Capo Vaticano on Calabria’s Coast of the Gods

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We’re in the very heart of Calabria’s famed Coast of the Gods, or Costa degli Dei, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The moment you set eyes on the brilliant white shore and the penetrating tones of the blue sea, you’ll understand why the ancient Greeks named it such. It truly is godly. Capo Vaticano is more of a geographical point referring to the promontory in the municipality of Ricardi. It too earned its name in a rather fantastic way: Vaticinium, Latin for “oracle”. The Greeks and Romans believed that an oracle lived in a sea grotto on the promontory. Even now, Capo Vaticano remains just as spellbinding as it was thousands of years ago.

Capo Vaticano’s Promontory

At 125 meters above sea level, Capo’s promontory is a geological wonder made of a rare white/gray granite that continues to be studied by geologists all over the world. It is believed to be the oldest point in the entire Mediterranean. Today, in addition to its beauty, it’s known for the military lighthouse that was built in 1870 and is still in use today. 

Don’t miss the most spectacular panoramic spot on the promontory. The Belvedere Capo Vaticano is part of a park and offers 180-degree views of the Coast of the Gods and the Aeolian Islands including Stromboli. On exceptionally clear days, you can cast your eyes across the Strait of Messina and glimpse its Capo Peloro. You’ll also find a convenient parking lot and comfortable benches to take in the view.

What Draws Most Visitors Here: The Sea

Mare, mare, and more mare. Capo Vaticano’s beaches vary from white sand and shallow waters to rocky cliffs perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Let’s begin at Spiaggia del Tono just north of the lighthouse. You’ll find a mixture of white sandy beaches and small pebbles. There are sections available where you can rent your umbrella and chaise lounge chair as well as “free beach” where you bring your own gear. The water here tends to get choppy and is not shallow so probably not ideal for young children.

capo vaticano-vibo valentia

Moving south, we have Praia a Focu beach as it’s known in the local dialect. This white sand beach is a tiny inlet and can be reached only by boat. If you want to see one of the most breathtaking spots on the promontory, then rent a kayak or pedal boat at one of the numerous locations at the larger beaches and make your way here. 

Another paradisiacal spot that can only be reached via water is the Spiaggia a Ficara. Fine white sand and sheer cliffs with deep water are the key features here. If you took our advice and rented a boat, then you can stop at both Praia a Focu and Ficara.

Likely the most famous of Capo Vaticano’s entire coastline is Grotticelle di Capo Vaticano. This is where most visitors spend the majority of their time because it is by far the most convenient and the largest. Ample choices of restaurants, cafes, boat rentals, and tour companies can be found here as well as both “free beach” areas and bathing establishments. There is also a large parking lot which means you won’t have to walk too far in the hot sun. 

In the Immediate Area

It goes without saying that from Capo Vaticano, it’s practically obligatory that you visit Tropea, the most popular destination on the Coast of the Gods. You can drive the length of the coast from Pizzo Calabro to Nicotera (about 50 km) stopping all along the way. The Strada Statale 522 hugs the coastline from Pizzo all the way to Santa Domenica. 

capo vaticano-tropea

As we already mentioned, Capo Vaticano is technically not a town, but the municipality of Ricardi is comprised of a total of eight small towns (the smallest being Barbalaconi with just 45 residents). If you want a break from the beach and have an adventurous spirit, why not explore the tiny hamlets of Santa Domenica and Ciaramiti


Tips For Your Visit

Southern Italy is still very much under-serviced as far as public transportation is concerned. The closest airport to Capo Vaticano is Lamezia-Terme which is almost 50 km away. A bus can take you from the airport to Lamezia’s train station and then it’s about an hour train ride to Ricadi. The Tropea line does stop at Pizzo, Tropea, and Ricardi among others along the way. You can also rent a car at the airport.

Keep in mind that the Coast of the Gods boasts comfortable temperatures year-round with its coldest month being January when temps average 15° C max and 5° C min. The best months of the year to enjoy perfect weather, lower prices, and fewer crowds are May, June, late September, and October.

capo vaticano-costa degli dei-calabria

The only downfall of this magnificent stretch of coast, well, actually there are two, is that it is no longer a well-kept secret. In July and August, don’t be shocked when you find massive crowds. And the second, despite the crowds, you will be so enthralled by its beauty and authenticity that you will want to stay forever