1783,
i-ises in terraces from me sandy bays
which lie on either side of the promon-
tory. It is noted for its silkworks, in
a district abounding in mulberry-trees ;
nearly every house exhibits signs of the
industry. The wines of Scilla have
also considerable repute. The Castle
occupies the bluff cliff at the extremity
of the promontory, and was formerly
the palace of the Prince of Scilla, a
branch of the Rufo family. After the
battle of Maida the fortress surrendered
to the English, and was held by them
18 months. The French besieged it in
1808, and, after making a breach, car-
ried it, whilst the English retired to
the shore by means of a covered stair
which they had constructed in the
rock, and embarked in boats prepared
to receive them.

The Book of SoUla, whose dangers
have been made familiar to every
reader by the Greek and Latin poets,
although deprived of its terrors, will
still be examined with lively interest
by the classical traveller. {Odyss, /*.
85 ; Virg. J^n. iii. 420 ; Dante, /»/. vii.

Charyhdis, placed by the ancient
poets immediately opposite to Scylla,
has been transferred by modem geo-
graphers to a spot situated outside the
harbour of Messina, and at least 10 m.
distant. This whirlpool, known as the
GarofarOf more closely corresponds with
the accounts of Charyhdis given by
ancient writers than the present cur-
rents off the Faro Point; but it is
nevertheless to be considered whether
the lapse of so many ages and the action
of repeated earthquakes may not have
materisdly changed the currents which
once rendered this passage dangerous.
The (dassical traveller will be im willing
to relinquish the idea that Charyhdis
was really opposite to Scylla. He will
idso be struck by the fact that a strong
current still sets through the strait, and
that there are counter currents setting
from the shore, producing frequent

whirlpools, though not of a dangerous

The bay on the W. side of Scilla was
the scene of a most awful calamity iji
1783. The town, on the morning of
the 6th of February, had been almost
totally destroyed by the first shocks of
an earthquake. Towards dusk another
shock occurred which rent the promon-
tory of Campella near the town, when
the entire face of the mountain fell
into the sea. The waters of the Faro
rushed with overwhelming violence
upon the beach, and in their retreat
swept away upwards of 1500 persons.
They returned again and rose to the
level of the town, throwing back upon
its ruins many of the bo£es they had
swept away in the first wave. On the
following morning Scilla had lost nearly
one-half of its inhabitants.

The distance from the Castle of Scilla
to the Faro Point is nearly 3J m. The
great fishery of the pesce-spada, or
sword-fish {Xiphias gladius)^ affords oc-

Online LibraryJohn Murray (Firm)A Handbook for Travellers in Southern Italy and Sicily ...: South Italy → online text (page 48 of 53)