The city of Catanzaro is the capital of the province of the same name in the Calabria region in southern Italy. The city was constructed on three hills, the highest one of which is the Colle di San Giovanni. It is located in the middle of a stretch of land between the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian Sea and the Colle San Giovanni offers a panoramic view over both. The territory of Catanzaro includes an 8 kilometer stretch of coast line.
Catanzaro travel guide
Tourist information: A.P.T. Azienda Promozione Turistica – Via San Nicola, 8 – 88100 Catanzaro. Phone: +39 0961 727973.
Town hall: Palazzo De Nobili – Via Jannoni, 68 – 88100 Catanzaro. Phone: +39 0961 8811.
Railway station: The main train station of the city is called Catanzaro Lido.
The three hills Catanzaro is built on are the Colle San Tritone (aka Colle San Rocco), the Colle del Vescovado and the Colle San Giovanni.
The latter is also known as the Colle del Castello, because of the castle Robert Guiscard constructed there in 1070. Though ransacked for building materials in the 15th century, this fortress is still one of the city’s main sights.
The Norman Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta e i Santi Pietro e Paolo. It was constructed in 1121.
The Sant’Omobono Church is all that was left of a complex run by the Order of the Bianchi di Santa Croce and.
The Basilica dell’Immacolata Concezione was built in 1252. Until 1883, it was the Cathedral of the city.
The Monte dei Morti Church was built in 1560, by the Jesuits Order.
Other churches are the Chiesa dell’Osservanza (15th century) and the Chiesa del Rosario (17th century).
The Palazzo dei Nobili is the most striking private palace from the early 19th century.
The Villa Bly is a renowned art-déco construction.
The Palazzo Ferrari de Riso was constructed in the 16th century.
Museums and galleries
The San Giovanni Complex is an exhibition space in the Piazza Garibaldi.
Other points of interest
The one arch Morandi viaduct is the tallest one of its kind in Europe.
The Impressive Politeama Theater was constructed by Paolo Portoghesi.
The Villa Margerita offers a panoramic view of the surroundings.
A brief history of Catanzaro
Catanzaro was probably founded around the turn of the 9th and the 10th century. After Calabria had been taken over by the Byzantines, the center was fortified and became a place of refuge for the coastal populations having to flee from the Saracen raids.
In 1059 Robert Guiscard conquered the city from the Byzantines. During Norman reign, Catanzaro was the center of a vast feudal area.
Some time after construction of the castle, a village sprang up. The manufacturing of sill became a specialty of the territory.
In the 15th century, the castle built by Guiscard was partially destroyed. Its material was used to embellish the Cathedral.
Later, more architectural elements were looted in order to build the San Giovanni Church and to renovate the Chiesa dell’Osservanza.
Halfway through the 15th century, the population rebelled against the then feudal lord, count Celles.
In 1528, the city was under siege by French troops. Charles V, on whose side the population fought, rewarded the city with the right to bear the imperial eagle on its coat of arms.
How to get to Catanzaro by car
There is a big car park at Pié Sala (Monday to Saturday from 07:00 till 21:00). The cost is 1,50 Euros and included a return ticket for the funicular to the historical center and for the shuttle bus between Piazza Roma and Piazza Matteotti.