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Our Guide To Scilla – Calabria’s Prettiest Fishing Village


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Hattie Honaker



Welcome to Scilla, a picturesque fishing village nestled on the Calabrian coast of Italy. Located in the province of Reggio Calabria, Scilla is widely renowned as one of the most charming and beautiful destinations in southern Italy. With its colorful houses, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views of the Aeolian Islands, Scilla offers a truly enchanting experience for visitors.


Steeped in history and tradition, Scilla boasts a rich cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. Legend has it that it was once the home of the mythical sea monster Charybdis, who posed a great threat to sailors navigating the Strait of Messina. Today, Scilla is more known for its serene beaches, delicious seafood, and warm hospitality.


As you explore Scilla, you’ll be captivated by its narrow streets lined with vibrant flowers, quaint shops selling local crafts, and charming waterfront promenade. The pace of life here is relaxed, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of the surroundings and embrace the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle.


Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat by the sea, a romantic getaway, or a cultural adventure, Scilla has something to offer everyone. From its ancient castle perched on a hilltop to its bustling fishing port, there’s a sense of history and authenticity that permeates every corner of the village.


In this guide, we will take you on a journey through Scilla, highlighting its historical landmarks, natural beauty, local cuisine, and much more. Join us as we uncover the hidden gems of this enchanting fishing village and discover why Scilla is a must-visit destination in Italy.


History of Scilla

The history of Scilla dates back to ancient times, with evidence of human habitation in the area dating as far back as the Bronze Age. Throughout the centuries, Scilla has seen the rise and fall of various civilizations, each leaving their mark on the village.


One of the most notable influences on Scilla’s history was the ancient Greek colony of Scyllaeum, from which the village takes its name. The Greeks established a thriving trading port here, capitalizing on its strategic location along the Strait of Messina. Scyllaeum flourished under Greek rule, becoming an important center of commerce and culture.


Following the Greek period, Scilla came under the control of the Romans, who recognized its strategic importance. They constructed defensive fortifications, including the imposing castle that still stands today. The castle, known as the Castello Ruffo, offers breathtaking views of the village and the surrounding coastline.


In the Middle Ages, Scilla fell under the rule of various feudal lords, including the powerful Ruffo family. Their control over the village lasted for several centuries and played a significant role in shaping Scilla’s history and culture.


During the 19th century, Scilla experienced a period of economic growth due to its thriving fishing industry. The village became known for its skilled fishermen and their traditional swordfishing techniques. Today, the ancient art of swordfishing is still practiced by a few local fishermen, adding a unique charm to the village’s maritime heritage.


Scilla’s history is also intertwined with various myths and legends. One of the most famous stories is that of the sea monster Charybdis, said to have dwelled in the waters near Scilla. It was believed that Charybdis would create powerful whirlpools, posing a great danger to passing ships. This legend, along with the village’s location near the Strait of Messina, adds a touch of mystery to its history.


As you explore Scilla, you’ll have the opportunity to delve deeper into its fascinating history. From ancient ruins to historical landmarks, each step reveals a new chapter in the village’s story, allowing you to appreciate the rich cultural heritage that defines Scilla today.


Scilla’s Charm and Beauty

Scilla is a place that radiates charm and beauty in every corner, captivating visitors with its idyllic setting and irresistible allure. The village’s unique geography, rich architectural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes make it a truly enchanting destination.


One of the main attractions of Scilla is its stunning coastline, which boasts picturesque beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The Spiaggia di Scilla, also known as Scilla Beach, is a must-visit spot for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs. As you stroll along the beach, you’ll be immersed in the tranquil atmosphere and mesmerized by the beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea.


The village itself is a charming maze of narrow streets, lined with colorful houses adorned with flower-filled balconies. The architecture reflects the influences of different eras, from ancient Greek and Roman ruins to medieval structures and more modern additions. As you wander through the streets, you’ll discover hidden alleyways, small squares, and charming courtyards, each with its own story to tell.


One of the most iconic landmarks in Scilla is the Chianalea district, known as the “Little Venice” of the South. This area is characterized by its picturesque houses built directly on the water’s edge, connected by a network of narrow stone walkways. The sight of fishing boats bobbing in the harbor and the colorful reflections on the calm waters create a scene of pure tranquility.


Perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea, the Castello Ruffo is another architectural gem in Scilla. This ancient fortress offers panoramic views of the village, the Strait of Messina, and the Aeolian Islands in the distance. Exploring the castle’s battlements and towers is like stepping back in time and provides a glimpse into Scilla’s historical past.


Scilla’s charm extends beyond its physical beauty. The village exudes a serene and laid-back atmosphere, where time seems to slow down. Locals are known for their warm hospitality, welcoming visitors with open arms and sharing the secrets of their beloved village.


During the evenings, Scilla takes on a magical ambiance as the sun sets and the streets come alive with the sounds of laughter and music. The bustling waterfront promenade becomes a gathering place, where locals and tourists alike enjoy leisurely walks, savoring delicious gelato and soaking in the vibrant energy of the village.


Every corner of Scilla tells a story, and its charm and beauty leave a lasting impression on anyone fortunate enough to visit. It’s a place where nature, history, and culture intertwine harmoniously, creating a truly unforgettable experience.


Top Attractions in Scilla

Scilla offers a multitude of attractions that showcase its rich history, natural beauty, and cultural heritage. From ancient ruins to breathtaking landscapes, here are some of the top attractions that should not be missed during your visit to Scilla.

  1. Chianalea

    Chianalea is a picturesque neighborhood in Scilla, often referred to as the “Little Venice” of the South. Its charming narrow streets, colorful houses, and fishing boats moored along the waterfront create a postcard-perfect scene. Spend some time wandering through the alleys, stopping to admire the traditional architecture and enjoying the fresh seafood at one of the local taverns.

  2. Castello Ruffo

    The Castello Ruffo is an ancient fortress perched high on a rocky promontory overlooking Scilla. Dating back to the 13th century, this majestic castle offers stunning panoramic views of the village and the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Explore the castle’s walls, towers, and ancient artifacts, and learn about Scilla’s fascinating history.

  3. Spiaggia di Scilla

    No visit to Scilla is complete without spending some time at the Spiaggia di Scilla, the village’s main beach. With its golden sand and clear waters, this charming beach provides a perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the picturesque views of the coastline. Relax under an umbrella, take a dip in the refreshing sea, or simply soak in the tranquility of this beautiful setting.

  4. Santuario della Madonna della Presentazione

    The Santuario della Madonna della Presentazione, also known as the Church of St. Mary of the Presentation, is a beautiful church located in the heart of Scilla. This religious site dates back to the 16th century and features intricate religious artwork and a majestic altar. Step inside to admire the ornate decorations and experience a sense of peace and serenity.

  5. Ristorante Santa Trada

    Indulge in the local cuisine of Scilla at Ristorante Santa Trada, a renowned seafood restaurant. Located right on the water’s edge, this restaurant offers a delightful dining experience with a panoramic view of the coastline. Feast on fresh fish, calamari, and other delicious seafood dishes while enjoying the gentle sea breeze and the picturesque ambiance.

These are just a few of the top attractions in Scilla, but there is so much more to discover. Whether you’re exploring the ancient castle, strolling along the waterfront, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Scilla is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart and mind.

Let me know if I can help you with anything else.


Scilla’s Traditional Fishing Industry

Scilla’s traditional fishing industry has been the lifeblood of the village for centuries, shaping its culture, cuisine, and economy. The art of fishing has been passed down through generations, preserving age-old techniques and customs that make Scilla’s fishing heritage unique.


One of the most prominent fishing practices in Scilla is swordfishing. For centuries, local fishermen have ventured out into the open sea in search of swordfish, using traditional handcrafted wooden boats called “lamparas”. These boats, equipped with fishing platforms and a tall mast with a lantern, allow the fishermen to navigate the waters and take advantage of the swordfish’s migratory patterns.


The swordfish are caught using a technique called “palamitara,” where a long net is deployed in the water and a series of wooden poles with nets attached are used to corral the fish. This method requires skill, precision, and teamwork to successfully bring in the catch. While modern fishing practices have evolved, a few local fishermen continue to preserve this ancient tradition, keeping Scilla’s rich fishing heritage alive.


The importance of the traditional fishing industry in Scilla extends beyond the catch itself. It has significantly influenced the village’s culinary scene, with seafood playing a central role in local dishes. The daily catch from the fishermen’s boats often finds its way to the village’s restaurants and market stalls, offering visitors an authentic taste of Scilla’s seafood delicacies.


One iconic seafood dish that represents Scilla’s fishing industry is “spada con peperoncino” (swordfish with chili). This traditional dish features fresh swordfish, caught off the coast of Scilla, marinated and then grilled to perfection. The addition of peperoncino, or chili, adds a spicy kick that elevates the flavors of the tender swordfish.


Visitors to Scilla can witness the bustling activity of the fishermen at the marina, particularly in the early morning when the boats return with their daily catch. This is a unique opportunity to see firsthand the dedication and hard work that goes into sustainably harvesting the sea’s bounty.


For those interested in learning more about Scilla’s fishing industry, a visit to the Museo della Pesca (Fishing Museum) is highly recommended. Located near the marina, this museum offers insights into the village’s maritime traditions, showcasing ancient fishing implements, historical photographs, and interactive exhibits that provide a deep understanding of Scilla’s fishing heritage.


The traditional fishing industry is not just a livelihood in Scilla; it is an integral part of the village’s identity and a symbol of its strong connection to the sea. Whether you witness the fishermen setting sail at dawn or savor the flavors of the fresh catch in a local restaurant, you will experience the authentic essence of Scilla’s fishing industry and the cultural richness it brings to this charming village.


Local Cuisine in Scilla

Scilla’s local cuisine is a testament to its coastal location, with an emphasis on fresh seafood and traditional flavors. The village is renowned for its delicious seafood dishes and the use of locally sourced ingredients that reflect the bounty of the Mediterranean Sea.


One must-try dish in Scilla is “Baccalà alla Ghiotta,” a specialty made from salted cod fish. The fish is soaked to remove the salt, then cooked with tomatoes, onions, capers, and olives. The result is a savory and flavorful dish that showcases the culinary expertise of the region.


Another popular seafood delicacy is “Frittura di Paranza,” a mixed seafood platter that typically includes small fish, shrimp, squid, and anchovies. The seafood is lightly battered and fried to perfection, resulting in a crispy and succulent medley of flavors. Enjoy this dish with a squeeze of lemon and a side of freshly baked bread.


Scilla is also known for its swordfish dishes, given the village’s longstanding tradition of swordfishing. Grilled swordfish, marinated with herbs and olive oil, is a staple on many menus. The fish is cooked to perfection, retaining its natural sweetness and flaky texture. It is often served with a side of roasted vegetables or a simple tomato-based sauce.


When it comes to pasta, Scilla offers unique regional specialties. One of the most beloved is “Fileja Calabresi,” a type of handmade pasta similar to fusilli. It is typically served with rich tomato sauce, adorned with grated pecorino cheese and a sprinkle of chili flakes for a hint of spice.


Scilla’s cuisine doesn’t stop at seafood. The village is surrounded by fertile land that yields fresh produce, which plays a vital role in the local culinary scene. The region’s agriculture adds depth to the cuisine and complements the seafood dishes perfectly. You’ll find dishes featuring locally grown vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes.


Of course, no meal in Scilla is complete without indulging in traditional desserts. Delight your taste buds with “Bocconotti Calabresi,” small pastries filled with a sweet ricotta filling and flavored with citrus zest and vanilla. These bite-sized treats are the perfect ending to a delicious meal.


To accompany your meal, be sure to sample the local wines. Calabria is known for its robust red wines and crisp white wines, which pair harmoniously with the flavors of the region.


Whether you choose a rustic trattoria or an elegant seafood restaurant, dining in Scilla is a culinary experience that celebrates the freshest ingredients and traditional flavors. Prepare to indulge your senses as you savor the rich and diverse cuisine that makes Scilla a true gastronomic delight.


Best Time to Visit Scilla

Scilla is a beautiful destination that can be enjoyed throughout the year, each season offering a unique experience. The best time to visit depends on your preferences, whether you’re seeking warm weather for beach activities or a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere.


The summer months of June, July, and August are the peak tourist season in Scilla. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, perfect for sunbathing on the beach and taking a refreshing dip in the sea. The village comes alive with vibrant energy, bustling with visitors enjoying the restaurants, cafes, and waterfront promenade. However, keep in mind that these months can be crowded, so if you prefer a quieter experience, it’s best to plan your visit during the shoulder seasons.


Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are ideal times to visit Scilla if you want to avoid the crowds while still enjoying pleasant weather. The temperatures are mild, making it comfortable for exploring the village, strolling along the beach, and immersing yourself in the local culture. Spring brings colorful blossoms, while autumn offers crisp air and occasional rainfall, adding a touch of romance to the charming streets of Scilla.


For those seeking a more secluded and tranquil experience, consider visiting Scilla during the winter months of December to February. Although the weather is cooler, the village retains its charm and offers a serene atmosphere. You can enjoy long walks on the beach, cozy evenings by the fireplace, and authentic culinary experiences without the hustle and bustle of the high season. The winter months also provide an opportunity to witness Scilla’s traditional way of life, as the local fishermen continue their age-old practices.


It’s important to note that Scilla’s festivals and events also play a role in deciding the best time to visit. The Feast of St. Rocco in August and the Swordfish Festival in September are popular events that showcase the village’s traditions and cultural heritage. These festivities bring the streets of Scilla to life, with lively processions, music, and local delicacies.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Scilla depends on your personal preferences. Whether you prefer the vibrant energy of the summer months or the serene ambiance of the shoulder seasons, Scilla’s natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality will leave a lasting impression no matter when you choose to visit.


How to Get to Scilla

Scilla is located in the southern region of Calabria, Italy, and can be easily accessed by various modes of transportation. Whether you prefer to travel by air, train, or car, there are convenient options available to reach this charming village.


By Air: The closest international airport to Scilla is Lamezia Terme International Airport (SUF), located approximately 115 kilometers north of the village. The airport offers flights to and from major cities in Italy and various European destinations. From the airport, you can rent a car or take a taxi to Scilla, which is about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive.


By Train: Scilla is well-connected by train, with the nearest train station being Scilla-Distretto Turistico located in the heart of the village. The national rail network, Trenitalia, operates regular train services to Scilla from major cities like Reggio Calabria, Rome, and Naples. The journey from Reggio Calabria, which has a larger train station with more connections, takes approximately 30 minutes.


By Car: Scilla is easily accessible by car, and driving along the picturesque coastal roads of Calabria is a delightful experience. If you’re coming from the north, take the A3 highway and exit at Reggio Calabria. From there, follow the SS18 coastal road, commonly known as the “Statale,” for approximately 30 kilometers to reach Scilla. If you’re coming from the south, exit the A2 highway at Rosarno and follow the SS18 northbound.


By Ferry: Another option to reach Scilla is by ferry. There are ferry services available from various ports in Italy, such as Messina and Villa San Giovanni, to the nearby port of Reggio Calabria. From Reggio Calabria, you can then take a short train or taxi ride to Scilla.


Once you arrive in Scilla, getting around the village is quite manageable on foot. The narrow streets and charming alleys are best explored on foot, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the village’s ambiance. If you wish to venture further or explore the surrounding areas, renting a car is recommended.


Traveling to Scilla is a journey that takes you to a hidden gem along the Calabrian coast. Whether you arrive by air, train, ferry, or prefer the freedom of a road trip, the beauty and charm of Scilla are sure to captivate you from the moment you arrive.


Accommodation Options in Scilla

Scilla offers a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget. Whether you’re seeking a luxury beachfront hotel, a cozy bed and breakfast, or a charming guesthouse, you’ll find a variety of choices that provide comfort and convenience during your stay in this picturesque village.


Hotels: Scilla boasts several hotels that cater to different needs and offer stunning views of the sea. Beachfront hotels provide direct access to the golden sands and turquoise waters, allowing guests to enjoy the tranquil ambiance. Many hotels in Scilla feature amenities such as swimming pools, on-site restaurants, and spa facilities, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable stay.


Bed and Breakfasts: For a more intimate and authentic experience, consider staying at a charming bed and breakfast in Scilla. These establishments often have a limited number of rooms, allowing for personalized attention and a warm, homely atmosphere. You can expect comfortable accommodations, delicious homemade breakfast, and friendly hosts who can provide helpful tips and recommendations for exploring the village.


Guesthouses: Scilla is also home to several guesthouses, which offer cozy and affordable accommodations. These guesthouses often provide comfortable rooms with private or shared bathrooms, creating a welcoming environment for guests. Staying in a guesthouse allows travelers to connect with fellow visitors and experience the local hospitality firsthand.


When choosing your accommodation in Scilla, consider its location and proximity to the attractions you wish to visit. It’s worth noting that staying in a beachfront property not only offers stunning views but also allows you to easily access the beach and enjoy the sound of the waves throughout your stay.


Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll find that Scilla’s accommodations are known for their warm hospitality, attentive service, and commitment to making your visit memorable. Many establishments showcase the region’s unique charm and architectural style, adding to the overall experience of staying in this beautiful coastal village.


It is recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the peak summer months, as Scilla is a popular tourist destination. This ensures that you secure your preferred accommodation and have a seamless experience during your visit.


Whether you prefer luxury, comfort, or a more intimate setting, Scilla offers a range of accommodation options that will make your stay in this charming village truly memorable.


Exploring the Surrounding Areas

While Scilla offers a wealth of attractions and experiences within its charming streets, venturing out to explore the surrounding areas will unveil even more natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural gems. From ancient ruins to breathtaking landscapes, here are a few places you can visit near Scilla to enhance your trip:


Reggio Calabria: Just a short distance from Scilla, the city of Reggio Calabria is a must-visit. Known for its magnificent waterfront promenade, Corso Garibaldi, and the world-renowned Riace Bronzes – ancient Greek sculptures displayed in the National Archaeological Museum – Reggio Calabria offers a fascinating blend of history and modernity.


Tropea: Located about 100 kilometers northwest of Scilla, Tropea is a charming coastal town famous for its stunning beaches, scenic cliffs, and the iconic Santa Maria dell’Isola church. Explore the narrow streets of the historic center, visit the Norman cathedral, and be captivated by the magical views from the scenic viewpoints.


Aspromonte National Park: Nature enthusiasts will find the Aspromonte National Park a captivating destination for outdoor adventures. This vast protected area encompasses rugged mountains, lush forests, and picturesque streams. Hike along scenic trails, spot wildlife, and visit picturesque villages nestled in the mountains.


Reggio Calabria-Messina Ferry: Consider taking a ferry ride from Reggio Calabria to Messina in Sicily. The short journey offers breathtaking views of the Strait of Messina and the opportunity to explore the vibrant city of Messina, with its historical landmarks and delectable Sicilian cuisine.


Locri: Just a short drive from Scilla, the ancient city of Locri showcases impressive archaeological remains dating back to ancient Greece. Explore the ruins, including the Greek theater and the Temple of Marasà, to get a glimpse into the region’s rich history.


These are just a few examples of the many attractions near Scilla that are waiting to be explored. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply enjoying the coastal beauty, the surrounding areas offer an abundance of possibilities to complement your visit to Scilla.


When planning day trips, it’s recommended to check the opening hours and accessibility of the attractions, as well as consider public transportation options or renting a car for flexibility.


By exploring the surrounding areas, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse landscapes, historical heritage, and cultural richness of the southern Italian region, making your trip to Scilla an enriching and unforgettable experience.



Scilla is a hidden gem along the Calabrian coast of Italy, offering visitors a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and authentic charm. From its enchanting streets lined with colorful houses to its pristine beaches and panoramic views of the surrounding coastline, Scilla provides a truly captivating experience for all who visit.


Steeped in ancient history and myth, Scilla’s past unfolds around every corner, with its ancient castle, narrow alleyways, and picturesque fishing port. The village’s traditional fishing industry not only adds to its charm but also influences its renowned seafood cuisine, allowing visitors to indulge in the freshest and most flavorful dishes.


Whether you choose to explore Scilla’s top attractions, immerse yourself in the cultural heritage, or venture to the surrounding areas to discover more hidden treasures, you’ll be enchanted by the warm hospitality of the locals and the tranquil ambiance of the village.


The best time to visit Scilla depends on your preferences, whether you desire the vibrancy of the summer months or the peaceful allure of the shoulder seasons. Whenever you choose to visit, Scilla will welcome you with open arms and show you the unique beauty of the southern Italian coast.


As you plan your visit to Scilla, consider the various accommodation options available to make your stay comfortable and memorable. From luxury hotels with breathtaking sea views to cozy bed and breakfasts and guesthouses that offer an authentic experience, Scilla has something to suit every traveler’s needs.


Exploring the surrounding areas near Scilla will further enrich your experience, offering opportunities to discover ancient ruins, national parks, and charming towns that showcase the region’s natural and cultural diversity.


In conclusion, Scilla is a destination that truly captures the heart and imagination. Its charm, beauty, and rich heritage make it a perfect choice for those seeking an authentic and unforgettable Italian experience. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be immersed in the tranquility and allure of this enchanting fishing village, creating memories that will last a lifetime.