Pizzo is one of Calabria’s prettiest towns, with elegant palazzi perched precariously on a steep cliff overlooking the ocean and a charming centro storico that 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.
— Lara Dunston, travel guide writer


INTRODUCTION:

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. 


HOW TO GET THERE:

BY AIR: 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.  (See list of international direct flights to Lamezia.) 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.

BY CAR: From NorthHighway 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. 


WHAT TO DO IN PIZZO:

Relax! You are travelling back in time. Enjoy an Italy of the 60ies where life is still slow. 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 views from different heights.

Go to the beach often, and 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.

La Dolce Vita Pizzo offers walking tours in English with Ana Rosa from May to September. 

And then come back to one of the bars for another tartufo ice cream 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.

If you want to discover more and plan some day trips around Pizzo, check out my list with "Places of Interest", or read my posts about Things to do in Pizzo.

Please note, as our guest you will receive our little guidebook for Pizzo via email. 

Watch some videos about Pizzo and the area.

Take a cooking class with Giovanna (upon appointment).

Improve your Italian, take language lessons with Carmen (depending on availability).

Boat trip, gozzo type, departure Vibo Marina to Piedigrotta Beach and back (depending on weather, contact us).

Jogging or power walking around the village and long beach walks are good exercise too.


MORE ACTIVITIES (our suggestions):

  • when it's raining: visit a museum, read a book
  • for historians and archaeologists: museum in Vibo Valentia and Reggio Calabria
  • for artists and gallery lovers: Pizzo attracts artists, find the studio of Antonio La Gamba (Papa Parking), Antonio Montesanti's EOS Ceramica (in piazza), Francesca Procoppio's Studiolo Home Gallery (next to farmacia)
  • for kids: visit artists in their studio and get creative
  • Go fishing! 
  • Go hiking, or do a beach walk
  • How about snorkeling? Boating? Or golfing?
  • Or just swimming in the crystal clear sea?!
  • Go to the beach - chose a different beach every day (see beach section below)

Visit a local weekly MARKET (7 am - 1 pm) 

  • Pizzo on Thursdays above via Nazionale
  • Vibo Marina on Mondays, around the old train station
  • Vibo Valentia on Saturdays, around upper Corso
  • Tropea on Mondays

Most Calabrese have not yet discovered or understood the tourists' taste and demand. Therefore, the regional handicraft and artisans are not very much represented at the weekly markets. Instead the markets are offering a lot of cheap clothing made in China and the usual fake products sold by Africans. However, sometimes you can find the handcrafted baskets, pottery or embroidered table clothes. And of course you will find farmers selling local produces as the farmers' market is part of the larger weekly markets. Read a blog post here.  


BEACHES:

 
 

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.  

  • Pizzo Marina - the nearest beach from the residence within just 10 - 15 minutes walk is the beach below the castello; not serviced (bring your own parasol and beach towel), but there are two sweet water showers and nearby bars and pizzerie).
  • Pizzo Piedigrotta - to reach within 3 minutes by car or Ape Taxi, flat water, nice for little kids, can be combined with a visit of the Church Piedigrotta, a curiosity of Pizzo.
  • Pizzo Marinella - by car, 8 min., for beach walkers, in summer more tourists than locals, serviced beach from June to September with umbrellas and sunbeds, bar and restaurant, lifeguard
  • Vibo Marina, Proserpina - by car 8 min, serviced with sun chairs, umbrellas and music..., nice for small kids and the parents
  • Vibo Marina, La Vela - by car 10 min, serviced, behind the harbour, deeper water, waves 
  • Briatico, Punto Safo - by car, 15-20 min., sometimes waves, old ruin of the torre di Briatico
  • Sant' Irene - by car, 20-25 min, follow the sign 'Briatico' and then 'Sant' Irene', there is a rock to climb and jump
  • Paradiso del Sub, near Zambrone train station - by car, 23-30 min, plus hiking, worth to see!
  • Tropea - by car 45 min., below the city, crowded in summer but impressive back drop
  • Capo Vaticano - by car 50-60 min., very crowded in summer, but worth to see
  • Straende von Pizzo bis Tropea - Beaches from Pizzo to Tropea 
  • Die Straende von Tropea - The Beaches of Tropea
  • Straende von Tropea bis Nicotera - Beaches from Tropea to Nicotera 

HOW TO MOVE AROUND

Pizzo's oldest part of town is located on the 'pizzu', the rock. In its small picturesque alleys you do not need a car - actually it is even better to not move your car. While in Pizo, all can be reached by walking! Or use one of the cute Ape-taxis to zoom around. 

The residence is peacefully located in the oldest part of the town center, high above the sea, and despite its serene location you can easily reach within a few minutes walk the main piazza with all you might need during your stay: many gelaterie, bars and cafes, restaurants, pizzeriea 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 pasticceriathe post office, a growing number of local art & craft studios, a pharmacy, newspaper tabacco stands, fashion boutiques, souvenir shops, hair dressers and barbierejeweler and goft shop, flower shop, a few churches and of course - the beach! 

We can help to organise pick-up service from the airport or train station. The Ape-taxis - usually easy to find in the main piazza - circulate around the different areas of Pizzo: La Marinella, Pedigrotta, Centro Storico, La Marina and Statione. On request they also drive you to Vibo Marina, the larger train station Vibo-Pizzo, and sometimes even to the airport (!).


DAY TRIPS:


DISTANCES :

from Pizzo Calabro (VV) to:

  • Lamezia International Airport (26 km, 30 min)
  • Vibo Marina port (4 km, 7 min)
  • Vibo Valentia (12 km, 20 min)
  • Briatico, Punto Safo Beach (about 15 km, 20 min)
  • Tropea (28 km, 32 min)
  • Capo Vaticano (about 40 km, 50 min)
  • Serra San Bruno (42 km, 45 min)
  • Catanzaro (via A3, SS280 60 km, 50 min)
  • Seminara (via A3 65 km, 50 min)
  • Scilla (via A3 83 km, 60 min)
  • Soverato (via SS182 65 km, 1h15)
  • Reggio Calabria airport (via A3, 104 km, 1h15)
  • Stilo (via SS110, 79 km, 1h23 min)
  • Gerace (SS18, SS11 90 km, 1h30)
  • Gambarie (Aspromonte National Park), (A3/E45, 96 km, 1h30) <-- skiing! *
  • Camigliatello Silano (Sila National Park), (A3/E45, 123 km, 1h33) <-- skiing!*
  • Messina, Sicily (via A3 and ferry 105 km, about 2h)
  • Taormina / Etna, Sicily (via A3 and ferry about 155 km, 2h 1/2 - 3h)
  • Catania, Sicily airport (via A3/E45 and A18/E45, 196 km, about 3 h, including ferry)
  • STROMBOLI, Aeolie Islands (80 km, up to 12h, see Day Trips above) 
  • Amalfi, Positano (via A3 365 km, about 4h) - or take the fast train to Salerno (2 1/1h only!)
  • Napoli airport (via A3 405 km, about 4h)

FOOD

 
 

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 smartgelatiere 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 aSpaghetti 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 ColapescePizzoItaly (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 note, at night the owner Tonino entertains the guest at a white grand piano and sings karaoke, impressive voice, but not everyone's taste of music (wedding style). $$

La Lampara is popular according to Trip Advisor, and we agree after having "tested" it several times. It is a nice little indoor fish restaurant with fishermen style decor and friendly service. English speaking owner Joseph (Guiseppe) is a great cook as is his mum. Reservation is recommended (locals eat after 8pm). $

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, is a small restaurant with tables in piazza in spring and summer, family run by Giovanna and Toni (former owners of L'Aragonese). Local fish dishes, tonno o pesce sparda as well as pizza are good choices. Inside only very few tables under neon light $$

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. OnofrioPizzoItaly 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), * Michelin Star Restaurant where 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.


USEFUL LINKS:



For a good first impression of Pizzo and getting into the holiday mood, watch this video in Italian language:


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 for 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"

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