In their haste to reach Calabria’s beaches, many travelers mistakenly overlook the region’s largest city, Reggio. This handsome and little-touristed place of around 200,000 inhabitants is built on slopes overlooking the Strait of Messina. Founded by the Greeks around 730 B.C., it later became an important center of Byzantine culture until being occupied by the Arabs in the 10th century. Spanish rule ended with Napoleon’s invasion in 1806. The city thrived during the late 18th century, when the Lungomare Falcomatà, “the most beautiful kilometer of Italy,” a long seaside promenade, was constructed. On a visit in 1847, the English artist and writer Edward Lear wrote: “Reggio is indeed one vast garden, and doubtless one of the loveliest spots to be seen on earth. A half-ruined castle, beautiful in colour and picturesque in form, overlooks all the long city, the wide straits and snow-topped Mongibello (Mount Etna) beyond.”
An earthquake destroyed large areas of Reggio in 1908, and much of it was rebuilt in the art nouveau style. Lining the Corso Garibaldi, the principal thoroughfare, these elegant buildings give the city its singular charm.
Alas, Reggio does not have a hotel of a standard to merit a Hideaway Report recommendation, but the Hotel Medinblu provides a friendly, comfortable and well-located base from which to explore. Booking a Superior Room is advised. An excellent breakfast is served on a rooftop terrace with a dramatic view of the Strait of Messina.