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 coastline 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 was documented. Old legends tell that one day the legendary Greek king Odysseus (latin Ulysses) came to shore to rest from travelling in Pizzo's small fishing bay called La Seggiola. Other early famous travellers who stopped on their way back to Rome are said to have been the Roman philosopher Cicero and later the Apostle Saint Peter. Much later, in 1815, Joachim Murat, at that time King of Naples and Sicily and Napoleon's brother-in-law, landed in Pizzo to initiate a revolt against the Bourbon rulers. However, he was captured and imprisoned by the vigilant inhabitants of Pizzo and later executed in Pizzo's Castello Aragonese (toady castello Murat).
Today, Pizzo has about 9,000 inhabitants, called the Pizzitani or Napitani (Pizzo once was called Napitia) and stretches out for about 10 km along the coast with various beach sections. This fisher village is proud home for ten (!) churches and at least 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. But each gelateria has its own secretly kept family recipe and even the Pizzitani argue about who makes the best tartufo.
The different quarters of Pizzo are the Centro Storico (the old town 50 meter above sea level), La Marina (city beach and promenade below the castello), Nazionale (busy commercial area along the National Street), Piedigrotta (residential area near the church of same name) and further north La Marinella (a residential zone on the beach). 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). Pizzo with just one hotel so far - the boutique Piccolo Grand Hotel, very close to our guest residence in the centro storico - is far less touristy than Tropea. We are very thankful for that as it keeps our village authentic. Pizzo is a Calabrian village were locals live and work all year round, which makes it a much livelier place during low season and winter than its 'rival' Tropea further South.
Our holiday apartments are located in the heart of Pizzo's Centro Storico, all in walking distance to the lively Piazza Repubblica, the main square of the village which is also called the salotto, the living room of the town, where everyone meets each other - when you hang out long enough. Beside meeting people, around the piazza you find what you need for your daily live: a small vegetable and fruit vendor, a friendly dairy shop, a mini market, an outstanding pastry shop or two, three fish vendors, two butchers, one bakery, one pharmacy, fashion, gift and souvenir shops, many bars & gelaterias, a good choice of restaurants, enough churches, and even a few artisans and artists.
HOW TO GET THERE:
International Airport Lamezia Terme (SUF) is connected with around 40 destinations in 12 countries. There are many direct flights from major European cities and even Toronto, Canada from spring to autumn - see a list of international direct flights to Lamezia. There are several daily flights all year round from Rome and other Italian cities to Lamezia. It is about 1 h flight from Rome, 2 h from Munich, and 3 h from London to Lamezia Terme. From Lamezia's airport to Pizzo centro storico it is just about 25 km or 30 min drive. We recommend to take a taxi (we can organise a pick up service) or rent a car at the airport (pre booking online is recommended) if you like exploring Calabria from your base in Pizzo.
Other airports to reach Pizzo Calabro are Reggio Calabria (about 110 km to Pizzo, 1 1/2 h drive), Catania in Sicily (about 200 km, 3 1/2 h drive including ferry), Naples (about 390 km, 4 h drive) and Bari (about 350 km, 4 h drive)
Pizzo has two train stations; one is the old station "Pizzo" at the end of Pizzo Marina (about 1 km from the town center) and served by local trains to and from Lamezia Terme (there is no regular shuttle between airport and train station), Tropea, Gioia Tauro, and Reggio Calabria. During summer, it is also served by larger trains from Rome and other Northern cities. The second and larger station is "Vibo Valentia - Pizzo" on the Tyrrhenian line. It is a few km up the hills between Pizzo and Vibo Marina. Fast trains and Intercity 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 around 5 h train ride from Rome and 2 1/2 h from Salerno (with Le Frecce, fast trains). - We can organise pick-up service from both stations on your request (there are no taxis waiting at these stations).
From the North (e.g. Naples, Salerno, Amalfi, Lamezia airport), take the autostrada A2 "Autostrada del Mediterraneo" (part of the European E45, before called A3 until 2017) direction "Reggio Calabria" (also "Reggio" or "RC"). Leave the autostrada at exit "Pizzo". Then, follow the direction "Pizzo" along the coastal road SS 522 for about 6 km. - Calculate about 4 h drive from Naples and 30 minutes from Lamezia airport to reach our rentals in Pizzo.
Arriving from South (e.g. Reggio, Sicily), take the autostrada A2 "Autostrada del Mediterraneo" (part of the European E45, before called A3 until 2017) direction "Salerno", exit "Vibo Valentia - Sant’Onofrio". Then follow the direction on SS 18 until the center of Pizzo.
We will provide further details for directions with your booking.
WHAT TO DO IN PIZZO:
Relax! You are traveling back in time. Enjoy the taste of Italy of the 60ies where life is slow and charming. Chill in one of the many bars and enjoy the humble atmosphere. Swim in crystal clear water and sun bath at one of the various beaches. Stroll through the maze of narrow alleys and discover something new every day. Admire the sea and sunset views from different angles at different times. For most activities no car is required.
From April to October, go to the beach often. Swimming is best from May/June to October depending on your preferences of water temperatures. How about some snorkeling and catching your octopus for dinner?
More sport? Jogging or power walking around the village and long beach walks are good exercise.
If you like fishing or sport fishing on a little boat that takes you on a scenic trip from Vibo Marina to Chiesa Piedigrotta and back, then our guests recommend Calabria Sport Fishing with Daniele.
If you crave culture and history, visit one of Pizzo's 10 churches or the Castello Aragonese built in 15th century, today more known as the Castello Murat, which hosts a little museum that re-enacts the scenes of former King Murat's last days.
La Chiesetta di Piedigrotta is among the 10 churches in Pizzo the most unique one carved into a grotto on the beach (to reach by a fun Ape-taxi ride).
And then come back to one of the bars for another tartufo - 'ice cream tasting' !
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 about May to September.
Want to learn something new during your holiday? Take a cooking class with Giovanna (upon appointment), or improve your Italian, take language lessons with Carmen or Marianna (depending on availability).
If the view of the vulcano Stromboli makes you feel like exploring the Aeolian Islands, you can go on a day trip starting at the port of Vibo Marina at 8 am and return at 8 pm, depending on wind and weather and Stromboli activities. Day trips include Lipari and Stromboli or just Stromboli "by night". If you want to hike Stromboli you need to spend the night on the vulcano.
Please note, as our guest you will receive our little guidebook for Pizzo and suggestions for day trips with a lot of details.
MORE ACTIVITIES in and around Pizzo Calabro suggested by us:
For historians and archaeologists: Archaeological Museum in the Castle of Vibo Valentia, Museo Nazionale delle Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria and Museo Statale di Mileto;
For artists and gallery lovers: Pizzo is attracting artists. Find the art studio of well acknowledged artist Antonio La Gamba (above Papa Parking) and Antonio Montesanti's ceramics studio at Tipica Shop (in via B. Musolino);
For kids: what is better than the beach and the sea?! Maybe get creative with clay? Visit artists in their studio (see above) and get inspired! Is it raining? Take a ride with the 3 wheeler ape taxi or assist the pizzaiolo at pizzeria SPQR;
Enough of the beautiful sea? There are hills and mountains and National Parks too for trekking and hiking all year round, and even skiing in winter.
Discover Calabria! Go on various day trips (with a rented car you are most flexible)
When it's raining: visit the Castello Murat in Pizzo, the Archaeological Museum in Vibo Valentia, Musaba in Mammola, read a book or visit an artist's studio;
Tropea (1/2 day by train or car)
Aeolian Islands (day trip by boat)
Stromboli by Night (by boat)
Day Trips to the hinterland (by car)
Wine tasting in Ciro
Shopping at Max Mara Outlet, Due Mari Commercial Center (near Lamezia)
see also our page about Calabria
Visit a local weekly MARKET (8 am - 12 noon)
Pizzo above via Nazionale on Thursdays
Vibo Marina, around the old train station on Mondays
Vibo Valentia, around upper Corso on Saturdays
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.
FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS
Easter - Holy Week of Processions and events
April 23 - Procession of San Giorgio, the patron saint of Pizzo
May - September - exhibitions, shows, concerts & varie food festivals (sagre) throughout the summer
Early June - Art Festival
July 16 - Madonna del Carmine Procession
September 8 - Madonna delle Grazie Procession
October 8 - 13 - King Murat Festival
November 1 - All Saints Fair
December - Presepe Vivente between Christmas and New Year
Public Holidays April 25 - Liberation Day
May 1 - Labour Day
June 2 - Republic Anniversary
August 15 - Assumption (Ferragosto)
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
Swimmers can be spotted as early as April and as late late as October. The sea however, warms up in May when weather is more stable than in April. In June some beaches start their service and renting umbrellas and sunbeds. But most beaches around Pizzo are public and you bring your own stuff.
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 you stay in Pizzo centro storico, 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, 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 tabacco stands, fashion boutiques, souvenir shops, hair dressers and barbiere, jeweler 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 (!).
If you want to explore Calabria during your stay, we recommend to rent a car at the airport. Scooters can be rented via agents in Tropea with handover in Pizzo. However, to explore the hinterland a car is the safer option. Tropea or Reggio Calabria can also reached by train.
Scilla : A day trip to Scilla
Badolato: A Sunday in Badolato
Serra San Bruno
Rossano, Ciro, Le Castella
Eolie Islands (Lipari, Vulcano, Panarea, Stromboli)
See also About Calabria page for distances in km and time.
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 as it has the calories of a meal)! There are around 15 gelaterie in Pizzo, each with its own secret recipe.
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 SPQR, Le Castellane, Il Cappero Rosso, Pepe Nero in piazza, and at La Marina at La Ruota, Moby Dick and Forte della Monacella. The prices ($) of a simple Pizza Margherita or a Spaghetti Vongole will make you happy and not want to cook at home any longer.
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 ($$) then the usual restaurants in Pizzo, as you will order at least two courses. This small restaurant only serves dinner, starting around 9 pm, service is not fast, but dishes creative and tasty. Via Colapesce, Pizzo, Italy (0039) 3491390255
La Lampara is popular according to Trip Advisor, and we agree after having dined here several times. It is a nice little indoor fish restaurant with fishermen style decor and friendly service. English speaking owner Joseph (Guiseppe) is a great cook as is his mum. Reservation is recommended (locals arrive late). $
Il Brigantino, just a stone throw from the main piazza up the Corso Garibaldi a tiny trattoria with few chairs on the corso offers a small selection of salads, panini and pastas, served by a young and charming couple. Newly opened and popular among locals. $
Il Cappero Rosso, in piazza opposite Belvedere, is a small restaurant with tables in piazza in spring and summer. Local fish dishes, tonno o pesce sparda as well as pizza are good choices. Inside only very few tables under bright light $$
Il Toscano, sophisticated Calabrian cuisine, Michelin recommended and our favorite in Pizzo for special occasion or to escape the crowd in the piazza and the heat. Only inside seating, air condition $$
SPQR in the main square is our “canteen” for good value lunch, dinner and pizza, outside and inside seating available. My favorite pasta dishes are “Spaghetti alla Pizzitana” and “Spaghetti al Corte d’Assisi” $
GO has the most breathtaking panorama views over Vibo Marina! (we prefer the view at lunch). Because of its location in the hills, you will need a car. Relaxed atmosphere, nice for special occasions, food quality not consistently $$. 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. Indoor only (I think). $
L' Approdo in Vibo Marina (4 km from Pizzo, used to have a Michelin Star) 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.
BARS and ICE CREAM:
The bar scene in Pizzo is already very crowded - one after the other on the main piazza waiting to attract tourists for their home made tartufo creations -, however there seems always room for another bar. Almost every summer a new opening or change of name. The two or three most traditional bars in Pizzo are Bar Belvedere, Bar Dante and Bar Ercole (in alphabetic order). If you want to know who does the best ice cream you need to try all fifteen (!) something bars & gelaterie in Pizzo. Good luck!! Ok, to save you some calories, time and money: try at Ercole nocciola ice cream and at Belvedere tartufo nero and Torta Belvedere.
Pizzo WEATHER forecast - packing the right things into the suitcase! (see also chart below)
Lamezia Terme Airport (SUF)
Word reference online dictionary
"Cool Travel Guide" about Calabria (Both editions of Laura Dunstons's travel guide about Calabria are unfortunately sold out, so read her blog posts)
Palazzo Pizzo on Facebook
Get into the Italian holiday mood and watch some videos about Pizzo and the area.
For a good first impression of Pizzo and getting into the holiday mood, watch this video in Italian language:
LITTLE GUIDEBOOK for Pizzo
We are pleased to provide a little guide of Pizzo for our guests. You will receive an updated PDF file to print or save on your tablet, as well as a hard copy at the apartment to have it on hand during your stay. You will get direction to our favourite restaurants, bars, shops and art studios in Pizzo. We recommend beaches, sightseeing, half and full day trips to start from Pizzo. You will blend in with the locals from day one!
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