Calabria is an ancient land that holds a millennial history in its gut. A past still carved into the rocks, the caves, as well as the archaeological sites scattered throughout our territory. In Reggio Calabria, if you just turn your head away from the sea and begin the climb into the lower Aspromonte hills, to rediscover the bond with our prehistoric roots. We assure you: this isn’t just a long, winding road, but a fascinating journey into nature that welcomes you with its vibrant green, at times contrasting with the white, almost lunar, rock. Departing from Gallico and taking the fast road to Gambarie, you come across Calanna.
To welcome and guide us are the majestic “tafoni,” the rounded, smooth-edged openings in sandstone and shaped by the weather, which have assumed different looks similar to the famous “fireplaces of the fairies,” (the famous rock formations of Göreme in Cappadocia, Turkey). We were fortunate enough to see these “unique” conformations bathed in the sun: the yellow of the rock assumes a color that resembles those of the desert dunes, while the sandstone grooves look like crochet. These rocks are framed by a sensational panorama that opens onto the silvery blue of the Strait, with the two coasts, Calabrian and Sicilian, in the background. Now we understand Ulysses’ effort to resist the sirens’ singing!
We have arrived in the Ronzo district: here in 1953 a necropolis was excavated from a wall of limestone dating to the iron age (the site, among the oldest in the province of Reggio, dates back to the 13th to the 7th centuries BC). These are 10 cave-like burial tombs, containing overlapping burials and skeletons placed in the fetal position. Unfortunately, the original site is now much smaller: erosion has caused several landslides, with the collapse of the tombs found below. The site however, remains impressive. Going just a bit further, about 50 meters from the excavations, you can visit the Museo Archeologico Comunale di Calanna (Archaeological Museum).
Recently inaugurated, the museum has been commissioned to secure and complete the project thanks to the co-financing of the Calabria Region, the project being carried out by the Calanna Municipality and Archaeological Superintendence, School of Fine Arts and Landscape for the metropolitan city of Reggio Calabria and The province of Vibo Valentia. The architectural and design studio, designed by Angela Canale, Antonino Giordano and Maria Immacolata Barbieri, aimed to create an experiential and didactic pathway as a unique Calannian story of relics and finds. The juxtaposition of wall-sized images of the past and the finds, those of only tomb no. 6, are kept at the Museum of Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria – where it allows visitors to “live” history and to imagine the necropolis at the time of the revelation.
The museum is divided into two halls: the first has a didactic function, with information panels that allow visitors to contextualize the historical period and to understand the funeral practices of populations of prehistoric times, as well as to “follow” the excavations initiated In 1953; The second, a multimedia room, is a real glimpse into Calanna’s historical memory.
Kept here are two finds of Byzantine origin, found in the necropolis and discovered in 1920 in Marchese, an impervious territory ideally located at the center of the triangle formed by Calanna and the hamlets of Mulini and Rosaniti. The most important, which was part of a funeral dowry, is a bronze pectoral cross, “enkolpion” engraved with the Madonna del Bambino, an object that was carried in memory of a pilgrimage. The other find is a green amulet, the steatite, depicting S. Giorgio sculpted in bas-relief.
Once you leave the museum, we suggest you climb the steps on the right to admire the panorama dominated by the remains of the Norman fortress, built on the likely Byzantine remains, which played an important military role in controlling the area of the Strait of Messina and the valley in Gallico. Spread out on the hill behind the museum center you can see the kilns for the processing of lime and clay.
Surrounded by this millennia of history, we recommend taking a break in the park area in front of the museum. Who knows what you might discover, possibly a protohistoric village that might be hiding among the rocks of Calanna.
If you want to deepen the history of this ancient country and find out what else keeps you, we suggest you visit the site: Proloco
To book a visit to Calanna’s archaeological museum you can contact our editorial office at 0965 810829.