Pizzo Guide

Pizzo in Calabria

Pizzo is one of Calabria's prettiest towns, with elegant palazzi perched precariously on a steep cliff overlooking the ocean and a charming centro storicothat is a tiny tangle of pastel-painted houses, narrow lanes and steep stairs reminiscent of Positano. Known locally as 'u Pizzu', this alluring coastal town on the Tyrrhenian Sea is a delight to explore.
by travel guide writer Lara Dunston  

Pizzo di Calabria

Italy has 20 regions, with Calabria being the most southern part of mainland Italy. Calabria spreads over five provinces, with Vibo Valentia being the smallest but probably the luckiest with a lively provincial capital, its beautiful seaside towns Pizzo and Tropea, enchanting forests and the spectacular coast line called Costa degli dei, Coast of Gods. Pizzo's history dates back to 1300 when the existence of a community of Basilian monks, a fort, and a fishing village is documented. Older legends tells that Ulysses, Cicero and Saint Peter came to shore to rest from travelling in Pizzo's small fisher bay called La Seggiola. In 1815, Joachim Murat, King of Naples and Sicily, brother-in-law of Napoleon, landed in Pizzo to initiate a revolt against the Bourbon rulers. However, he was captured and imprisoned by Pizzitani and later executed in Pizzo's Castello Aragonese Murat.

Today, Pizzo has about 9,000 inhabitants, called Napitani or Pizzitani, and stretches out for about 10 km along the coast with different beach sections. This fisher village is home for 10 churches and around 15 gelaterie which are all selling the famous tartufo ice cream invented in Pizzo to honour the visit of Prince Umberto I of Savoy in 1943. The different quarters of Pizzo are Centro Storico (the old town 50 meter above sea level), La Marina (beach area of the old town), Nazionale (busy modern area along the National Street), Piedigrotta (residential area near the church of same name) and further north La Marinella (a residential zone). In the last years, some real estate development for vacationer mushroomed towards the airport (Pizzo Beach Club) and behind la Strada Nazionale (Borgonuovo, Fioribello and Napita Hills). However, Pizzo with just one hotel in the centro storico is less touristy than Tropea. But luckily Pizzo is a village were locals live and work all year round, which makes it a much livelier place during winter than its 'rival' further South. (photo: Pizzo by S Crosetto)

Pizzo Calabria

Lamezia Terme (SUF) international airport is connected with around 40 destinations in 12 countries via Alitalia, Air Italy, Ryanair, Monarch, Air Berlin, Easyjet, Germanwings, KLM, Air France, Helvetic Airways and others from spring to autumn. There are as well daily flights from Milan and Rome all year round. It is about one hour flight from Rome, 2h from Munich and 3h from London. From Lamezia's international airport to Pizzo centro it is only 20-30 min drive (about 25 km). The next airport would be Reggio Calabria (app. 130 km to Pizzo).

By TRAIN: Pizzo has two train stations; one is "Pizzo" at the end of Pizzo Marina (about 30 min walk from the residence) and served by local trains to and from Lamezia Terme, Tropea, Gioia Tauro, and Reggio Calabria. During summer, it is also served by larger trains from Rome and other Northern cities. The second station is "Vibo Valentia - Pizzo" on the Tyrrhenian line. It is a few km up the hills between Pizzo and Vibo Marina. Eurostar, Intercity and overnight trains stop here coming from Naples, Rome, Florence, Turin, Milan, Venice and other Northern cities, as well as from towns in Calabria and Sicily. For more information, visit TrenItalia’s website. Calculate about 5h train ride from Rome. We can organise pick-up service from both stations.

From North: Highway A3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria, exit Pizzo. Then, follow the direction to Pizzo on SS 18. When arriving in the old town, there is a T-junction behind a church with a white dome. Turn right into SS 522 direction Vibo Marina. For the centro storico, follow the street for about 600 m. Before the bridge with the tunnel turn left into the Piazza della Repubblica. (The entrance is not allowed after 6pm without residence permit). Calculate an about 4h drive from Naples. 
From South: Highway A3 Reggio Calabria - Salerno, exit Vibo Valentia - Sant’Onofrio. Then, follow the direction SS 18 until the city centre. - We will provide further details with your booking.
(photo: Harbour Project Pizzo via P.Pitt - project on hold)

Pizzo di Calabria

Relax! You are travelling back in time. Enjoy an Italy of the 60ies! Life is slow here. Chill in one of the many bars and feel the atmosphere. Swim in crystal clear water at one of the various beaches. Stroll through the narrow alleys at different times of the day. Admire the sea view from different heights. If you still want some culture, visit one of the 10 churches or the castle with its small museum. With great joy we observe the local art and craft scene developing. You might discover some artist's studio on your walk through Pizzo's vicoli.
And then come back to one of the bars for another tartufo tasting.
La Chiesetta di Piedigrotta is among the 10 churches in Pizzo the most unique one erected in a grotta at the beach.
Il Castello Aragonese built in 15th century, today more known as the Castello Murat, hosts a little museum that re-enacts the scenes of former King Murat's last days.
La Dolce Vita Pizzo offers walking tours in English with Ana Rosa from May to September.

If you want to discover more and plan some day trips out of Pizzo, check out my list with "Places of Interest", or read my posts about Things to do in Pizzo and everything else I have ever written about Pizzo Calabro. Note: as our guest you will receive our little guidebook for Pizzo via email. 
(photo: roofs of Pizzo by S Crosetto)

Beach at Pizzo Marina
Pizzo is located at the "Coast of Gods", la Costa degli Dei, and the sea is Pizzo's most valuable asset. During summer, every Pizzitani spends time at the beach. But not everyone goes to the same beach. There are a variety of beaches in and around Pizzo, some have almost white sands, some are more rocky, some are in walking distance from the heart of old Pizzo, for some you would need transportation, and then there are those only reachable by boat. If you stay at Palazzo Pizzo Residence we recommend the "city beach" at La Marina (see photo). From your door step it is just a 10 minute walk through the piazza and downhill. On the way back it might take a little longer. Although this beach, as most others, is not serviced, it features a sweet-water-shower, and bars and restaurants at La Marina are just a stone throw away. - Note: Pizzo Marina is not to confuse with Pizzo Marinella which is an area outside town, and coming from the airport some km before Pizzo centro. At la Marinella you can rent a sun bed and umbrella during summer.  (photo: Pizzo Marina beach by S Crosetto)

A great summary of all beaches of the Costa degli Dei in German language, DEUTSCH: Eine sehr gute und fast lueckenlose Beschreibung aller Straende der kalabresischen Kueste der Goetter (Costa degli Dei) finden Sie hier:

Ape Taxi in Pizzo
Pizzo's oldest part of town is located on the 'pizzu', the rock. In these small picturesque alleys you do not need a car. The residence is peacefully located above the sea and despite its serene location you can easily reach within a few minutes walk all you might need during your stay: many gelaterie, bars and cafes, restaurants, pizzerie, a local cheese & milk shop (in summer open from 7:30 until midnight, sells also panini), a fruttivendolo (sells fruits, vegetables and even wine), a pescivendolo (sells the catch of the day), 'super'markets, a deli shop, a pasticceria, the post office, a growing number of local art & craft studios, a pharmacy, newspaper stands, fashion boutiques, souvenir shops, hair dressers and barbiere, jewellery and flower shops, a few churches - and of course - the beach! - We offer pick-up service from the airport or private parking space if necessary. - There is a Ape-taxi-service (see photo) in the piazza that circulates around the different areas of Pizzo (Marinella, Pedigrotta, Centro Storico, Marina).
(photo: Ape Taxi Service by S Crosetto)

Calabrian cuisine is, above all, rustic, hearty and honest. And it's spicy! Calabrian recipes use much more peperoncino (chili pepper) than the rest of Italy. You will find local chillies in various shapes, colours and sizes.

The tomatoes taste better here in the South (during summer) than anywhere else in the world, and so do the peaches, the mozzarella cheese and all local produces. The region is famous for it's tuna (tonno) and swordfish (pesce sparda), as well as for it's sweet red onion (cipolla di Tropea), and it's intensive green olive oil (olio d'oliva). After all, most famous in Pizzo is a special ice cream creation invented in this village to honour the visit of Prince Umberto I of Savoy in 1943: il tartufo - it's a must (you can share one)! There are around 15 gelaterie in Pizzo, each with its own secret recipe.(photo: onions from Tropea with tomato and chili by S Crosetto)

There are many simple restaurants and pizzerias in and around Pizzo where you can have great meals at a very reasonable price. There is no place "just" for tourists as Pizzo lives all year round and Pizzitani go out for meals too. If you look up restaurants in Pizzo on the internet, you will only find a few young and smart gelatiere who are up to modern times with website or facebook. Update July 2012: many bars in the piazza offer now free wifi! (if they don't have forgotten the password).
In Pizzo, a good pizza can be found at Il Cappero Rosso, SPQR or Le Castellane in piazza, and at La Marina at La Ruota, Moby Dick and Forte della Monacella. The prices ($) of a Pizza Margherita or a Spaghetti Vongole will make you happy and not want to cook at home anymore.

A very good restaurant, located above la Seggiola, is San Domenico. They do not have a menu as the chef cooks the catch of the day and what he found at the local market. Slightly more pricey ($$) then the usual restaurants in Pizzo, as you will order at least two courses. This small restaurant only serves dinner, starting around 9 pm, service is not fast, but dishes creative and tasty. Via Colapesce, Pizzo, Italy (0039) 3491390255

For a change try Don Diego (some years ago it was La Medusa). Their large terrace is overlooking the entire centro storico from above, bellissimo! I love the view at lunch time, even more than at night. But at night the owner, Tonino, who happen to be our neighbour, entertains the guest at a white grand piano, karaoke style, with an impressive voice. $$

La Lampara is popular according to Trip Advisor, and we agree after having "tested" it several times since April 2013. We all liked it! Very good choice and cooking. I liked the details of the interior, since this is key for that indoor only restaurant. $

Il Brigantino, just a stone throw from the main piazza up the Corso Garibaldi a tiny trattoria with few chairs on the corso offers a mall selection of salads, panini and pastas, served by a young and charming couple. Newly opened and popular among locals. $

Il Cappero Rosso,  in piazza opposite Belvedere, small restaurant (open since late summer 2013) with tables in piazza during summer, family run by Giovanna and Toni (former owners of L'Aragonese, Pizzo Marinella). Local fish dishes, tonno o pesce sparda as well as pizza are good choices. $$
GO has the most breathtaking panorama views (I prefer the view at lunch)! Because of its location in the hills, you will need a car. Relaxed atmosphere, nice for special occasions, food not necessarily overwhelming $$. Strada Provinciale per S. Onofrio, Pizzo, Italy 0039 347 1137854

La Degusteria on the way to Maierato/S.Onofrio (some km after "Go" restaurant), offers great local dishes. Nice for a change but car needed. $

L'Approdo in Vibo Marina (4 km from Pizzo) $$$ **** really good food - you might encounter some famous people who spend the night on their big yachts in Vibo Marina before heading to Stromboli or Panarea, Eolie Islands.
If this list is not enough for you, try to find more via tripadvisor.


Pizzo WEATHER forecast  - packing the right things into the suitcase!
CN24.TV Pizzo Calabro

Lamezia Terme Airport (international code: SUF)
Word reference online dictionary
Rete Calabria offers a nice collection of videos about culture, art and history focusing on Pizzo in Italian language
Pizzo Calabro website with information about Pizzo
Great travel guide  about Calabria published in English by Laura Dunston (2009)

Palazzo Pizzo on Facebook

Further information can be found on the blog about Pizzo and Pizzo Calabro.

(photo: Paradiso del Sub beach near Zambrone station by S Crosetto)
To get a good impression about Pizzo and getting into the holiday mood, watch this video via YouTube:

LITTLE GUIDEBOOK for Palazzo Pizzo Residence

We are pleased to announce we have compiled a little guidebook for our visitors! You will receive an updated PDF file to print or save on your tablet to have it on hand during your stay. We provide details and direction of our favourite restaurants, bars, shops and art studios in Pizzo. We recommend beaches, sightseeing, half and full day trips to start from Pizzo. See also my list with "Places of Interest"

We will update our guidebook continuously and with further guests' recommendations throughout the year.

- updated summer 2014 -

photo source: S. Crosetto for Palazzo Pizzo copyright 2006-2014