20th entry – calabria 2009

Beautiful Scilla hugs the mountain and spills into the Mediterranean. It sits north of Villa San Giovannini, the transportation hub between mainland Italy and Sicily. Scilla fronts the northern most point of Sicily. It a a city literally built into the rock face, so walking around requires great stamina. You are going up and down the mountain. Yes, the streets are beautifully restored; yes, there is a beach section for tourists and a sea-front section where the locals moor their fishing boats, but any time you walk, you’re going up and down a mountain.

Schilla 014We had one of our best meals in Scilla. I had home-made pasta in a white sauce of zucchini flowers and muscles. I had to stop myself form licking the plate. The waiter was very quick to point out that the muscles were from the local fishermen and fresh.

Scilla is divided into terraces. The top of the mountain is where the locals live. The next terrace down is full of restaurant and churches. The sea terrace is divided in two by the foot of the mountain. The left is all beach and tourists, the right is all fancy restaurants and B&B’s.

Before it was a tourist destination, Scilla was a working fishing village. The statue of the boy and the sword-fish it a reminder of that long ago profile. Today the tourist industry has replaced the search for fish.

Scilla has an unusual reputation. People tell you to be careful while in Schilla. Stores and restaurants will take advantage of tourists, and guard all your belongings. For me, these comments are pure Calabrese. I can hear my mother saying,  “Remember, nothing can be as good as it looks, and don’t trust another Calabrese especially one that has made it.”  It could well be that Scilla deserves its shady reputation, but it’s also more beautiful than most of the other Calabrian villages we visited. And, it was clear of trash. Not something I can say of many other Calabrian villages.