Moving South down the coast, you come to Scilla, a small fishing town famous from Greek mythology (and Homer’s Odyssey) as Scylla, the sea monster. Scylla stood next to another monster Charybis in a narrow strait (the Straits of Messina). The two sides of the strait were within an arrow’s range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice versa. From Scilla you can get excellent views of the Sicilian coast – just 4 miles away.
Scilla is also famous for swordfish fishing with spectacular boats of which there are [apparently] less than 10 left. The crow’s nest was positioned at this dizzy height in order to spot swordfish swimming in the sea below whilst the runway allowed another fisherman to be ready to harpoon the fish as his mate spotted them from above.
Swordfish boat with Scilla in background. Boat is as high as it is long.
Scilla’s coastline is split in two by a short tunnel through the cliffs.
The southern part (Marina Grande) is more commercial with beach clubs, restaurants and soft sandy beaches whilst the more northern part (Chianalea) is more of a port area with a rocky harbour, fishing boats and a little bit more atmospheric. We stayed in Chianalea which was very quiet (in 2013) but the southern section is so close, it’s easy to walk to the more bustling part of town.
Further away from the coast is the main town of Scilla. It’s a typical Italian town with a few shops but is worth walking up to see the fishmongers who you’ll spot very quickly by the ‘swords’ they display outside the shop. Not everyone’s cup of tea but then again it’s not often you see this end of a swordfish.
It was this big! Swordfish head outside a fishmonger in Scilla town.
There’s also the Castello di Ruffo up on the cliff between Chianalea and the Marina Grande. Built/restored by the Ruffo family in the 16th century, there have been various buildings here since 900AD. The castle walls also contain the lighthouse.
Castello di Ruffo from Chianalea