Reggio Calabria has always suffered from earthquakes, which have destroyed the city several times, meaning that little evidence of the past has remained. The Greek town of Rhegion, a colony of settlers from Calcide and Messene and founded in the 8th century BC, had a long and complex history before reconstruction by Siracusa changed its name to Febea. However, the remains of a stretch of Greek walls are the only evidence of all this. After devastation by Alarics Visigoths in 410, in the Middle Ages Reggio was cited as a wealthy city, where the Byzantine culture flourished following the occupation of Sicily by the Arabs. The city continued to flourish under the rule of the Swabians, Normans, Aragons and Angevins, up to the 16th century, when its decline began. Incursions by Barbarians, epidemics and excessive taxation sorely tried the city and a powerful earthquake razed it to the ground in 1783. Currently the economy of the municipality suffers from a lack of industrial development, which is limited to small businesses operating in the food, engineering, timber, chemical and construction materials sectors.
The city and its monuments
The first and most important stop during a visit to the city is the National Museum, which holds important archaeological collections coming from sites in Calabria and Basilicata, helping the visitor to understand the ancient culture of this part of Magna Graecia; one of the main attractions is represented by the so-called Riace bronzes, two large statues of warriors representing the most typical image of classical Greek culture. Lungomare Matteotti is instead the heart of the city, a promenade lined with flowerbeds and exotic plants where one can admire the beauty of the panorama and the ancient Greek walls. The castle, built in the Aragon period, still conserves its two cylindrical keeps and a stretch of wall, while close by we find the Ottimati and San Paolo alla Rotonda churches. Inside the Duomo, reconstructed in Romanesque style after having been destroyed by the 1908 earthquake, there are the 17th century tombs of bishops and a marble pulpit decorated with two palms in travertine coming from the old cathedral. Finally, along Corso Garibaldi, considered to be the citys main road, we find the main public buildings such as the Town Hall.
The geographical area
There are many seaside or commercial towns scattered over the province of Reggia. Gioia Tauro, with its fertile terrain, has become one of the most important trading ports of the Mediterranean. Locri, one of the most lively towns on the Ionian coast of Calabria, owes its fame to the important archaeological area of di Locri Epizephiri. Siderno, an active industrial and commercial centre, is full of tourists attracted by the wide sandy beach and pleasant seaside promenade in the summer. Villa San Giovanni, an important railway intersection, is also a seaside resort looking towards Messina, surrounded by citrus groves and orchards. Finally, Marina di Gioiosa Ionica lies on a coast characterised by olive groves, agave and prickly pear plants, between the Tòrbido stream and the ridges of the Aspromonte mountains.