EXCURSION to Pentedattilo
Municipality: Melito di Porto Salvo
Elevation difference: negligible
Altitude: 147 metres
Time: 1-2 hours (round tour)
Drinking water: not available
Ordinance Survey Map: Melito F° 263 I NO
Pentedattilo is one of Calabria’s most haunting hamlets and gets its name from the mountain to which it clings: the Byzantine term penta-daktylos means five fingers. The outcrop stretches its rocky finger-like pinnacles skywards and the sunset paints them red, or as the local legend would have it, stains them with blood. The place was, in fact, the scene of a tragic episode centuries ago. The first settlement probably goes back to Roman times as the arrival point of the Ionian Consular Road known as the Traiana which joined the Via Popilia which from Reggio Calabria, near Catona, followed the Tyrrhenian coastline as far as Capua. The port of Pentedattilo, Annà, near present-day Melito Porto Salvo, was the locality which provided the easiest route to eastern Sicily. This same route was chosen by Garibaldi for his 1860 and 1862 expeditions, of which the cannonball shot from a Bourbon ship and still stuck in the façade of casa Ramirez, where the general was lodging, bears concrete witness. The village was abandoned in the 1960-70’s , but since the 1990’s a number of initiatives aimed at revitalising the hamlet have been undertaken by various people, including the most recent Agenzia dei Borghi Solidali [Solidary Hamlet Agency] which has converted some of the buildings into craft studios, small museums, exhibition rooms, educational workshops , while accommodation is provided at the Ostello di Pentedattilo Nuovo [The Pentedattilo Nuovo Hostel]. Numerous cultural and artistic events are organised here. The ring route proposed here, offers unusual views of the fortress and ends with a walk through the alleyways and a climb up to the ruins of the castle, wedged into the rock.
Arriving by car
From Reggio Calabria take the SS 106 and after less than 30 kilometres, just before Melito, turn off and follow the signs for Pentedattilo.
Participants must leave their cars in the parking lot below the fortress (cars are “outsize” for the narrow streets and lanes) and take the road leading to the hamlet on foot. They should not, however, enter the village centre but turn right down a dirt trail, and having passed the cemetery, skirt the village in an anticlockwise direction. Halfway along this route they turn northwards, under the massive walls, and then leave Pentedattilo behind them. Having reached a junction near a group of houses (S. Antonio locality) the group turns left and takes a trail in the direction of Pentedattilo. After a few dozen metres, the excursionists turn left to take a pathway which winds through abandoned terracing and gardens, enters the Falconera district and soon reaches Pentedattilo. The outcrop is a very particular place, providing shelter to numerous predators and a habitat to plants, specialised in adapting to verticality and to scarcity of nutritional elements.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Greek Calabria