EXCURSION to the S. Niceto Castle
Municipality: Motta San Giovanni
Time required: 1.40 hours
Drinking water: at Paterriti
Altitude: Paterriti (417 metres above sea level) – Sant’Aniceto (677 metres above sea level.)
Elevation difference: 260 metres
Season: all year round
Signposting: red – white – red (but scarcely visible)
Ordinance Survey Maps: Scale 1:25.000 n.e. F° 602 III Motta ST Giovanni
The itinerary is short and simple but very evocative.
The excursion takes you through a countryside full of oak and olive trees, the fields girded by endless dry stone walls, overlooking a panoramic view of the southern end of the Messina Strait. The destination is the S. Niceto Castle which dominates an ample stretch of coast.
But it is not the fortress which makes the tour interesting. Round about the Castle there are several ancient country dwellings built exclusively in local stone but, also and, above all, numerous little churches, now in ruins and all belonging to the Middle Ages.
There is, in fact, a local saying that goes, “si dìssiru li missi a Patarriti, non si ndi rinnu cchiù missi cantati!” [They said masses in Paterriti, but they no longer sing masses!] probably recalling the time when the eastern-rite liturgy was sung in the many little churches scattered all over the area and hugely attended until not too long ago.
The itinerary is a ring that, on the way out, follows the old pathway,and on the way back the paved road north of the Castle.
Arriving by car
Take the southbound ring road from Reggio Calabria and exit at San Gregorio. Drive uphill as far as Croce Valanidi. A kilometre further on, but before reaching Oliveto, take the right detour to the Valanidi River (immediately after the fountain near the aqueduct in the Cuzzetta Locality). After 3 kilometres of a narrow, windy road you arrive at Paterriti.
Excursion on foot
Park the car in the tiny square and take the via Regia leading down to a small stream that cuts across the road. A little farther on, take the road to the left and begin the climb. At the next junction take the turning to the right; the concrete surface will soon become a mule trail that turns abruptly left. It now leaves the hamlet, and takes you through olive trees and oaks bordered by dry stone walls. Having reached a small house, go left where the stone paving becomes more evident. The view opens up to present the Strait and Mount Etna. Immediately after the house, continue along the pathway to the right in the direction of the mountain. Noiw, the way to follow and the looming bulk of the castle you are about ot reach, appear quite clear. On the way back take the road passing by a group of houses and travels around the Vallone di Paterriti. After a few kilometres of panoramic downhill road, you return to the point of departure.
Fonte: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca.