logoquadrato-calabriadreamin qu


A holiday to live in colour


What to see in Italy: Mount Sant'Elia di Palmi, the balcony of the Tyrrhenian Sea and one of the most beautifu

2021-02-28 21:28

calabria dreamin'

Costa Viola, palmi, what to see in calabria, marinella of palms, monte sant'elia,

What to see in Italy: Mount Sant'Elia di Palmi, the balcony of the Tyrrhenian Sea and one of the most beautiful panoramas in the world

Mount Sant'Elia is located in the municipality of Palmi and is known as the 'balcony on the Tyrrhenian Sea'.

CWhat to see in Italy: Mount Sant'Elia of Palmi, the balcony of the Tyrrhenian Sea and one of the most beautiful panoramas in the world

Il monte Sant'Elia si trova nel comune di Palmi, in provincia di

Reggio Calabria. Coastal ridge of the Aspromonte massif, it is known as the 'balcony on the Tyrrhenian Sea'. The mountain, on which there are also some residential buildings, is also one of the three official population centres of Palmi, according to Istat data.

Formerly called Aulinas, also Salinas or Aulino, probably because in the 9th century the Byzantine monk Elias the Younger from Enna founded a coenoby near the mountain, giving it the name 'le Saline'. St Elias the Younger, a native of Enna, lived in the 19th century AD. His life, written by one of his disciples, says that he was called John and belonged to the noble family of the Rachites. Kidnapped by the Saracens at a young age and taken to Africa, after various vicissitudes he was able to visit the Holy Places, from Jerusalem, where he received the monastic habit on Mount Sinai in the famous monastery of St Catherine, which was already very famous at the time. He went as far as Alexandria, but then, to escape the fame and veneration that were already growing around him, he headed for Persia, where he wanted to venerate the places of the three holy children put in the furnace by the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar. But when he reached Antioch, he received a vision telling him to return to his homeland and saw the mountain of Calabria where he was to found a monastery.

The mountain was named after him and, at a later date, thanks to the gratitude of Emperor Leo IV, the great Imperial Monastery was built not far from the Monastery of the Saline, near the "Piani della Corona" in the territory of Seminara, also known as the "Monastero Imperiale" or "della Corona".

The discovery of the ruins of the Imperial Monastery of Sant'Elia is due to research carried out by the Archaeological Cooperative C.A.S.T. of Bari with the scientific advice of Prof. Carofiglio. The valuable research is contained in the study that has remained unpublished to this day, entitled 'Ethnoarchaeology of a maritime eparchy in southern Calabria' dated 1991.

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

Leonida Repaci


Physical geography

Mount Sant'Elia occupies the southern end of the municipality of Palmi, overlooking the town centre. At 579 metres above sea level, the mountain is the highest point in the municipality and is the natural southern boundary of the Gioia Tauro Plain. Moreover, because of its conformation, it is often described as an 'arm towards the west' of the Aspromonte, which slopes rapidly towards the Tyrrhenian Sea through a system of cliffs, small beaches and reefs. In fact, in the stretch of sea in front of Mount Sant'Elia and included in the Costa Viola, there are the Marinella bay, the Sirens' cave, the Arcudace cave, the Perciata cave and the Pietra Galera rock.

The vegetation of the mountain consists mainly of maritime pines and chestnut trees and its territory is included in the list of Special Protection Areas and Sites of Community Interest of the Calabria Region.

photo below:

View of the "three crosses" on the top of the mountain.
Church of sant'elia prophet


Origins of the name

The name of the mountain, before the 10th century, was Mount Salinas. The name derived from the toponym given to the current plain of Palmi, namely Turma delle Saline.

The Turma delle Saline was a subdivision, at that time, of the subject of Calabria.

Starting in the 17th century, the name Salinas was joined by that of Mount Aulinas. In fact, it was in 1657 that the toponym appeared for the first time, due to an erroneous transcription.

Subsequently, the mountain was named after Elia di Enna because of the presence of the saint on the mountain in the 9th century.

Monuments and places of interest


Religious architecture

The only place of worship on the mountain is the Church of Sant'Elias (1958), a modern piece of architecture located on the summit and built in the area where, since 884, various places of worship with adjoining convents were built, including a church built by Sant'Elia lo Juniore. Inside are statues of the Madonna of the Mountain and Saint Elias the Prophet.

  • Viewpoints

"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 on the mountain, thanks to its conformation. The main viewpoint is the Rocco Isola - Pelorosso, located on the top of the mountain, consisting of a series of balconies made with railings and stairs above the various ridges of the mountain. From these balconies it is possible to admire the entire Tyrrhenian coast from Capo Vaticano to the Strait of Messina, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands, the volcano Etna and the whole town of Palmi. On the top of the belvedere, among other things, there are three white crosses, in memory of Mount Calvary where Jesus was crucified.


Natural areas


Trails and hiking
 Monte Sant'Elia is a popular destination for hiking and trekking. The two main routes taken by hikers are one on the slopes of the mountain, the 'Sentiero del Tracciolino', and one on its summit. The 'Tracciolino path', whose route is halfway up the north-eastern side of the mountain, is included in the nature trails of Calabria and, with its route overlooking the sea of the Costa Viola, is an attraction for tourists.

  • Protected areas

Among the natural areas, the mountain falls largely within two protected areas of the Calabria Region, namely the Special Protection Zone called "Costa Viola" and the Site of Community Interest called "Costa Viola and Sant'Elia".

Hiking on the mountain top

The site of Community interest, called "Costa Viola and Sant'Elia", is the stretch of coastline between the towns of Scilla and Palmi. The slopes of the coast are formed by intrusive and metamorphic rocks, covered by deposits of sedimentary rocks and loose sediments of coastal marine environment and continental sandy-conglomerate. Along the steep slopes, terraces are used to cultivate the fine grapes of gaglioppo, malvasia and zibibbo. In the past, the vineyards were reached by farmers along paths or even by boats, which were also used to transport the grapes during the grape harvest. The coastal cliffs, sometimes forming high crags, are rich in species such as dianthus rupicola. There are holm oak woods, thermo-Mediterranean and pre-steppe shrubs and chasmophytic vegetation typical of the cliffs.

The Special Protection Area called "Costa Viola", which includes, as mentioned, a large part of the mountain, is one of the most important European areas for the spring migration of falconiformes and other large sailors along the coast. The SPA extends from the Marina di Palmi towards the strait. These areas also include mountainous sites with flat morphologies where ephemeral wetland formations are present.

Fauna species in the area include the sylvia undata, golden eagle, black kite, some hawk species, collared flycatcher, little shrike and eagle owl.

photo below:

The Tracciolino trail



The Legend of the Devil's Stone

An ancient Calabrian-Sicilian legend tells of St Elias' victorious struggle with the devil, which was also recalled by Palmese philosopher Domenico Antonio Cardone. "The 'Legend of Mount St Elias' is carved into the monument erected to the philosopher on the summit of the mountain.

The story is as follows: "On the edge of the highest part of this mountain, not far away, to the west, from the site where there is a small wall with three crosses raised to the top as a calvary, called the Crosses of St. Elias, there is still a ruin, the remains of a few houses, and is close to a flattened granite boulder, which has imprints almost like knees or fists. From this we derive the fabulous tradition that St. Elias Iunior, in building the convent, was annoyed and tempted to anger by the devil, by destroying during the night, what was built during the day, but that, when the saint had surprised him, he threw it far away, in the sea below, causing it to strike violently against this rock where the said footprints remained. And with greater force than was used by the angry Jupiter with his powerful thunderbolt, to overthrow and precipitate Phaeton, disobedient and incautious son of the Sun, when he saw that he was driving his parent's chariot too close to the Earth, with the danger of setting it on fire! Others add that the devil, seeing himself vanquished by the sanctity of the Basilian monk, came back to tempt him by proposing that he would no longer bother him, provided that he allowed him to form a place of hell at the point where the Saint (believed to be a weak hermit) would throw the large stick on which he was leaning. But St. Elijah miraculously threw his stick at the extreme limit of the visible sea, that is to say at the place of Stromboli; where the devil then, all anger and fire, was forced to settle, repeatedly erupting lava, smoke, and shaking the whole region around, with frequent earthquakes and sinister rumblings. An old legend relates that these were the cries of the soul of Charles Martel, condemned to those abysses, and that, in addition to this, in the Middle Ages, crusader warriors passing through it on the nearby sea, sailing towards the Holy Land, claimed to hear the cries of the souls in Purgatory, who begged them to pray for them".

(A. De Salvo, 1939. 'Palmi dal suo Sant'Elia').

Photo below:

The Devil's Stone



"In the monastery of Saint Elias on Mount Aulina near Palmi in Calabria, Saint Filarete, a monk, who was very devoted to prayer."

(Roman Martyrology, at 6 April).

On the summit of the mountain, in the first millennium of the Christian era, lived personalities venerated as saints by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. These figures are St Elias the Younger and St Filarete.

Traditions and folklore

Feast of Saint Elijah the Prophet, held annually on 20 July with a procession that retraces ancient paths;
Feast of Our Lady of the Mountain, celebrated annually on 8 September, with a procession and final torchlight procession.
 photo below

Torchlight procession at the return of the procession of the Madonna della Montagna

  • Affaccio del monte Sant'elia(foto Gianluca Benigno)



Insight articles


  • testo è disponibile secondo la licenza Creative Commons Attribuzione-Condividi allo stesso modo; possono applicarsi condizioni ulteriori. Vedi le condizioni d'uso per i dettagli.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.