Italy’s Coastal Wonders: Calabria
Maren Kristin Oberzier
The region of Calabria is located in the south of Italy, actually the last region of the “boot” before Sicily. The western part is in the Tyrrhenian Sea, while the southern belongs to the Ionian Sea. The region is divided into 5 parts: Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio di Calabria, Vibo Valentia and Catanzaro. The Calabrian peninsula is known as one of the poorest regions in Europe. There are little industry or attractions to attract tourists.
The region offers good conditions for divers and food lovers. The beautiful nature and the pine covered cliffs are simply enchanting. The location ensures warm weather from May to the end of October. Also in Calabria you can find the Apennines, the Calabrian Apennines with three large massifs of ancient rock that surround the entire coast.
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that the seas and coasts are facing many problems due to global warming: marine pollution, rising sea levels and illegal nuclear waste dumping. Over the years, many organisations have formed and planned new projects to fight against marine pollution. So there is still hope for these ecosystems.
The Thyrrenian coast is part of the Mediterranean Sea: to the west it’s the Italian mainland between Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily, to the north it’s the Ligurian Sea and to the East its connected to the Ionian Sea by the Strait of Messina. The sea lies on a complex system of tectonic plates. Geologically, it is younger than the rest of the Mediterranean. Its triangular shape is the result of vulcanism and its maximum depth is 3,480 meters.
It is also where the Tiber River ends. In the gulf of Cagliari there is the largest marsh of the Tyrrhenian coast. Compared to the Adriatic Sea, the western coast has better conditions for ports, better conditions and connections with the Atlantic. From a biological point of view, the Tyrrhenian Sea has a low level of bioproductivity, with the exception of the Strait of Messina. The most important biological areas are the rocky shores, which are home to valuable corals and lobsters.
This area is famous for being the most beautiful in Italy. Clear waters, sandy beaches and impressive cliffs. It’s close to Tropea, one of the most famous towns in Calabria. There are the bays of Golfo di S. Eufemia and Golfo di Gioia Tauro. From the coast you can see the Aeolian Islands and Sicily.
Costa Viola is a 35 km strip of land in Calabria, nestled between the sea and the mountains. At sunset, reflections and shadows appear on the water. Hence the name Viola, because it creates a play of light in all possible shades of violet. A true natural spectacle for the human eye. One of the most beautiful towns on the coast is Scilla, famous for its fishing and the Castello Ruffo, built on a large rock. The beach itself is a mixture of fine pebbles and coarse sand.
Baia di Riaci
Baia di Riaci in Santa Domenica is a sandy bay 2 kilometers long, not far from Tropea. The bay owes its name to the impressive rock called “Scoglio Riaci”. The beach is made up of a long strip of white sand and a group of rocks that form a bay with a blue and transparent sea bed and rocky cliffs, immersed in a crystal clear and shallow sea. Riaci is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa degli Dei, a coastline of about 55 kilometers. It is a unique place, with the island of Stromboli on the horizon and a rich and fragrant fauna.
How can we protect Italy’s coastal wonders?
For 20 years, biologists have been warning that Calabria will become Europe’s garbage dump if the illegal dumping of nuclear waste continues. More than 100 ships carrying toxic waste have been sunk in the Mediterranean by the Italian mafia clan “Ndrangheta”.
600 waste dumps are on the government’s list of sites to be monitored and cleaned up. But so far the authorities have done little. Legambiente, one of Italy’s leading environmental organizations, has written a letter to the president of the region, Roberto Occhiuto. They want to draw his attention to the proposed Law No. 117/XII “Regulations on Protected Areas and the Regional Biodiversity System”.
However, the law doesn’t make it clear how Calabria will achieve its biodiversity targets by 2030, which are to protect 30% of the territory and at least 10% of the sea. Legambiente Calabria’s aim in proposing these amendments is to help improve the text of the law. They also emphasize the need to study the amendments in advance, with the sole aim of making the regulations governing protected areas more effective.
The Costa Crociere Foundation and CIRSPE (Italian Research and Study Centre for Fisheries) are also committed to raising awareness about the protection of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the environment. This is done through direct participation in environmental education programs, educational activities in schools and concrete actions to clean up the coasts. With many helping hands, they have already come closer to their goal. Already 36,380 m2 of coastline have been cleaned, 90 school classes have participated and 2,981 kg of marine waste has been collected.
In summary, a lot has happened in recent years to protect marine biodiversity. Organizations have been set up and projects implemented. However, the Italian State should also take action and work to protect the seas. The presidents of the regions can no longer look away and must use their influence on the population and on legislation. Only together can we really make a difference and ensure that the diversity of our coasts will be preserved.