The Hidden Gem of Pentedattilo in the Toe of the Boot

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Driving down the SS106, along the coast a little bit south of Reggio Calabria, in the Melito Porto Salvo area, you can see the unusal peak of Monte Calvario sticking out like a sore thumb. In English its name is Mount Calvary, this is in reference to the place where Jesus was crucified. The suggestive aspect of this place doesn’t end here.

Continuing in the direction of the torrent Annà and going up the hill, the road narrows to a single winding ribbon of asphalt and a spectacular vista reveals itself: an enigmatic village built into the fingers of a giant stone hand at the edge of the breathtaking panorama of the Strait of Messina.  The village looks towards Sicily, it seems as if it is supported on the palm of a hand erupting from the ground to protect it while presenting the village to the gaze of the world. The magical appearance of Pentedattilo is such that the Dutch artist Escher depicts it in a number of lithography when he journeyed in Calabria.

Five Stone Fingers

It is a picture-perfect postcard. Anyone with a good camera can take suggestive photos of this village that capture the poetic imagery. Its charm is already in the name: Pentedattilo, from the Greek penta daktilos, which means five fingers. You will enjoy the scenery, but once you set foot on one of the cobblestone alleyways and find yourself surrounded by empty houses nestled between sandstone rock and lush vegetation, you might overwhelmed by the sense of mystery that permeates this place. Pentedattilo is a tiny ghost town. Abandoned since the nineteenth century, yet it still retains its magic.

A Tiny Ghost Town with a Long History

But what is most striking is the quantity of prickly pears and unusual rocks that stick out everywhere and include some houses. While it is uninhabited today, Pentedattilo has a long history, in fact ithas Greek origins not only in its name. Founded in 640 BC, it had been a Calcidese colony, then a Fort controlling access to the upper part of Aspromonte. From 1660, it became part of a noble family estate. During the years, its property was transferred from a family to another as part of trades or legacies.

The Devil’s Hand

In the 18th century, a bloody story known as The Massacre of The Alberti caused great distress in the town. The massacre was the cruel end of the clash between two noble families. Brides and missed marriage are involved in a messy romance that was finally resolved with the use of violence. According to the legend, the five stone fingers are often named the Devil’s Hand because the rocks flow with blood.

Further misfortune befell the town, as with the earthquake of 1783 depopulation and desertion of the town continued until no one was leftNow only the Castle, the Church of SS. Peter and Paul and the Church of Candlemas remain to preserve records of its glory days. Moreover, who come here will fall in love with the incredible panorama. From the place in front of the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, you can see the valley with the riverbed, the Strait of Messina, and finally Sicily and Mount Etna.

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Rediscovering the Ghost Town

Nowadays Pentadattilo relives for tourists and filmmakers. In the town there is an International Short Film Festival that attracts here young and master directors (for more information visit www.pentedattilofilmfestival.net/en/). The narrow streets and the evocative places during the summer are the perfect location for concerts planned by the “Paleariza”, an itinerant music festival with events in many towns of the Greek Calabria (www.paleariza.it).