Chianalea is the old fishing village of Scilla, located at the foot of the rock where stands the Ruffo's Castle. The village, whose origins are lost between myth and legend, is distinguished by its characteristic conformation, with its narrow streets passable only by foot and the houses built really close to the sea. For these special features Chianalea was nicknamed the Venice of South and ranked among the most beautiful towns in Italy.
Scilla is a beach resort located on the Calabrian Tyrrhenian coast facing the sea of the Strait of Messina, few miles away from Reggio Calabria. Scilla is a popular tourist destination visited every year by thousands tourists from every part of the world, both for quality of the beaches and the sea, and the interest for its ancient history.
The origins of Scilla are so ancient that get lost in with myth and legend. In the epic poem the Odyssey of Homer Scilla is depicted as a sea monster, with the appearance of a woman in the upper body and with six monstrous heads of dogs in the lower part. According to legend Scilla was once a beautiful nymph who fell in love Glauco, a marine god half man and half fish. Scared by the appearance of Glaucus the nymph Scilla escaped to take refuge on the top of a mountain, leaving Glaucus alone and desperate in his pain. So Glaucus went to the sorceress Circe to ask for a love filter to conquer the love of Scilla. After listening to his story, the sorceress Circe rebuked Glaucus, reminding that a god does not need to plead with the love of a nymph and proposed to join her. Blinded by anger at the refusal of Glaucus the sorceress Circe scattered a potion in the clear waters where Scilla used to immerse, transforming her into a sea monster. Scilla, terrified by her appearance, took refuge in the hollow of a rock on that stretch of coast that taken her name.
The history of Scilla, little town known since ancient times, is closely linked to the history of the fortress and the castle that with its strategic position has made this territory highly scope and disputed. We have news of the first fortifications of the fortress as early as the fifth century. B.C. The first settlements were formed mainly by populations of fishermen who subsequently moved upward, the current district of San Giorgio, where fishermen turned into farmers and hunters. Over the centuries, Scilla has been a protagonist of historical events for the important position held in the area of the Strait. In the modern age it became an important commercial center and between 1500 and 1700 commerce was flourishing above all with the city of Venice. In this period Scilla is ruled by the nobles Ruffo who in 1533 bought the feud of Scilla and made important restoration and expansion of the castle that became their residence until the end of feudalism. Many of the traces of the past have been unfortunately canceled by the violent earthquakes that in 1783 and in 1908 have hit Scilla and all the area of the Strait causing extensive damage and loss. Many testimonies, however, survived the time and the forces of nature and you can still admire today the Castle of Ruffo, the ancient churches, numerous artifacts of historical and artistic value and the ancient village of Chianalea counted among the most beautiful villages in Italy.
The castle of the Ruffo of Scilla is certainly one of the major tourist attractions of Scilla and Calabria. Located on the top of a granite cliff about 80 meters above sea level, it dominates the districts of Marina Grande and Chianalea and is now identified as the symbol of the town. Imposing and well preserved the castle fascinates for its history and for the extraordinary beauty of its interiors, as well as for the enchanting panorama of Scilla and the Strait of Messina that can be admired from its summit. Once home of the noble family of Ruffo of Calabria, the rooms of the castle are now used for cultural purposes. Visiting the castle of Ruffo of Scilla represents today an unique opportunity to admire closely centuries of history.