“In the morning, I first open the window and look at the sea. That’s what makes my days happy”. This is how the caterisani, smiling and welcoming, speak of their borgo. A borgo nestled into a varied landscape, where the yellow of the clayish ravines is alternates with the green of the wild plants, until it leaves space to the deep blue of the Ionian waters.
A bit of history
Around the far away year 1000, some inhabitants of the colonies in the Ionian coast around Catanzaro, to escape the uninterrupted threats by Saracenics ricovered in the mountains nearby, establishing a new village known today as Santa Caterina dello Jonio.
Around 1070 the village became part of the Badolato County and in 1272 felt under the domain of the Conclubet that, following the revolutionary movement of the barons conspiracy, was overthrown. Many dominations followed as that of the Cordova or the Galeotta, until the lineage of France, which ruled until 1808, same year of the Giuseppe Bonaparte eversive feudality laws enactment abrogating the socalled “rete vassalla” of the Reign of Naples.
The earthquake in 1947, and the following floods of ‘51 and ‘53, provoked an exodus towards the coast, about 6 km distant. This relocation encouraged thanks to
De Gasperi govern fundings, aimed to build dwellings along the coast. Originally a small fishermen village for 20 household and a little church – still present – was established. Nowadays there is a cozy sea village, the summer residence for locals and a cool destination for those tourists in love with sea and underwater archaeology..
Wandering around the village
The glowing colours of the unspoilt nature and the scent of farmed fields surround the borgo which has a very particular shape. The only entrance is that of passing through the only remaining ancient door called “The water door”. Enjoy losing among the steep streets and the thich buildings reflecting the charm of tradition a next to the smiles and friendliness of the local people. It is still possible to admire the ruins of the XVIII century aristocratic palace which belonged to the French lineage. The building was damaged by a terrible fire in 1983, and just a very few ruins can still be seen. Among these elements made with local granite, there is the entry gate or the horses drinking through and the ancient area for the servants, still accessible. The ancient building had 2 floors: the upper floor was the residence for the Lords and the lower was used for the preparation and storage of olive oil and wine. The XVII century Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral in the main square has a latin cross structure and was reopened in 2003 after 20 years of works (following the terrible fire of 1983). Among the other churches, we mention that of Santa Caterina Di Alessandria, according to tradition it rises in the place where the Saint appeared to the Saracens, defending the village. Another remarkable church is that of the ’Immacolata Concezione on a breathtaking cliff, this church of the XVIII century shields precious artworks such as thel S.S. Rosario, a XVI century church, guarding a “Madonna col bambino”, of the famous painter Mattia Preti school.
Going to the coast the ionian sea waters vibrant blue dominates the landscape. Santa Caterina, beach caressed by eastern and western winds, is still a great theatre for fishermen. Simple and brave men whose efforts and satisfactions are passed through generations. Their faces signed by the sea, the sun and the wind show a great love for this place. Modern beach resorts and a long free beach with white sand sometimes granitic and pebbly are bathed by crystal blue waters. Along the stretch coastline you can observe almost preserved the ancient Torre di Sant’Antonio, of the 1563, one of 360 towers of the Spanish southern Italy domains guarded by horsewarriors, in charge of telling local people of the upcoming invasions..
Santa Caterina dello Ionio all year round
Santa Caterina dello Ionio, can be appreciated all year round. In the hot season, the marine area offers wonderful beaches and is an appreciated spot for archaeology divers. In fact, the sea bottom is home to very ancient wrecks. The Bronzi di Riace were found nearby. Halfway between the coast of Badolato Marina and Santa Caterina dello Ionio sleeps the wreckage called “Cosala”, a second world war ship beaten by a British submarine on its way from Taranto to Messina. Among the elderly people in Santa Caterina there is still someone who witnessed the noise of that day. Today the ship lays down at 40 metres. Another easiest diving leads to the Kingdom, another ancient ship.
June in the borgo is the feast of Corpus Domini, a colourful event thanks to the blanket hanged at every window.
As it often happens in the area, in springtime Easter is particularly celebrated with the holy week rituals.
During the winter in Santa Caterina Christmas eve is celebrated carrying a statue of the baby Jesus with the sound of the zampogne to every house of the village blessing its people. Finally it goes back to the cathedral with the show of fireworks on the background.
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