Among woods and sea, from the old-city center of the medieval village Borgia to the wonderful archaeological site of Skylletion/Scolacium here the air you breathe is that of a simple, rich and authentic Calabria. To complete the picture of a place not to be missed there are the breathtaking views between the green hills and the blue Ionian sea, characterized by sinuous lines drawn by plenty olive trees.
A bit of history
The historical events of Borgia are interwoven with the vicissitudes of Skylletion, the Greek polis then became scolacium in Roman times. But recent evidence has presented new hypothesis that would contain another origin before the founding of the greek city. But recent testimonies have presented a hypothesis that would include an origin still prior to the foundation of the Greek city. In fact, before the arrival of the Greeks, it seems that the hilly area of Borgia was inhabited by a population prone to breeding and sheep farming. With the arrival of the Greeks, that village called Palagorio expanded and strengthened. When scolacium was abandoned because of the Muslim raids, the population of the Roman city took refuge in Palagorio. There are no traces of this ancient village: it is only known that in 1604 it was attacked by barbarian pirates, who probably caused the definitive disappearance of the site. The inhabitants of Palagorio erected in 1547 the new village by concession of Giovan Battista Borgia, who gave the name to the village. In 1755 the new village Borgia became autonomous by Squillace and was handed over to the noble family De Gregorio. In 1783, a catastrophic earthquake affected Calabria and completely destroyed Borgia, which was rebuilt by the architect Ferraresi, on the advice of the local General Vicar of the time. The roman urban plan of the new village, based on orthogonal axes, is today studied in the faculties of urban architecture of all universities.
Walking around the village
Borgia is a small town of just over 7,000 inhabitants, known around for its historical, artistic and landscape beauty. Ranked among the most beautiful villages in the whole of Calabria, it consists of three hamlets-districts: Donnantona, Roccelletta and Vallo that gently decline from the hill to the beaches of the famous “Orange Coast”.
The old town is a true urban gem, thanks to the Enlightenment style, full of monuments and noble buildings in its streets. A great starting-point for the exploration of the village is Piazza Ortona, where stands the Cathedral dedicated to “San Giovanni Battista” (St. John the Baptist), built in 1852, and the majestic monument to the local Fallen of the two World Wars.
The orthogonal plan and the rational layout of the streets encourage walks to discover the neoclassical churches. There are four main churches that follow an ideal path in this interesting historical centre completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1783, including the one dedicated to San Leonardo. Numerous aristocratic palaces that will keep you nose up, to admire arches and coats of arms that tell fascinating stories of the past.
Borgia all year round
In the seaside district of “Roccelletta of Borgia” there is the famous “Scolacium Archaeological Park”, a site of considerable importance established in 1982. The park, nestled among the centuries-old olive trees, preserves the remains of the ancient greek city of Skylletion and the subsequent roman Scolacium.
In this extraordinary site there are still cobbled streets, aqueducts, the inevitable spas but also mausoleums and tombs. Surprising the scenic ancient theater, carved in the natural slope of the hill and able to accommodate 5,000 spectators that was built during the 1st century b.C. and refurbished in the following centuries. The precious testimonies of the past found by archaeologists in the Scolacium-area are on display in the “Museum – Antiquarium”.
Still in the archaeological park of Scolacium you can admire the impressive ruins of the beautiful “Basilica of Santa Maria della Roccella”, among the largest and oldest olive-groove in Calabria, probably built in the Norman era. The view given by the contrast between the size of the building and the green of the olive groves is truly breathtaking. In this enchanting setting takes place every summer
the famous festival “Armonie d’Arte” with several cultural events and in international artists.
During the Easter holidays in Borgia is also possible to enjoy all the ancient rites of Holy Week, including the evocative rite of “Tamburru” which probably dates back to the time of the ancient the ancient Saracen invasions. On this special religious event some players, exactly at midnight that separates Wednesday from Holy Thursday, starting from the mail “Piazza del Santissimo Rosario”, walk along the streets of the village playing an original drum known as the “Tamburru”, a wooden instrument covered with the skin of the male goat at a rhythmic pace.
Well, in this territory you can experience cultural tourism but not only. Summer is also amazing in Borgia. The town-area is characterized by 6 km of pristine beaches: the white beach of the wonderful “Pineta di Roccelletta di Borgia” or the other beach close to Copanello; all the hidden bays, like the bay of Caminia, along the beautiful setting of the “Orange Coast”. Beaches deeply loved by locals who make visitors fall in love.
The culinary tradition of Borgia is the typical Mediterranean one, rich in flavors and aromas of orange and wild honey.
Here, the welcoming and generous nature, the gentle countryside dotted with farmhouses and mills, invites travelers to live slowly.
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