Gerace, a medieval village, protected on a cliff, rich in history and culture, represents an important point for Calabrian tourism. The name Gerace derives from a Greek word meaning ‘sparrowhawk’; in fact, according to legend, a sparrowhawk indicated the exact place where to build the village, which must have been a place away from Saracen attacks by the sea. Born in the 7th century, in the middle of the Byzantine period, he experienced several dominations, each of which left their own mark. Are you curious? Then, read our post now: Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! Stay with us and make the best of the Boot country! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? LOOKING FOR A HOTEL IN CALABRIA? Check our suggestions! Click here!
A little about Gerace
The urban arrangement is of a medieval mold, divided into three main nuclei: the upper town, the larger village and the small village. The upper city is dominated by the majesty of the Cathedral, the result of several architectural styles, and is the largest in Calabria.
Nowadays, it is a lively city, a destination for tourists and scholars, home to several cultural activities. In testimony to its glorious past, we find, in fact, the majestic Cathedral of the 11th and 12th centuries, the Byzantine church of St. John Chrysostom, the church of St. Francis Assisi, from the Suebi era, the numerous Baroque churches (about twenty), the palaces and its castle. GERACE IS PART OF THE ASSOCIATION OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN ITALY, CHECK HERE!
Gerace and its surroundings have the signs of an urbanization that has a distant origin in time. A little distant from the current housing center, it is possible, in fact, to visit the remains of a necropolis that dates back to different eras and retains traces of three distinct periods. They have been unveiled in the archeological area of the ceramics of the 9th century BC (recognizable by the particular characteristic of thick mass), unworthy and imported trousseaus dating back to the 7th century BC and products of Greek and Italiote manufactures dating from the 7th century BC.
1) Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! VISIT PARCO NAZIONALE DELL’ASPROMONTE
The city that still preserves a medieval setting and fascination today is within the Parco Nazionale dell’Aspromonte (Aspromonte National Park). The urban center, in particular the old village, is rich in churches, period palaces and compartments, sometimes housing, sometimes shops, excavated directly in the rock. There you can admire the castle, the cathedral, the church of St Francis, a series of small churches, probably of Byzantine origin, in addition to the numerous civil constructions from various eras and architectural styles.
2) Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! VISIT THE CASTLE
The castle, located in Baglio and founded by the Byzantines, but reviewed by the Normans, dates back to a time of the High Middle Ages (10th century), revisited after that with restorations by the Byzantines and Normans and largely relocated in successive centuries. With the arrival of the Normans, it was restructured and fortified. In successive centuries, it suffered devastation from some catastrophic earthquakes. Of these, a large tower and few walls remain, in parts extracted from the rock, in part rising at the peak above the surrounding openings.
Originally, it was equipped with systems for channeling meteoric waters, a large well, a movable bridge over its eastern side, a large arsenal, an inner courtyard, from which some colonnade residues remain, and other places for more varied functions. The current structures are Aragonese; unfortunately, from this monument few residues are preserved, such as the mass pillars of the movable bridge, the entrance body with the emblem, the remains of a powerful circular keep and residues from other large environments.
3) Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! VISIT BAGLIO
To get a glimpse of the city and understand how fascinating the panorama is, you must reach Baglio, the name with which the inhabitants call the space before the city’s Castle: from here you can admire a natural landscape of enchanting beauty, extraordinary for the colors and for varieties of orthographic forms. Traditional refuge for the population in case of danger. At the end of the space, the remains of the old Norman castle rise, dating back to the 11th century, have also been relocated.
4) Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! VISIT THE NORMAN CATHEDRAL
Leaving the Castle behind, it is advisable to head towards the Norman Cathedral, where it is possible to visit the prison of the five martyrs of Gerace, the portal of Lucifer and not far from the municipal palace rich in marble ornaments.
The upper city is dominated by the majesty of the Cathedral, the result of several architectural styles, the largest in all of Calabria. The building, which dates from 1080 to 1120, preserves twenty-six Roman columns from the 4th-3rd centuries in the crypt. Inside, fascinating and powerful, the Latin cross is divided into three naves. Thanks to the numerous restorations carried out after the Second World War, today it is possible to admire all its fascination. Columns and capitals, according to scholars, come from the ruins of the Locri, in Magna Graecia.
5) Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! VISIT THE PIAZZA DELLE TRE CHIESE
After descending along Via Catello, you reach the Piazza delle Tre Chiese (Square of the Three Churches), that is, the Church of the Sacred Heart (Baroque), the Church of San Giovannello (“Little St John”, Byzantine) and above all the Church of St Francis Assisi (Gothic style, but with numerous Arab-Norman and Sicilian influences).
The Church of Saint Francis
It is one of the most important structures of the begging orders of southern Italy, and is dated between the end of the 13th century (as it is due to the royal donation by Carlos II, in 1294) and the first years of the 14th century. The construction, of considerable dimensions, but in a truly simple way, is closely linked to artistic experiences, not only Franciscan but mainly Angevine, which highlight the need to create simple ecclesiastical architectures and, therefore, revealing the need, on the part of the Catholic Church, to return to the integrity of the gospel message.
Noteworthy is the wonderful baroque altar inlaid with marble, dated to the sixties of the 17th century and made by orders of the friar Bonaventura Perna. The altar recovers themes and forms linked to the Neapolitan baroque that reproduce either phytomorphic elements or zoomorphic and landscape forms. The structure opens on the current Square of the Three Churches, carried out with the destruction of an existing vegetable garden over the area of the former monastery of St John Chrysostom, and is accessible through a grand portal in triple archivolt, decorated with lozenges and phytomorphic elements, presumably linked to Sicilian stores with Arab influences.
The church of San Giovannello
The small stone and brick church, in a single nave, was built around the 10th century and was consecrated on November 5, 1991 as the Pan-Italic Orthodox Shrine of the Sacred Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy, by Metropolitan Ghenadios. Throughout its long history, it has preserved its simple and original architecture that presents itself with a bell-shaped roof, a sail belfry over the cusp on the western side and the main entrance on its south side. On its façades, seven arched side windows open, allowing adequate lighting. Inside, Diaconincón and Prothesis are found, next to the projecting apse, traces of paintings and a cistern for collecting rainwater.
The Church of the Sacred Heart
The building is from the 18th century with a Baroque style facade and portal and a protruding dome, damaged by the 1783 earthquake, having been rebuilt in 1851 thanks to the intervention of the Brotherhood of the Sacred Heart.
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6) Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! DISCOVER THE HISTORICAL CENTER
The characteristic historic center of Gerace is the particularity that captures the visitor’s attention. The city’s rich art history is read along its small squares, in its alleys, on the walls of its houses, by its historic palaces and by the numerous monumental churches built during its long history.
The sumptuous palaces that embellish it are often equipped with stone portals worked by local sculptors and, only being the result of frequent restorations in the 19th century, after the damage caused to the city by the 1783 earthquake. Volumetries typical of a medieval phase (13th to 15th century) are often repeated, it is not uncommon to find, in fact, underneath modern plasterwork, traces of a window divided into two parts, sharp-curved arches and flattened windows that reveal a relevant building activity as early as the 12th century.
In the interior of the alleys, there are numerous arches in ‘volta a Giustini’, which are Gerace’s distinctive landmark. These are arches made with lime, whose supports consisted of interwoven pipes, using the same technique with which giustini are made, that is, baskets constructed with an original technique typical of the place. The technique consisted of constructing the arch by covering with lime a structure of interwoven pipes, in the same way with which the typical baskets, called ‘giustini’, are interwoven. Of the twelve gates that originally opened on the walls of the country’s historical core, only four survived from it: Porta dei Vescovi or Meridiana, near the Cathedral, Porta Santa Lucia, Porta Maggiore and Porta del Sole.
Piazza del Tocco
Of particular importance is the public space represented by Piazza del Tocco, which overlooks some noble palaces, among which Cacheopulo Palace, Migliaccio Palace and Macrì Palace, which are also among the most important palaces in Gerace.
The pulsating heart of the city since ancient times is undoubtedly the Piazza del Tocco, a true and peculiar room, where the inhabitants usually meet in their free time to benefit from the open air. According to the etymology of the term that marks the name of the square (‘tocco’ would derive from the Greek ‘thókos’, which means seat, assembly), the space has always been a meeting place for the city. According to others, instead, the term ‘tocco’ would mean ‘a magistrate’s hat’ and, having this derivation, Piazza del Tocco would mean Square of Justice. Two steps away from the square it is possible to admire the City Palace, a time where the feudarians of the area lived.
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Map with the attractions of the Historic Center
Are you going to stay in Gerace?
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Where to stay in Gerace? Palazzo Sant’Anna
- Star Rating: 9,2 (Fantastic!)
- Average coast: US$ 130 (*)
- Location: the accommodation is 44 km from Scilla and 33 km from Gioia Tauro
- Address: 1 Via San Anna, 89040 Gerace, Itália
- Services: air-conditioned rooms, free wifi, private bathroom, on-site parking and transfer services.
- Breakfast: Yes
- (*) the value is an average of the daily rate for two people; values may vary by season, without prior notice.
Where to eat in Gerace? A Squella
If you are looking for a cozy place with good food in Gerace, A Squella is ideal!
- Address: Via della Resistenza, 8, 89040 Gerace RC
- Site: https://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g1054626-d5002623-Reviews-Asquella-Gerace_Province_of_Reggio_Calabria_Calabria.html
- Opening hours: 12:00 – 14h:30 e 19h30 – 22h30
- Telephone: +39 0964 356086
A little more about Gerace and its curiosities
Gerace, a graceful city not far from the capital of Calabria, worthy of interest for its monumental and scenic beauty. It is characterized by the buildings excavated from the rock with historical-artistic architectures of great value; for its beauty, it has been inserted among the most beautiful villages in Italy. Once again, it is the story that marks the name: Gerace derives from the Greek ‘lerax’ which means ‘sparrowhawk’.
The Normans were in favor of its political growth in the medieval period, but it needs to enter the village, cross the thousand alleys or stay in the small squares to acquire uniqueness. A joyful free time in Italy, among the first on the peninsula, Gerace has repeatedly defended his own autonomy in the past centuries by paying the price of numerous battles against Turkish and Norman invaders.
The first thing you notice when you arrive in Gerace (one of the most beautiful villages in Calabria) is its elegance. Gerace is a simple and elegant Calabria. A beautiful Calabria, of a beauty that extends to believe that it is talking about Locride, in the extinct province of Reggio Calabria. And that of Gerace, and of this Calabria, is an elegance that almost no one else reports.
Watch this video about Gerace and be enchanted!
How to get to Gerace?
1) How to get to Gerace? BY AIRPLANE
Reggio Calabria Airport, Lamezia Terme International Airport (about 100 km from both airports) and from there with a car.
Also read our posts about Airports in Italy:
- HOW TO GO FROM THE ROME AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF ROME?
- HOW TO GO FROM THE MALPENSA AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF MILANO?
- HOW TO GO FROM VENICE AIRPORT TO VENICE CENTER
2) How to get to Gerace? BY TRAIN
Locri Station (8 km), RC rail link with the major Italian cities and from there with a taxi or car. READ THE POST HOW TO GET TO CALABRIA TO LEARN MORE DETAILS!
Did you know that Trenitalia is the main Italian company dedicated to the management of railway transport? Find out here “What is the difference between trains in Italy?”. Buy your ticket online in advance and save a lot, read the Post “How to buy a train ticket in Italy?”. Find out more about Italy by visiting my other Blog, Your Travel to Italy!
3) How to get to Gerace? BY BUS
Direct lines from Rome and Milan stopping at Locri (8 km), Saja self-service: tel. (0039) 0965/812335 and from there with a car or taxi.
4) How to get to Gerace? BY CAR
A3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria, exit Rosarno – towards the road “Ionian-Tyrrhenian” Marina di Gioiosa Ionica – Siderno – Locri – Gerace-Taurianova Cittanova – Zomaro towards Locri – Gerace highway – Ionian state road 106 Taranto – Reggio Calabria – Locri – Gerace Read also on my other Blog TRAVELING BY CAR IN ITALY: EXAMPLES OF TOURS
Traveling by car in Italy
How about if I give you a rental car option? Are you ready for it? If you are renting a car be sure to read our posts in the section Driving in Italy on the blog Your Travel to Italy. In addition to car itinerary tips, we have everything about signage, tolls, roads and many more tips.
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Let’s visit Gerace, in Calabria! Gerace is very flat in the eyes of those who visit it; each angle of walk is a view of elegance and history. It is only when you reach the top, in the highest part of the village of Gerace, and find yourself at the foot of the castles, it is only then that the elegance of Gerace disappears a little, and makes the difficult history of Calabria evident. The sentence to a certain destruction, whether it is the work of time, earthquakes or men, it does not matter, what remains are always ruins.
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