Comune di Reggio Calabria
The town of Reggio Calabria is the administrative chief-lieu of this area. It is the most populated and second biggest city in Calabria, as well as the only metropolitan city in this region and the oldest Greek colony in Southern Italy (one of the oldest cities in the whole of Europe). Reggio stands at the foot of Aspromonte on the “toe” of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula; its central location in the Mediterranean area has blessed it with a highly panoramic landscape, embracing Sicily, mount Etna and the Aeolian islands.
With their many art nouveau buildings, the streets of the historic centre run parallel to the lungomare, the seaside promenade which writer Gabriele D’Annunzio nicknamed “the most beautiful kilometer in Italy”, lined as it is with magnolias, palm trees, rare and exotic plants.
The Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria is one of the most important ones dedicated to Magna Graecia; it hosts the famous Riace Bronzes, two precious reminders of the ancient Greek bronze sculpture tradition which have become the heraldic symbols of Reggio. Owing to a series of catastrophic natural events (including the infamous 1908 earthquake), many works of art and old buildings have been destroyed over time; nonetheless, there still are prestigious monuments and remains from long-gone centuries bearing witness to this city’s several-thousand-year-old history. The city centre is prevailingly modeled after early 20th-century architectural conventions, presenting a wide range of different styles, spanning from art nouveau buildings to the neo-gothic Zerbi Palace, the neo-classical Francesco Cilea Town Theatre and the eclectic Mazzitelli Palace. There also are many buildings in the so-called fascist fashion, such as the Main Station, the National Museum of Magna Graecia designed by the architect Piacentini and the former Fascist Youth Barracks). There are several churches of high artistic and cultural value, with the local Duomo – the Main Cathedral – standing out as the biggest sacred building in the whole of Calabria, presenting imposing works of art, such as the statues of Saint Paul and Saint Stephen on the two sides of the entrance stairway, or the chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament – today a national monument as well as one of the most praiseworthy examples of the Baroque style in Calabria.
Reggio is set in the heart of a tourism area of great historical and cultural value; the very fertile agricultural zone where it is located presents favourable weather conditions and abundant sources of water for irrigation, a feature which has contributed to make viticulture, olive growing and citrus fruits cultivation three very prospering sectors; the bergamot orange, a fruit which yields its best qualities under the conditions met in the territory around Reggio, is especially important for local economy, so much so that it has now become one of this city’s symbols.