There is a place five minutes from my home in Palmi with one of the most breathtaking views you can find in Southern Italy. It’s Mount Saint Elia, a terrace on the Strait of Messina. From here you can see the coast from Scilla to Cape Vaticane and, in front of you, Messina and the Eolian Island. With a single look, you can embrace such a big and fascinating space that it seems as if you can touch everywhere with a finger.
This trait of coast is named Costa Viola, or Purple Coast, because of the violet glares caused by the reflection of red rocks and green vegetation into the blue sea. The mount is famous for its landscapes because it offers to visitors a wide range of views.
We are on the extreme tip of Aspromonte. Here mountains plunge into the sea donating magical atmosphere. You can find thick pine forest, mystical caves where Saint Elia lived and died and footpaths above the sea.
A place like this in South of Italy often have a legend that increases their mythical characters. Here, there’s a rock, known as The Devil’s Stone, that symbolizes the eternal conflict between good and evil, and it’s the start point to explain some elements of the landscape.
The Stone shows the track of feet and tail left by the Devil before taking flight. According to the popular belief, at that time, Saint Elia was trying to build a monastery on the mount, but the Devil has been destroyed his construction for two times. So, attempting to obtain his soul by deception, the Devil dressed up as an old man and approached to the Saint while he’s meditating on the mount.
He told to Elia to have found a sack of coins in an abandoned house and offered him to share the sum. The Saint recognized him. He kicked the false old man that fall in the water, picked up the bag and started to throw coins from the top of the mountain to the sea.
Each coin, touching the water, turned in black stone. This episode originates the name of one of the beaches of Palmi: Pietrenere, Blackstones Beach indeed. The Devil, instead, got stuck underwater in front of the mount and caused the rise of the volcanic island Stromboli from where goes on to blow his anger for the behaviour of the Saint.
How to arrive: Mount Saint Elia is approximately 50 km from Reggio Calabria, but you can easily arrive here from every part of Calabria. Driving on the A3 highway, take the Bagnara exit and follow the sign for Sant’Elia.
In the neighborhood: Saint Elia’s caves, Tracciolino footpath, Palmi, Seminara, and Bagnara.