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What to see in Italy: Palmi, the city of Varia

2021-02-25 13:47

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What to see in Italy: Palmi, the city of Varia

Palmi stands on the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the slopes of Mount Sant'Elia, on a terrace overlooking a stretch of the Costa Viola.

What to see in Calabria: Palmi, the city of Varia


Palmi is known as the city of the Varia, the region's main festival, in 2014 considered the 'festival of Calabria', and is part of the Network of the Great Italian Shoulder Machines, since 2013 included in the UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Palmi lies on the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the slopes of Mount Sant'Elia, on a terrace overlooking a stretch of the Costa Viola.

Much of the municipal territory is formed by a series of hilly terraces that descend rapidly to the sea through a system of cliffs, small beaches and reefs.

 On a terrace at 228 metres above sea level there is the old town centre with the municipal house, while the hamlet of Taureana is located on another terrace situated further north at a height of about 100 metres above sea level. The remaining part of the municipal area is made up of Monte Sant'Elia (582 metres above sea level) to the south and, to the north-west, of a flat area on which the bathing districts making up the Lido di Palmi stand.

The main watercourse is the Petrace River, which marks the north-eastern boundary of the municipal territory, from the Pontevecchio locality to its mouth on the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

The Petrace is fed by seven tributaries and originates on the Tyrrhenian side of Aspromonte. Its final stretch marks the border between the municipalities of Palmi and Gioia Tauro.

The myths of Oreste and San Fantino are linked to the Petrace River. Bloody battles between the French and Spanish took place along its banks in the 16th and 17th centuries. During the Second World War, the two railway bridges that crossed it (and still cross it today) witnessed terrible bombings.


The westernmost point is called Capo Barbi, and from this promontory the Costa Viola begins.

The name derives from the fact that the sea, at a short distance from the coastline, reaches great depths, giving the water a dark blue colour that the sun, at sunset, colours with violet reflections. Just south of Capo Barbi is Punta Motta.


The entire coast of Palmi, which includes Marinella Bay and Tonnara Bay, is enriched by sea and coastal caves, beaches and rocks. Among the former are the Grotta delle Sirene, the Grotta dell'Arcudace and the Grotta Perciata. The beaches are those of Marinella, Trachini, Tonnara and Pietrenere-Scinà, while the main rocks are the Trachini rock, Pietra Galera, the Isola rock and the Agliastro rocks. Among the latter is the famous Ulivo rock, on top of which an olive tree has grown over the past centuries.




Regarding the origins of the name given to Palmi, there is a constant tradition, in the centuries following its foundation, that it took on this name because of the numerous palm trees that grew in its territory; so much so that with the indication De Palmis, Ruggiero I Count of Calabria specified that he granted the church of San Georgium, in 1085, to the Church of Santa Maria and the XII Apostles of Bagnara Calabra. Dominus Palmae was named instead by Baron Iacobus De Roto of Seminara in the Angevin registers of the barons of Calabria in 1333.

While, in the following centuries, the ancient notaries used the expression Civitas Palmarum to indicate Palmi. Which, in the sixteenth century, by Gabriele Barrio was called Parma  while Fra Lando Alberti was named as Palma. Carlopoli was also named in the aforementioned century, in honour of Duke Carlo Spinelli who rebuilt it fortified after a Saracen devastation, so much so that in 1567 the appellation of oppidum (confirming the fortification) and Palma nunc Carlopolis are reported, assuming that the new Carlopoli was built next to the old town. Only in 1669 does it begin to be written Palmi but, with the beginning of the XVIII century, the city was ordinarily called Palme, a name that always prevailed until the new order of the kingdom of the House of Savoy (1860), in which the name Palmi was definitively established.



Before the middle of the tenth century, Palmi did not exist, but it is believed that some farmhouses, belonging to the nearby town of Tauriana, must have been scattered around the then contrada De Palmis, so called because of the numerous palm trees that grew there spontaneously.

It is not to be excluded, however, that the city of Palmi could already exist before, since, in the 6th century, Cassiodorus in a letter addressed to Anastasio ("cancellaro" of Bruzia and Lucania), praised a wine called "Palmaziano" and argued that this name derived from that of a territory even if, later on, the glossators thought that it was referred not to a territory, but to its excellent superiority.

The municipal territory has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the findings from the excavations carried out in Grotta della Pietrosa or the remains of huts discovered in Taureana di Palmi.

From the 4th century B.C. until the 10th century, the town of Tauriana developed in the municipal territory. About its foundation, some legends tell of a possible Achaean colonisation of the area[. Other historical hypotheses link the birth of the town to the second half of the 4th century B.C., when some Brettian groups, specifically the 'Tauriani', became autonomous from the Lucanians, reaching and conquering part of southern Calabria. The town is mentioned in official documents of later times, when Livy asserts that in 212 BC, during the Second Punic War, the Taureans passed through Bruttium under the protection of Rome. In the early Middle Ages the town grew in importance and became an Episcopal seat.

In 951 Tauriana was destroyed by the militia of the emir of Palermo Hasan Ibn Ali and, fleeing, the part of the Taurians dedicated to trade and the maritime arts settled in the upper part of the coast, between Mount Aulinas and the Metaurus River, in the district of De Palmis where there were some farmhouses.

photo below:

Tavola Peutingeriana: Segmentum VI; depiction of the southern end of Calabria and the Strait, with Tauriana highlighted.



Little information has survived from the first centuries of the small village of Palmi (Palmae in Latin), a hamlet of Seminara. It is said that Count Roger I of Sicily gathered the Norman army from Palmi to conquer Sicily. From the beginning of the Norman domination, until the beginning of the 13th century, the only information concerns the events that accompanied the convents of Sant'Elia lo Juniore and San Fantino.

The size of the settlement in the 14th century must have been small, since the church of San Nicola was the only one in existence.

King Ferdinand II of Aragon took refuge in Palmi in 1495 after having suffered a defeat in Seminara against the troops of General Robert Stuart d'Aubigny.

The town was hit in 1549 by Saracen pirates and entirely destroyed. Therefore the feudal lord, Duke Carlo Spinelli, decided to rebuild the town by fortifying it. After its reconstruction the town grew in importance, attracting all the maritime traffic of the southern coast of Calabria.

Independent from Seminara in 1632, in the 17th century the town developed both urbanistically and economically thanks to the commercial activity of its inhabitants and the Marquis Andrea Concublet who established a 'fair'.

The eastern walls were demolished to allow the city to merge with the new agglomerations that were forming as a result of the increase in population. Also in the 17th century, the urban fabric, until then made up of districts far apart, was concentrated around a main hub formed by the new 'Piazza del Mercato'.

In the 18th century, Palmi went through the most prosperous period of its history, until it was hit by the Southern Calabria Earthquake of 1783, which completely destroyed it and caused about 1,400 deaths. The reconstruction of the city took place partially following the Master Plan drawn up by engineer De Cosiron.

The town was made the capital of the district in 1806. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Expedition of the Thousand landed at the Marina of Palmi, and the event caused the numerous Bourbon garrisons present in the city to flee. With the unification of Italy, the district was repealed and Palmi was placed at the head of the homonymous district (abolished in 1927). In 1894 the city was the epicentre of an earthquake that produced numerous ruins and 9 deaths.

In 1908 Palmi was again destroyed, almost in its entirety, by the violent earthquake of 28 December, which caused about 600 deaths in the Calabrian city alone. The built-up area was rebuilt to a design by engineer Pucci, completely changing the urban layout of past centuries. The reconstruction, which lasted throughout the first half of the 20th century, gave the city a pleasant appearance, with the uniformity of the volumes, the neoclassical style of the new buildings and the creation of monuments and works of art.

The post-war period saw the development of the city in the tertiary sector, making Palmi the main administrative, managerial and scholastic centre of the Tyrrhenian side of the province thanks to the establishment of secondary schools, armed forces structures, health and judicial facilities and the headquarters of other public and private bodies. In 1998, the Province of Reggio Calabria established the Piana District, which was renamed the Palmi District in 2008.

photo below:

Drawing by Edward Lear included in the book 'Diary of a journey on foot, Calabria' of 1847.


Monuments and places of interest


Religious architecture

The city's places of worship are as follows:

Co-cathedral of St Nicholas (1932), the city's cathedral and co-cathedral of the Oppido Mamertina-Palmi diocese. The building is in neo-Romanesque style and inside it keeps an XVIII century painting of the Madonna della Sacra Lettera and the relic of the Sacred Hair;
Church of Maria Santissima del Soccorso (1930's), in late Baroque style, the main altar houses the 18th century statue of the Madonna del Soccorso;
Church of Maria Santissima del Rosario (1937), in neo-Romanesque style, contains the venerated statue of St Anthony of Padua;
Church of the Holy Family (2005), an example of modern architecture designed by architects Flavio Bruna, Aimaro Isola and Roberto Gabetti, it has received numerous reviews, including one in the "church of the month" column of the Italian Episcopal Conference;
Church of Maria Santissima Immacolata and San Rocco (1954), modern architecture built on the site where the two separate churches of these two saints once stood. It houses the statues of San Rocco (17th century) and the Immaculate Conception, which are highly venerated by the population;
Sanctuary of Maria Santissima del Carmelo (1927), in Baroque style with valuable artistic treasures preserved inside, including the miraculous statue of the Madonna del Carmine from 1782;
Church of the Holy Crucifix (17th century), in Baroque style, is the oldest place of worship in the old town and inside there is a 17th century wooden crucifix on the high altar, while the crypt below contains the diocesan shrine containing the relics of numerous saints;
Oratory of the Holy Rosary (1966), a modern-style place of worship that preserves an ancient painting of Our Lady of the Rosary;
Church of San Fantino (1953), modern architecture of Taureana di Palmi that inside preserves the venerated statue of the Madonna dell'Alto Mare;
Church of Maria Santissima Assunta (1977), Pietrenere church;
Chiesa di San Marco (1959), small church in the Tonnara di Palmi, dedicated to the protector of local fishermen;
Chiesa di Sant'Elia (1958), a small church on the top of the mountain of the same name, a reconstruction of the place of worship built in 884 by Sant'Elia lo Juniore. Inside are statues of the Madonna of the Mountain and Saint Elias the Prophet;
Church of San Giuseppe (1960), a place of worship in Palmi Scalo. The church was built when the tracks of the Southern Tyrrhenian Railway were doubled, in "perpetual memory" of the collapses that occurred in 1955 inside the tunnel between Palmi and Bagnara Calabra, which caused the death of 23 workers involved in consolidating and laying the tracks.
In the past, in Palmi, in the town centre and 'outside the walls', there were places of worship, the buildings of which no longer remain today (due to earthquakes, fires or Saracen devastation), but there is a trace of some of them in historical records and in the minutes of visits by bishops or parish priests of the time.


Civil architecture


Palaces, villas and towers


The city's main palaces, villas and towers are as follows:


Palazzo San Nicola (1932), the current seat of the town hall, was designed in 1915 by architect Vittorio Alberto Storchi;
Torre civica (1954), also known as the 'clock tower'. The tower, standing next to the city cathedral and equipped with bells, also serves as a bell tower. At forty metres high, it is the tallest building in the town;
Palazzo degli Uffici (20th century), in neoclassical style, is an architectural complex of particular historical interest. Built by provincial craftsmen, the palace offers a massive and balanced construction, highlighting its public function of marked classical derivation. The building is listed as a 'cultural site' by the Ministry of Culture;
Palazzo del Tribunale (20th century), architecture dating back to the Fascist period, built to house the court, the magistrate's court and the assize court of Palmi's judicial district. It still houses some offices of the civil court;
Palazzo della Caserma dei Carabinieri (Carabinieri barracks) (20th century), in neoclassical style, is a model of the typical building type of public buildings constructed in the Province of Reggio Calabria. Marked by decorative elements of the manual skill of qualified provincial workers, the building is among the bound assets of the Calabria Region and is catalogued in the list of 'cultural places' of the Ministry of Culture;
Palazzo Ambesi Impiombato (20th century), in nationalist style and designed by architect Marcello Piacentini;
Palazzo della Banca Popolare, also designed in the Nationalist style by architect Marcello Piacentini, to house the headquarters of the city's popular bank;
Palazzo di Giustizia (1980s), an example of modern architecture that houses most of the offices of the Palmi court;
Villa Pietrosa, also called "Villa Repaci" because it belonged to the writer of the same name, was renovated in 2008 by the Municipality of Palmi through a competition. Near the building, surrounded by olive trees, there is a small cave and a "guardiola", an observatory for swordfish hunting, planted on the spur of a rock, in a place from which the entire Costa Viola is visible.
Other interesting palaces and villas are Palazzo Bovi, an imposing building with red walls and white marble openings, where Nicola Antonio Manfroce was born; Palazzo Mezzatesta, whose main façade bears a shrine with a reproduction of the Madonna del Carmelo in memory of the miraculous event of the 1894 earthquake; and Palazzo Rossi, an old Art Nouveau building in which the writer Leonida Repaci set one of his novels.

 The town's theatres are the following:

Open-air theatre in Motta (2000), located on a terrace from which it is possible to admire the strait and the centres of Scilla and Bagnara Calabra. The structure, designed by the architects Rosaria Zoccali and Domenico Abbia, hosts many events of the "Estate Palmese" and has a capacity of 1,000 seats;
Cinema teatro Nicola Antonio Manfroce (1950), a large-capacity building with a stage for mobile and rotating sets, currently undergoing renovation. Artists such as Adriano Celentano, Katia Ricciarelli, Gino Bramieri and Domenico Modugno performed in the theatre, which at the time had the highest box office in Calabria.The cinema-theatre was built to replace the older Nicola Antonio Manfroce Theatre, inaugurated on 26 April 1893 with an opera directed by Francesco Cilea and demolished in 1938, after being seriously damaged in the 1908 earthquake.
In the city centre there is also the Cinema Teatro Cilea, which has been closed to the public since 1979.


Fontane monumentali

In città vi sono alcune fontane monumentali, realizzate dal XIX secolo ad oggi. L'elenco è il seguente:


Fontana della Palma (1922), collocata al centro della piazza Amendola e realizzata in stile barocco, del tipo berniniano moderno, dall'architetto Jommi e dallo scultore Giuseppe Sutera. L'opera riprende l'idea dell'antica "fontana del mercato", che era ubicata nell'attuale piazza I Maggio fino al 1886. Nel 1977 venne emesso un francobollo, che riproduceva l'opera, all'interno della serie "Fontane d'Italia";
Fontane dei Canali (1838), manufatto posto in piazza Lo Sardo che serviva a convogliare le acque provenienti dalle contrade Olmo e Vitica, da cui prendono il nome le varie fontane. Il monumento è stato ristrutturato nel 2011 dall'Associazione Prometeus, con l'inserimento di immagini bronzee raffiguranti scene cittadine e contadine dei secoli passati, ad opera degli artisti Fabio Belloni, Maurizio Carnevali e Achille Cofano;
Fontana monumentale (XX secolo), sorge in piazza Matteotti e al suo centro è collocata una colonna romana proveniente dai ruderi dell'antica Tauriana;
Fontana Muta (XX secolo), opera ubicata nel rione Ajossa, in piazza Carmine Fiorino, composta da un muro di sostegno davanti il quale, centralmente, è collocata la fontana mentre ai due lati di quest'ultima partono due scalinate per accedere al soprastante rione Pille;
Fonte di San Rocco (2010), opera dell'artista Maurizio Carnevali su progetto dell'architetto Bagalà, ubicata nell'omonima piazza. La fontana riproduce una scultura bronzea di San Rocco adagiato, con il cagnolino, nell'atto di abbeverarsi;
Madonna con Bambino (2013), ultima realizzata, in ordine di tempo, e collocata sul lungomare Costa Viola del Lido di Palmi, dalla quale si innalza una stele con la rappresentazione stilizzata di una Madonna con Bambino.

Architetture militari


Le architetture militari di Palmi sono le seguenti:

Torre Saracena, torre di avvistamento costiera risalente al XVI secolo. Fu costruita, nel 1565, dal duca Carlo Spinelli nell'ambito della riedificazione della città avvenuta nel 1549. Era chiamata anticamente «Torre di Pietrenere» per distinguerla dall'altra torre militare cittadina, detta di «Torre di San Francesco» (demolita nel XIX secolo). Il manufatto è tutelato tramite notifica del 16 agosto 1913 ed è collocato all'interno del Parco archeologico dei Tauriani.
Fortino di Pietrenere, ubicato al Lido di Palmi. La struttura fu progettata ad inizio del XIX secolo dai francesi, per ordine del re di Napoli e di Spagna Giuseppe Bonaparte, durante il periodo di Gioacchino Murat. Nel progetto il fortino, avente mura grigie di pietra levigata,doveva essere collegato ad una batteria di cannoni. La struttura, che serviva in quanto la zona fu un teatro di lotte tra inglesi, francesi e filoborbonici, non venne completata poiché i Borbone ripresero il comando del Regno di Napoli;
Torre quadrangolare (XVI secolo), collocato nel centro cittadino, in corrispondenza dell'antico borgo della Cittadella. L'opera è un bastione che faceva parte della cinta muraria cittadina realizzata nel XVI secolo e attualmente demolita.
 There are a number of monumental fountains in the city, built from the 19th century to the present day. The list is as follows:


Fontana della Palma (1922), located in the centre of Piazza Amendola and built in Baroque style, of the modern Bernini type, by the architect Jommi and the sculptor Giuseppe Sutera. The work takes up the idea of the ancient 'market fountain', which was located in what is now Piazza I Maggio until 1886. In 1977 a postage stamp was issued, reproducing the work, as part of the series "Fountains of Italy";
Fontane dei Canali (1838), an artefact located in Piazza Lo Sardo that was used to convey water from the districts of Olmo and Vitica, from which the various fountains take their name. The monument was renovated in 2011 by the Prometeus Association, with the inclusion of bronze images depicting town and country scenes from past centuries, by artists Fabio Belloni, Maurizio Carnevali and Achille Cofano;
Monumental Fountain (20th century), located in Piazza Matteotti, with a Roman column from the ruins of ancient Tauriana at its centre;
Fontana Muta (20th century), located in the Ajossa district, in Piazza Carmine Fiorino, consisting of a retaining wall in front of which the fountain is centrally located, while two stairways leading to the Pille district above it start at either end;
Fonte di San Rocco (2010), a work by the artist Maurizio Carnevali, designed by the architect Bagalà, located in the square of the same name. The fountain features a bronze sculpture of St. Roch lying with a small dog drinking;
Madonna con Bambino (2013), the last of its kind, located on the Costa Viola promenade at Lido di Palmi, from which rises a stele with a stylised representation of a Madonna and Child.


Monuments and places of interest
Military architecture


The military architecture of Palmi is as follows:

Torre Saracena, a coastal watchtower dating from the 16th century. It was built in 1565 by Duke Carlo Spinelli as part of the rebuilding of the city in 1549. It was formerly called 'Torre di Pietrenere' to distinguish it from the other military tower in the town, known as 'Torre di San Francesco' (demolished in the 19th century). The artefact is protected by a notification of 16 August 1913 and is located within the Taurian Archaeological Park.
Fortino di Pietrenere, located on the Lido di Palmi. The structure was designed in the early nineteenth century by the French, by order of the King of Naples and Spain Joseph Bonaparte, during the period of Joachim Murat. In the project, the blockhouse, with grey walls of polished stone, was to be connected to a battery of cannons. The structure, which was needed as the area was a theatre of struggle between the English, French and pro-Bourbon forces, was not completed as the Bourbons regained command of the Kingdom of Naples;
Quadrangular tower (16th century), located in the town centre, in correspondence with the ancient village of the Cittadella. It is a bastion that was part of the city walls built in the 16th century and now demolished.



The main monument is the War Memorial (1932), created by the artist Michele Guerrisi and inaugurated with a ceremony attended by Umberto di Savoia and Maria José of Belgium. The monument, located in Piazza Municipio, consists of a sculptural group with a base of granite blocks in the shape of a Greek cross, on which stand two groups of bronze figures. The first group consists of a soldier and a foot soldier. The second group is represented by two mothers united in pain and faith. Behind them are two columns of white Carrara marble. At the base of the columns are engraved the names of the 203 citizens of Palmi who fell during the Great War. Also in the square is the Monument to Work (2013), a sculpture in white marble and steel created by Maurizio Carnevali. The work represents a palm tree, the symbol of the city. The marble is engraved with depictions of work and family.
Not far away, in Piazza Pentimalli, is the mausoleum of Francesco Cilea (1962), also created by Michele Guerrisi and the architect Nino Bagalà to house the body of the artist from Palm Beach. The mausoleum consists of a masonry wall on which bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice are arranged, all around a bronze sculpture representing the muse Erato. The mausoleum contains a crypt decorated with mosaics containing the remains of the Cilea couple. Above it is a small clock in memory of the ancient tower that was destroyed when part of the Spirito Santo district was excavated to build the work.
From the above mausoleum, going up Via Buozzi, in the Gi.Sa belvedere there is the monument to St Francis of Assisi (1987), a bronze sculpture made by the artist Susan Loeb Luppino, on behalf of the Superintendency of Historical Heritage. The statue, placed on a stone and marble base with a fountain and a small garden around it, represents the saint with his arms outstretched as a sign of protection towards the city, as it is placed in a panoramic place from which one can admire the city centre and the Tyrrhenian Sea. In the Villa Comunale, a bust of the musician Manferoce by sculptor Vincenzo Jerace.
Descending into the historic centre, in Piazza del Carmine, there are some monumental works. The main one is the Obelisk to the Madonna del Carmine (1983), a tall granite stele on top of which is a bronze statue of the Madonna del Carmine, made by the De Luca company of Naples to coincide with the bicentenary of the 1783 earthquake. The stele was squared by local masters of art. The other monuments in the square are two bronze lions at the entrance to the sanctuary, one depicting 'the earthquake' and the other 'the people's trust in the protection of the Madonna', and a marble column, a historical find from the ruins of the ancient Tauriana.
Outside the historical centre, at the Managò belvedere on the top of Sant'Elia, there is a monumental complex consisting of: the monument to Domenico Antonio Cardone, a large iron cross (illuminated at night and visible from all over the plain) and the monument of the three crosses (20th century). The monument of the three crosses was built at the beginning of the 20th century and represents three white crosses, with the central one being the largest, in memory of the Calvary Mountain where Jesus was crucified. The monument was partially destroyed by bombing during the Second World War and was rebuilt in 1949 by the Municipal Cantoniers' Corps. In 2014, the complex was restored by the Rotaract Club of Palmi.
In contrada Acqualive there is a shrine dedicated to the Madonna del Carmine called "Croce dei morti" (Cross of the dead), which is mainly of historical commemorative value, while in Piazzale Trodio since 2014 there is the Monumento alla Varia di Palmi (Monument to the Variety of Palmi), also created by Maurizio Carnevali.
The list of city monuments is completed by a series of marble busts of national and local personalities of the past, located in the Villa Comunale Giuseppe Mazzini. These include Giuseppe Garibaldi, Vittorio Emanuele III and Nicola Antonio Manfroce.



"From the top of Sant'Elia, from the balcony overlooking the sea at Villa Comunale, from the steps of the Tower, you can enjoy a view that is second to none of the most famous towns on the Amalfi coast".

(Leonida Repaci)

There are many panoramic points in the city, thanks to the conformation of the municipal territory. In fact, in many places there are viewpoints from which it is possible to admire the entire Tyrrhenian coast between Capo Vaticano and the Strait of Messina (the Sicilian coast is often visible as far as Mount Etna) and, in the background of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands. This is why, in the past, many writers and poets have called Palmi a 'terrace on the Strait'.


The main vantage point is the Belvedere Managò, located on the top of the hill.









The archaeological sites in the territory are mainly located on the ruins of ancient Tauriana and along the coast. The most important of these is the Parco Archeologico dei Tauriani 'Antonio De Salvo', inaugurated in Taureana in 2011 in the area where archaeological excavations have been carried out systematically since 1995.

Inside the park, in addition to the Saracen Tower, there are the remains of a theatre with a capacity of more than 3,000 spectators, a Roman road that led to the via Popilia, a Roman sanctuary known as 'Donna Canfora's house', a 'Mosaic House' dating back to the 1st century BC, a residential area where it is possible to see the superimposition of Roman structures on those of the Bretti and a proto-historic village with huts dating back to the Bronze Age (4,000 years ago).

Not far from the park is the Complesso di San Fantino, a monastic place of worship dating from 1857 and now a museum. The complex consists of the 19th-century church, the ruins of a church from 1552, some tombs and the crypt of San Fantino, the oldest Christian place of worship in Calabria.

The Pignarelle Caves, near the Impiombato district, also bear witness to the Middle Ages. They form a rocky settlement of Byzantine monastic origin, created by the monks themselves between the 6th and 8th centuries by digging into the sandstone. The complex consists of several caves, the largest of which is in the form of a three-nave basilica with lateral corridors forming a Greek cross, and some tunnels.

The Necropolis of Scinà also dates from the same period, i.e. the Imperial Age, and consists of 64 tombs with grave goods dating from the 2nd-3rd centuries and from the late ancient or early medieval period. Ceramic objects and bronze coins were found in the necropolis.

Evidence of the prehistoric age is the Grotta della Pietrosa, a cavity consisting of a single large hypogeum environment in which human habitation dates back to the Bronze Age and the Helladic period, as demonstrated by the ceramics found there.



Natural areas

  • Parks and gardens

    The main natural area is the Villa Comunale Giuseppe Mazzini, a public park in the historic centre built in the 19th century and listed as a National Monument. To confirm this, in 1927, a decree of constraint was issued for the "panoramic scenes that can be enjoyed from that place". Inside, the villa, from whose balcony one can admire the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Strait of Messina, the Aeolian Islands, Bagnara Calabra and Scilla, has tall trees, cobblestone paths, a small fountain and several monumental marble busts.

    Other natural areas are the 'Parco della Civiltà Contadina', created in the early 1990s in the San Giorgio district with the installation of numerous palm trees covering an area of 14,000 m², and the 'Parco Luigi Parpagliolo', in the historic centre and renovated and furnished in 2012 with a bar, playgrounds and trees.

    Trails and hiking

    "Palmi has a God on its side, Mount Sant'Elia, whose pine-covered summit offers one of the most fascinating views in the world".

    (Leonida Repaci)

    The town of Palmi is a favourite destination for hiking or trekking. There are several routes in the area, on Mount Sant'Elia and on the cliffs that slope down towards small beaches. There are mainly two routes on Sant'Elia, which are followed by hikers. One on the slopes of the mountain, the 'sentiero del Tracciolino', and one on the top of the mountain.

     The 'Tracciolino path', whose route is located halfway up the north-eastern side of the mountain, is part of the nature trails of Calabria, and with its route overlooking the sea of the Costa Viola, is an attraction for tourists.

    Other trails in the town are the ' Rovaglioso path', which leads from the Palmi Scalo terracing to the small Rovaglioso beach, overcoming the difference in height between the two areas by means of a series of hairpin bends with stone paving and dirt roads, surrounded by olive groves and prickly pear plants; the 'via del sale', an ancient path that led from Marina di Palmi to the Cittadella district, with a route of natural and historical interest immersed in olive groves, which makes it possible to cross the 'valle degli opifici' (valley of factories) where there are remains of ancient factories from past centuries. These include a factory dating from 1599, the oldest in Calabria.

    On the other hand, the stretch of coast between Palmi and Bagnara Calabra, which can only be reached by sea and is the destination of boat trips, can be considered a "marine path". The landscapes are still as evocative as when they were described by Homer.



The most widespread religion is Roman Catholicism. Approximately 96% of the population is baptised with this denomination. The municipality is part of the diocese of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi, of which it hosts the diocesan curia offices and the legal seat, and of the homonymous vicariate. The municipal territory is currently divided into five parishes: Maria Santissima del Rosario, Maria Santissima del Soccorso, San Fantino, San Nicola bishop and Santa Famiglia.

The municipal statute recognises St Nicholas of Bari as the patron saint of the city 'to safeguard the Christian roots of its community'. In addition, a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of 12 September 1733 elected Mary Most Holy of the Holy Letter as the city's patron saint, and popular devotion over the centuries has elevated St Roch to the title of co-patron and protector.

The town's deep-rooted Catholic culture is also evidenced by the centuries-old presence of four lay confraternities dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii and the Holy Letter, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Immaculate Conception and Saint Roch and the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Succour, and a number of religious convents for men (Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Order of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, Little Brothers of Jesus) and women (Missionary Sisters of the Catechism, Repairing Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts).

Moreover, before the foundation of Palmi, in the area of the ancient Tauriana, former bishop's seat, and on Mount Aulinas, personalities venerated as saints by the Catholic Church were born or lived. These figures are Saint Fantino the Elder, Saint Fantino the Younger, Saint Elias the Younger and Saint Filarete.

Traditions and folklore

Many ancient traditions have been preserved and passed down through the centuries in Palmi.

These include the Varia di Palmi (included in the UNESCO list of oral and intangible heritage of humanity), the festival of San Rocco with the 'cortege of the barbed wire', the processions by sea for the Madonna dell'Alto Mare, on horseback for San Fantino or along ancient mountain paths for Sant'Elia.

The Varia di Palmi is a huge sacred float representing the universe and the assumption into heaven of the Virgin Mary. On top of the 16-metre high float, which is carried on the shoulders of 200 bearers (mbuttaturi), there are human figures representing the Madonna (called 'Animella'), the Father, the Apostles and the angels.

Other important moments of faith and tradition in the event are the procession of the painting of Maria Santissima della Lettera and the reliquary of the Sacred Hair, and the popular election of the Animella.

The 2013 edition, the year in which the event was inscribed among the UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, was attended by around 180,000 spectators.

There are also many traditions surrounding the feast of San Rocco. The main one is the "parade of the Thorns", made up of believers who, throughout the procession of the statue of the saint, wear a bare-chested cloak of thorns (called Spalas) or a crown of thorns, in memory of the one "worn" by Jesus on the Cross, as a votive offering. Another form of votive offering consists of placing at the feet of the statue waxes depicting organs and parts of the human body that testify to serious illnesses overcome or surgical operations performed. The procession of San Rocco is also characterised by the length of the route (over 7 km), its duration (about four and a half hours) and the large number of pilgrims who take part in it, about 20,000.

Below is a complete list of the secular religious festivities held in the town centre:

Feast of the Holy Crucifix (17th century), on 3 May;

Feast of St Anthony of Padua (19th century), 13 June;

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (17th century), 16 July;

Feast of Our Lady of Succour (16th century), on 5th August;
Feast of St Roch and 'procession of the barbed wire' (16th century), on 16th August;
Feast of Mary Most Holy of the Letter and the Vary of Palmi (16th century), on the last Sunday in August, every other year
Feast of St Nicholas, on 6 December;
Feast of Mary Most Holy Immaculate (17th century), on 8 December.

The following religious festivities are celebrated in the hamlets:

Feast of Saint Elias (19th century), on 20th July on the mountain of the same name;
Feast of St Fantino (6th century, but restored in the 21st century), on 24 July in Taureana di Palmi with a horse procession with horsemen in period costumes;
Feast of Mary Most Holy of the High Sea (sixth century), on the last Sunday of July in Taureana di Palmi, with a sea transport of the effigy of the Virgin from Pietrenere to the Scoglio dell'Ulivo;
Feast of Mary Most Holy of the Mountain (20th century), on 2 September on Monte Sant'Elia.



  • The city's main museum is the 'Leonida Repaci' House of Culture complex. Its construction began in 1968, at the behest of the Municipality of Palmi and the Ministry of Public Works. The building, inaugurated on 17 January 1982, has a surface area of over 2,000 m² and inside it houses, in addition to the Municipal Library and the State Archives, the following sections:
  • Leonida and Albertina Repaci Art Gallery, which houses works by masters of painting such as Édouard Manet, Tintoretto, Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio De Chirico, Renato Guttuso etc., donated by Leonida Repaci and his wife Albertina to the city. The collection is one of the most important modern and contemporary art galleries in Southern Italy;
  • Raffaele Corso Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, which collects objects of everyday life, faith and popular folklore from Calabria and is the most important of its kind in southern Italy;
  • Francesco Cilea and Nicola Antonio Manfroce Music Museum, which houses numerous documents of the two composers (scores, manuscripts, sketches and drafts), memorabilia of Vincenzo Bellini, portraits of Gioachino Rossini and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, photographs with dedications by Giacomo Puccini and Arturo Toscanini;
  • Antiquarium Nicola De Rosa, containing materials from ancient Tauriana and objects found on the seabed along the Costa Viola, including capitals, urns, anchors, coins, marble statuettes, amphorae and a bust of Emperor Hadrian;
  • Gipsoteca Michele Guerrisi, which houses plaster casts of works by the sculptor Michele Guerrisi and several watercolours by him, donated by his wife. In addition, the gallery of plaster casts displays sculptures by Francesco Jerace and Alessandro Monteleone.


Little or nothing remains of the art of the town in past centuries, as the various earthquakes that have occurred over time have always destroyed all architectural and artistic forms. Therefore, the only works of artistic value from the past that have survived to the present day are a few religious statues kept in the churches and rescued from the rubble, as they were venerated by the local population even then. Among these, the main work is undoubtedly a valuable 17th-century wooden crucifix, kept in the church of the same name and probably made by Fra' Umile da Petralia. The work is mentioned in Alfonso Frangipane's Inventory of Art Objects of Italy. The statues of the Madonna del Soccorso and the Madonna del Carmine, made by De Lorenzo and kept in the churches of the same name, date from the 18th century. Also from the 18th century is a painting, with a silver manta, of the Madonna of the Sacred Letter, which is located in the Co-cathedral. The statue of San Rocco dates back to the 17th century, although its author is still unknown.

The historical importance of Palmi in the artistic field is testified, in the XIX century, by a municipal drawing school active since 1888 by the painter Domenico Augimeri, who created many works of art kept in various places in Calabria, including Catanzaro, Cittanova and Reggio Calabria. His painting of St Joseph with Child is kept in Palmi. The importance of the city in the artistic field was confirmed in the 20th century by the artist Michele Guerrisi, who received his artistic training in Palmi and created some of the city's most important monuments, and by the establishment of an art school, a gallery of plaster casts and a picture gallery.


Palmi's gastronomy is rooted in the Mediterranean tradition, but also offers spicy and sweet and sour notes typical of Spanish cuisine. Typical first courses include 'pasta china', a timbale of pasta cooked in the oven and served with eggs, salami, meat sauce and tomato, and 'stroncatura', a pasta made from durum wheat and wholemeal flour. The latter can be cooked 'alla parmisana', i.e. pan-fried with garlic, anchovies, hot chilli pepper, breadcrumbs and extra virgin olive oil, or served with sardines, swordfish or cuttlefish.

The stroncatura was chosen to represent Palmi and Calabria at the Rai pavilion at Expo 2015.

Main courses include stockfish prepared in a variety of recipes, aubergine or courgette parmigiana, anchovy pie and swordfish. The latter can be cooked 'alla ghiotta', that is stuffed with breadcrumbs, capers, olives, black pepper and then steamed or seasoned with different sauces, or cooked 'in salmoriglio', that is grilled and seasoned with salmoriglio, a sauce of Spanish origin made with oil, lemon, garlic, salt, black pepper, parsley and oregano.

Among the typical local biscuits is 'nzuddu, made with milk, honey and almonds and sold at the stalls of the San Rocco fair. Sweets include zeppole at Christmas, pignolata and nacatole at Carnival and cuddhureddi at Easter.

Cuddhureddi are sweets made from wheat flour and sugar, with the peculiarity of having hard-boiled eggs inserted (in odd numbers) as a 'sign of rebirth'.


Palmi is one of the main tourist destinations in the metropolitan city of Reggio Calabria and in Calabria.

In 2013, the Rovaglioso beach was recognised by Legambiente as the most beautiful beach in Calabria and among the first 17 beaches in Italy.

The beaches of Lido di Palmi, on the other hand, have been a renowned tourist destination for many years due to the beauty of the sea and the quality of the beach services. In 2014, they were awarded 3 "sails" by the Guida Blu (Blue Guide), again by Legambiente, putting the city in second place with Tropea on the entire southern Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, and in 2020, for the fourth consecutive time, they were awarded the Green Flag for beaches.

photo below:

The Tonnara di Palmi waterfront and marina.


source :

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