Lying on Italy's southern tip is the port town of Crotone, where ancient Greek civilisation once thrived and has left a lasting legacy in the region's wine and its sightseeing. Modern Crotone offers all the convenience of a Mediterranean resort, but everywhere you look the past makes its presence felt – from classical statues to ancient columns and fortresses, all set amidst the striking coastline of the Ionian Sea.
Crotone is a site of the ancient Magna Grecia period, where the culture, cuisine and architecture of ancient Greece found its way westwards into southern Italy. Much of the history of the period survives to this day in the dry, moderate climate, and excavations constantly turn up ancient artefacts that help to build an idea of the ancient Greek culture here – many of which are now housed in the local archaeological museum. Even the region's renowned wine has ancient roots:
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The foundations of the villages outside Crotone were originally settlements founded by the ancient Greeks, who began producing Ciro wine here thousands of years ago. Today the region is still well known for the exceptional standard of its wine, as well as the purity of its locally-produced olive oil. A shore excursion here could give you the chance to taste both for yourself, amidst remarkable Mediterranean countryside in an area that combines both Italian and ancient Greek culture.
Among the many historical attractions around Crotone is the magnificent Castella, standing alone on a tiny island in the bay and surrounded by the clear blue-green sea. The ancient fort lies five miles south of Crotone in a small fishing village, and you may have the chance to tour the castle's steps and towers – or take a ride on a glass-bottom boat to see some of the ruins that have long since tumbled down into the sea.
This hilltop town is often cited as one of Italy's most picturesque, offering visitors a combination of charming homes and imposing military architecture. Opting for a shore excursion here will take you by coach through the beautiful, hilly countryside of the Neto Valley. Once you arrive, you'll have the chance to see the square, solid style of Santa Severina's cathedral and even wander the rooms and halls of Carafa Castle – home to Baroque paintings, a network of tunnels running beneath it, and thousand-year-old battlements offering remarkable views of the surrounding hills and the sea in the distance.
Shopping in Crotone
Shoppers will find designer clothes, fragrance and jewellery in the boutiques and shopping centres of Crotone; but the true cultural wealth of the region lies in the small shops that hide away in the old town area. Here you'll find locally-made arts and crafts, as well as remarkably detailed terracotta pieces that make for perfect souvenirs.
Eating out in Crotone
The waterfront restaurants of Crotone and its surrounding region serve simple, delicious Italian favourites like seafood risotto, or imaginative creations using ingredients like seaweed – all served with exceptional local wines. Many of the town's most enchanting restaurants are small and hidden away; but once inside, the white table cloths, the golden glow of the candles and the much-loved cuisine may well give you a new favourite restaurant.