Italian little italies: Chianalea di Scilla, Calabria
- WTI Magazine #91 May 14, 2017
The oldest district of Scilla is Chianalea, which takes its name from “piano della galea” (galley deck), but it is also called Acquagrande or Canalea, because the little houses built directly on the rocks are separated one from the other by small alleys, like channels, which descend directly into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
THE SEA AND THE FISHERMEN’S HOUSES
Scilla lies on the coast of Calabria between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the slopes of Aspromonte. Chinalea is the most interesting district: a fisherman’s village as yet not embalmed for the sake of tourists, but still making a living from fishing. If you walk through the charming little alleyways, you can easily meet the fishermen outside their homes making fishing nets, repairing their boats or preparing to leave to face another day at sea.The waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea almost penetrate the homes which continually face the force of the water; at night the silence amplifies the impressive sound of the sea which provides the musical background to life in Chianalea.
On the “Scaro Alaggio”, where the fishermen anchor their boats to repair them from the waves, stands the carefully proportioned, three storeyed Palazzo Scatena with its double row of squared stone balconies. Nearby is the eclectic Villa Zagari, built in 1933. The ancient fountains, scattered here and there, the squares and churches, each with its own history, the cliffs and rocks which shatter into the sea, offer a natural landscape of rare beauty, watched over by the austere Castle of the Ruffo family standing on the rock belonging to Homer’s monster. Built for military purposes, this imposing building was turned into a residential home by the count, Paolo Ruffo, who took over the fief of Scilla from the preceding lords in 1532.From the Castle there is a marvellous view of the Eolian islands and the Sicilian coast.
The territory does not only offer sword fish, but also the bouquet of its wine obtained from the zibibbo grapes and the fragrance of its verdello lemons.
The king of the cuisine of Scilla is the sword fish: here, as in Bagnara, it is cooked according to traditional recipes either in the oven, in the frying pan or in sauce with maccheroni.