Welcome to Gerace...
the perfectly preserved medieval town
Gerace is located in the province of Reggio Calabria on top of a cliff, with stunning views of the Ionian sea and the mountains that surround it. Because of its location it is only accessible by driving up a steep, winding mountain road. The scenic drive is only the beginning of the journey. With each kilometer you ascend up the mountain, you will see the coastline shrink away as you drive past olive groves, palm trees, wild cactuses and jasmine flowers. Each twist and bend in the road will leave you feeling like you are being transported into a beautiful painting. Make sure the car windows are rolled down and notice how the scent of the air changes from salty sea to sweet flowers and then crisp mountain once you've reached the highest point and your destination, beautiful Gerace.
Park your car and spend the afternoon wandering the cobblestone alleyways. Many visitors express that Gerace is a place that has you feeling like you've stepped back in time. Most of the town and architecture has remained in tact so it's no wonder Gerace is regarded as one of the best preserved medieval villages in Italy.
Here you will find remnants of several centuries of history. A Norman castle, ancient churches, renaissance palaces and a tangle of streets formed by cobblestone lane ways all within the original fortress walls of this beautiful medieval town.
The name of the town originates from the Greek lerax (Ιέραξ) meaning Sparrowhawk. According to a legend, the inhabitants who once lived on the coast, were under attack by Saracen invaders in 915 CE, and needed a safe place to hide. They were led by the sparrowhawk all the way up to the top of the mountain and here they founded their new home Gerace. Over the centuries to come Gerace fell under the control of the Byzantines, the Saracens, the Normans and the Angevins and remnants of these civilizations is still visible today.
The majestic cathedral of Gerace built in the Byzantine-Norman style is a great example of architecture that still stands today.
The cliff side view is breathtaking. You can see all the way down to the Jasmine Coast where the sky touches the sea and shades of blue become one.
Peaceful is a great word to describe Gerace. It's so easy to lose track of time wandering the narrow alleyways and then stopping at a cafe in the piazza to taste Gerace's famous granita, an Italian fruit flavoured ice slush.
Remarkably Gerace has been able to preserve much of its ancient artistic and cultural heritage even after more than 2500 years. Here you will find many artisans working in original workshops, on handicrafts that were taught and passed down through the centuries. These talented artisans are happy to open up their workshops and introduce you to their traditional style of working with ceramics, iron, wood and hand weaving.
EAT For the best granita you must visit Bar del Tocco located in the main piazza.
SHOP Gerace is filled with artisan workshops. Visit Laboratorio Creazioni Artistiche (as pictured above) where you can find beautiful hand crafted souvenirs.
1. Gerace was once home to 128 churches.
2. Walking tours are a breeze! The entire town is only 24 sq km.
3. Gerace sits atop a 500m vertical cliff formed of conglomerate sea fossils from 60 million years ago.
4. Archaeological findings have proven that the area was in fact inhabited since the Neolithic Age.
5. Gerace has been home to many philosophers, artists, poets and writers over the centuries. Plaques have been placed at the entrances of their original homes to commemorate them.
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By: Michelle Pedullà