Reggio Calabria, Italy

Reggio di Calabria, Sicilian-Calabrian dialect: Rìggiu, Italic-Greek of Bovesia: Righi, Ancient Greek: Ῥήγιον, Rhḗgion, Latin: Rhēgium), commonly known as Reggio Calabria About this sound listen (help·info) or simply Reggio in Southern Italy, is the biggest city and the most populated comune of Calabria, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria and the seat of the Regional Council of Calabria.

Reggio is located on the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula and is separated from the island of Sicily by the Strait of Messina. It is situated on the slopes of the Aspromonte, a long, craggy mountain range that runs up through the center of the region. The third economic center of mainland Southern Italy, the city proper has a population of more than 200,000 inhabitants spread over 236 square kilometres (91 sq mi), while the fast-growing urban area numbers 260,000 inhabitants. About 560,000 people live in the metropolitan area, recognised in 2015 by Italian Republic as a metropolitan city.

As a major functional pole in the region, it has strong historical, cultural and economic ties with the city of Messina, which lies across the strait in Sicily, forming a metro city of less than 1 million people.

Reggio is the oldest city in the region, and despite its ancient foundation – Ρηγιον was an important and flourishing colony of Magna Graecia – it has a modern urban system, set up after the catastrophic earthquake on 28 December 1908, which destroyed most of the city. The region has been subject to earthquakes.

It is a major economic center for regional services and transport on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Reggio, with Naples and Taranto, is home to one of the most important archaeological museums, the prestigious National Archaeological Museum of Magna Græcia, dedicated to Ancient Greece (which houses the Bronzes of Riace, rare example of Greek bronze sculpture, which became one of the symbols of the city). Reggio is the seat, since 1907, of the Archeological Superintendence of Bruttium and Lucania. The city has two recently founded universities: the "Mediterranea" University, and the "Università per Stranieri" (University for Foreigners). There are also an Academy of Fine Arts (opened in 1967) and a Conservatory of Music (founded 1927).

The city center, consisting primarily of Liberty buildings, has a linear development along the coast with parallel streets, and the promenade is dotted with rare magnolias and exotic palms. Reggio has commonly used popular nicknames: The "city of Bronzes", after the Bronzes of Riace that are testimonials of its Greek origins; the "city of bergamot", which is exclusively cultivated in the region; and the "city of Fatamorgana", an optical phenomenon visible in Italy only from the Reggio seaside.

The city was an Italian candidate to become the European Capital of Culture. in 2019.

Το Ρήγιο βρίσκεται στον Πορθμό της Μεσσήνης, ο οποίος χωρίζει την Ιταλία από τη Σικελία. Ακριβώς Β του Ρήγιου, το πλοίο στο οποίο επέβαινε ο Παύλος έπρεπε να περάσει από το ακρωτήριο της Σκύλλας, που βρισκόταν στον πορθμό από τη μεριά της Ιταλίας, και από το θαλάσσιο στρόβιλο της Χάρυβδης από τη μεριά της Σικελίας, σημεία που οι αρχαίοι ναυτικοί θεωρούσαν επικίνδυνα. 

Μία ημέρα μετά την άφιξή τους στο Ρήγιο, σηκώθηκε νότιος άνεμος ο οποίος τους βοήθησε να περάσουν με ασφάλεια τον πορθμό και να κινηθούν ΒΒΔ προς τους Ποτιόλους.—Πρ 28:13.

From the late 3rd millennium BC onwards until the 8th century BC the city was inhabited by peoples such as the Osci (sometimes referred to as Opici), Phoenicians, Trojans, Mycenaeans and Achæans, then by Oenotrians, Ligures, Ausones, Mamertines, Taureanes, Sicels, Morgeti and Itali. The sculptor Léarchos was at Reggio at the end of the 15th century BC, and one Iokastos appears on its coinage at the beginning of the 13th century BC. The land around Reggio was first known as Saturnia, or Neptunia, and later Italia, which in Roman times became the name of the whole Italian peninsula. In those days however, it corresponded only to present-day, southern Calabria, which later came to be known as Bruttium, while the name Italia (Italy), in fact, was first used only for the area of Reggio itself.

After Cumae, Reggio is one of the oldest Greek colonies in southern Italy. The colony was settled by the inhabitants of Chalcis in 730 or 743 BC on the site of the older settlement, Erythrà (Ερυθρά), meaning "the Red one". This dated back to the 3rd millennium BC and was perhaps established by the Ausones. The last Ausonian ruler was king Italós, from whom the name of Italy is derived. King Iokastos is buried on the Punta Calamizzi promontory, called "Pallantiòn", where Greek settlers later arrived. The colony retained the earlier name of "Rhégion" (Ρήγιoν).

Under Greek rule, Reggio became a Polis of Magna Græcia and an ally of Athens; it was also first an ally and then an enemy of nearby Locri. Rhégion was governed by the Messenians, from 737 to 461 BC; by Syracuse from 387 to 351 BC, when it was known as Phœbèa and subsequently by the Campanians but between the 5th–3rd centuries BC, from time to time, it was also a republic. Reggio was one of the most important cities in Greater Greece, reaching great economic and political power during the 5th and 6th centuries BC under the Anaxilas government. Anaxilas allowed Reggio to rule over all the Messina Strait, including Zancle (modern Messina). Rhegion later allied with Athens during the Peloponnesian War until 387 BC when the city was taken by the Syracusans.
Χάλκινο άγαλμα ήρωα από τη θάλασσα κοντά στο Riace της Καλαβρίας, 440-430 π.Χ. Ρήγιο Καλαβρίας, Museo Nazionale.

Το Ρήγιο ήταν από τις σημαντικότερες πόλεις της Μεγάλης Ελλάδας, φτάνοντας σε μεγάλη οικονομική και πολιτική ισχύ κατά την διάρκεια του 6ου και του 5ου αιώνα π.Χ. 

Throughout classical antiquity Rhégion remained an important maritime and commercial city as well as a cultural centre as is demonstrated by the presence of academies of art, philosophy and science, such as the Pythagorean School and also by its well-known poet, Íbykos, the historian, Ippys, the musicologist, Glaúkos and the sculptors Pythagóras and Kléarkhos.

About the time of the birth of Christ, the famous geographer and historian Strabo described Reggio as an "illustrious city". Many items of archaeological interest from this Hellenic era have been retrieved and are displayed in various places locally.

Under the Greek rule, the former Italic culture was amalgamated into the Hellenic before disappearing altogether.

As an independent city since 271 BC Regium was an important ally and "socia navalis" of Rome. During the Imperial age it became one of the most important and flourishing cities of southern Italy when it was the seat of the "Corrector", the Governor of "Regio II Lucania et Bruttii" (province of Lucany and Brutium). During the Roman Empire it was elected a Municipium and named "Rhegium Julium" as a noble Roman city. It was a central pivot for both maritime and mainland traffic, reached by the final part of the Via Popilia (also known as Via Annia), which was built in the 2nd century BC and joined the older, Via Appia at Capua, south of Rome. Close to Reggio, on the Straits of Messina, was the busy port of Columna Rhegina. Rhegium boasted in imperial times, nine thermal baths, one of which is still visible today on the sea-front. During the whole Latin age Reggio maintained not only its Greek customs and language but also its Mint.

Τετράδραχμο του Ρήγιου, 415-387 π.Χ.

In 61 AD the apostle St. Paul passed through Rhegium on his final voyage towards Rome,converting the first local Christians and, according to tradition, laying the foundations of the Christianization of Bruttium. Due to its seismic activity, the Reggio area was often damaged by earthquakes, such as in 91 BC, when it was destroyed but then was rebuilt by order of the Emperor Augustus. Other memorable shocks took place in the years 17, 305 and 374 AD.

Invasions by the Vandals, the Lombards and the Goths occurred in the 5th- 6th centuries, and then, under Byzantine rule, Reggio became, a Metropoli of the Byzantine possessions in Italy and several times between 536 and 1060 AD was also the capital of the Duchy of Calabria.

Following wars between the Lombards and Byzantines in the 6th century, present-day Calabria, then known as Bruttium, was renamed Calabria.
As Reggio was a Byzantine centre of culture, certain monks undertook the work of scribes and carried out the transcription of ancient classical works. Until the 15th century Reggio was one of the most important Greek-rite.

Bishoprics in Italy and even today Greek words are used and are recognisable in local speech and Byzantine terms can be found in local liturgy, in religious icons and even in local recipes.
Η Μεσσήνη στο βάθος από την παραλία του Ρηγίου 

Numerous occupying armies came to Reggio during the early Middle Ages due to the city's strategic importance. The Arabs occupied Reggio in 918 and sold most of it inhabitants into slavery.For brief periods in the 10th–11th centuries the city was ruled by the Arabs and, renamed Rivàh (or sometimes Rŷu), became part of the Emirate of Sicily.

Εικ. 1. Άποψη του Ρέτζιο Καλάμπρια, το αρχαίο Ρήγιο, στην Ιταλία. Εικ. 2. Άποψη της Σκύλλα, πόλη στην Καλαβρία της Ιταλίας. Εικ. 3. Πύργος στην Καλαβρία.

During the period of Arab rule various beneficial ideas were introduced into Calabria, such as Citrus fruit trees, Mulberry trees (used in silk production) and several ways of cooking local vegetables such as aubergines. The Arabs introduced water ices and ice cream and also greatly improved agricultural and hydraulic techniques for irrigation.

In 1060 the Normans, under Robert Guiscard and Roger I of Sicily, captured Reggio but Greek cultural and religious elements persisted until the 17th century. In 1194 Reggio and the whole southern Italy went to the Hohenstaufen, who would hold it until 1266. In 1234 the town fair was established by decree of Emperor Frederick II.
From 1266 it was ruled by the Angevins, under whom life in Calabria deteriorated because of the their tendency to accumulate wealth in their capital, Naples, leaving Calabria in the power of local Barons.In 1282, during the Sicilian Vespers, Reggio rallied in support of Messina and the other oriental Sicily cities because of the shared history, commercial and cultural interests. From 1147 to 1443 and again from 1465 to 1582, Reggio was the capital of the Calabrian Giustizierato. It supported the Aragonese forces against the House of Anjou. In the 14th century it obtained new administrative powers. In 1459 the Aragonese enlarged its medieval castle.

Reggio, throughout the Middle Ages, was first an important centre of calligraphy and then of printing after its inventions, boasting the first dated printed edition of a Hebrew, a Rashi commentary on the Pentateuch, printed in 1475 in La Giudecca of Reggio although scholars consider Rome as the city where Hebrew printing began. The Jewish Community was also considered to be among the foremost internationally, for the dyeing and the trading of silk: silk woven in Reggio was esteemed and bought by the Spaniards, the Genoese, the Dutch, the English and the Venetians, as it was recognised as the best silk in the Kingdom of Naples

From the early 16th century, the Kingdom of Naples was under the Habsburgs of Spain, who put Reggio undet a viceroy from 1504 to 1713. The 16th and 17th centuries were an age of decay due to high Spanish taxes, pestilence, the 1562 earthquake, and the Ottoman Turkish invasions suffered by Reggio between 1534 and 1594. In 1534, facing attack by an Ottoman fleet under Hayreddin Barbarossa the townspeople abandoned Reggio. Barbarossa captured eight hundred of those who remained, and then burned the town. After Barbary pirates attacked Reggio in 1558, they took most of its inhabitants as slaves to Tripoli.

In 1714 southern Italy became once more property of the Austrian Habsburgs who remained until 1734, when they were replaced by the Bourbons of Spain. Reggio was the capital of Calabria Ulteriore Prima from 1759 to 1860. In 1783, a disastrous earthquake damaged Reggio, all southern Calabria and Messina.

The precious citrus fruit, Bergamot orange, had been cultivated and used in the Reggio area since the 15th century. By 1750 it was being grown intensively in the Rada Giunchi area of Reggio and was the first plantation of its kind in the world.

In 1783 Reggio was again razed to the ground by an earthquake which was felt all over southern Calabria. The Bourbon government hastaned to rebuilt the city, even expropriating religious properties to increase funds, and profoundly altering the urban aspect of the city, giving the present-day layout of straight, intersecting roads planned by Giovambattista Mori in 1784.

In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte took Reggio and made the city a Duchy and General Headquarters. After the former's fall, in 1816, the two ancient Kingdoms of Naples and of Sicily were unified becoming the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.

During the course of 19th century new public gardens were laid out, the piazzas (or squares) were embellished and cafés and a theatre were opened. On the newly opened sea promenade a Civic Museum was inaugurated. In fact some 60 years after the devastation caused by the 1783 earthquake, the English traveller and painter Edward Lear remarked "Reggio is indeed one vast garden, and doubtless one of the loveliest spots to be seen on earth. A half-ruined castle, beautiful in colour and picturesque in form, overlooks all the long city, the wide straits, and snow-topped Mongibello beyond.

The archaeological park of the Greek walls 
On the seafront Lungomare Falcomatà, in relation to Piazza Camagna, you can admire the longest part of the Greek city walls of Reggio.

The walls are surrounded by ironwork rails and a gate, all in wrought iron.  From a historic point of view, we have to look at these parts of the city walls called “Greek” as actually a part of the city walls that had always existed up to the earthquake of 1783. Restored many times to face the ravages of time and to keep up with the techniques used by potential attackers which became ever more sophisticated. With regard to the structure, the walls, built using bricks of which there has remained almost no trace, were built on foundations in local stone with numerous quarry marks.
The walls were constructed with a two curtain technique; in the lower part due to the shortage of hard local stone, the walls were built using blocks of local sandstone perhaps found in the Annunziata river. These were positioned in two parallel lines with perpendicular stretches. The empty space between the walls was filled with soil and rubble and on the base of these solid walls the real external walls were raised using bricks.
The part remaining today is of extreme interest as it shows a stretch of walls where the western part creates a corner, moving to the east, and in this way closes the southern part of the city’s protective wall.
We are uncertain to the exact date of construction: Guzzo has established that together with the bricks fragments of ceramic have been found but even these after analysis still leave an ample window of time open, the current hypothesis is that the walls were build after mid 4th century BC, when Dionisio rebuilt the city of Reggio, then called Febea, the city of Febo Apollo. The city’s archaeologists hypothesise that in the city walls surrounding Reggio the bricks in the raw walls date back to the tyrant Anassila (5th centry BC) while those fired bricks are to be attributed to the period of the tyrant Dionisio II, who was in Reggio only between 356 and 351 BC, when it was raided and the liberty of the city population was returned.
Other scholars think however that the walls as we know them today date back to the end of the 4th century BC explaining the work under Dionisio II, the Repubblica Reggina (Reggina republic) and King Agatocle.
A recent restoration project has not improved the usability of the Greek walls even though their structure has been consolidated.

The Necropolis Reggine from the Greek age 
We only have a fragmented knowledge of the Reggine Necropolis. Except for some Archaic remains discovered in the necropolis of S. Caterina, the Archaic and classical tombs of the city are almost unknown while those of the Hellenistic Greek – Roman period are much better documented.
Other than the surburban necropolises ( therefore located against the city walls) to the south (in the area of S. Giorgio Extra) and to the north (the so called necropolis of S. Lucia – Museum), we also know of some out of town necropolises which served the smaller communities which were positioned around the Rhegion hub. Among these out of town necropolises there is one on the Pentimele hills in the area of S. Caterina – Port, to the east one relative to the Borrace Barraks and Condera, while to the south that of Modena, etrillina, S.Francesco and Ravagnese.

In the necropolis Reggine both incineration and burial were practised. The burial structure shows certain examples which are quite unusual. Signs that local artisans built large, sumptuous tombs with brickwork and also simpler chapel styles, with covered semicircular structures finished in brick with tiled roofs, to the simplest individual tombs which opened in “book” style and were created by placing tiles one on top of the other to create the cover.

The majority of the Hellenistic tombs (4th – 2nd Century BC) have shown poor examples of funeral accessories, the majority of which have given no more than simple locally produced aromatic containers.
The male tombs are often characterised by the presence of a strigile while in female tombs we often find bronze mirrors, vases and make-up / jewellery holders. From small containers with lead lids and in more rare cases actual jewellery such as earrings and rings.
We have frequently discovered artificial alabaster containers, cheaper solutions to the similar containers in oriental alabaster which often had a  disk shaped base one over the other with three indentations cut into the disk to obtain three supports.
Another characteristic of Reggine tombs is the thin disk of gold (bractea) with a pearl design on the edges and a figure in the centre which can be found between the teeth of the corpse.  This could be considered to be a traditional “oboli di Caronte” that accompanied the Greeks in their final voyage.

Timeline of Reggio Calabria
8th century BCE - Reghion established by Chalcidian Greeks.
386 BCE - Town sacked by forces of Dionysius I of Syracuse.
91 BCE - Earthquake.(it)
89 BCE - Rhegium becomes a Roman municipium.
17 CE - Earthquake.(it)
362 CE - Earthquake.(it)
410 CE - Reggio sacked by forces of Alaric.
458 - Reggio taken by forces of Totila.
550 - Roman Catholic diocese of Reggio Calabria established (approximate date).
950 - Reggio taken by Muslim forces.
1059 - Reggio taken by Norman forces.
1783 - Earthquake.
1806 - Administrative Distretto di Reggio (it) established.
1818 - Regia Biblioteca Ferdinandiana (library) established.
Real Teatro Borbonio (theatre) opens.
1852 - Archivio di Calabria Ultra Prima (archives) opens.
1860 21 August: Battle of Piazza Duomo (it); Garibaldian forces win.
Circondario di Reggio di Calabria (it) (administrative region) established.
1866 - Railway station opens; Reggio Calabria - Lazzaro railway begins operating.
1884 - Garibaldi monument erected in the Piazza Garibaldi (Reggio Calabria) (it).
1894 - Calabria earthquake of 1894 (it).
1895 - Battipaglia–Reggio di Calabria railway begins operating.
1896 - Villa comunale Umberto I (it) (park) opens.
1897 - Population: 46,399.

Reggio di Calabria is twinned with:
Greece Patras, Greece
Greece Athens, Greece, since 2003
Greece Egaleo, Greece, since 2004
Italy Cesana Torinese, Italy, since 2006
Italy Montesilvano, Italy, since 2009
Australia Fairfield City, Australia

Παυσανία Ελλάδος περιήγησις/Μεσσηνιακά ἐν τοσούτῳ δὲ Ἀναξίλας παρὰ τοὺς Μεσσηνίους ἀπέστελλεν ἐς Ἰταλίαν καλῶν. ὁ δὲ Ἀναξίλας ἐτυράννει μὲν Ῥηγίου,
Θουκυδίδη ιστορία, Ο Αθηναϊκός στόλος στο Ρήγιο
William Smith, ed. (1872) [1854]. "Rhegium". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
"Reggio", Handbook for Travellers in Southern Italy (8th ed.), London: J. Murray, 1878
"Reggio". Chambers's Encyclopaedia. London. 1901.
Umberto Cassuto (1905), "Reggio", Jewish Encyclopedia, 10, New York
"Reggio", Southern Italy and Sicily (15th ed.), Leipzig: Karl Baedeker, 1908
"Reggio Calabria", Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), New York, 1910, OCLC 14782424
Benjamin Vincent (1910), "Rhegium", Haydn's Dictionary of Dates (25th ed.), London: Ward, Lock & Co.
Roy Domenico (2002). "Calabria: Reggio di Calabria". Regions of Italy: a Reference Guide to History and Culture. Greenwood. pp. 48+. ISBN 0313307334.

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