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What to see in Italy: Cala Leone

2020-07-03 20:14

Dr. Domenico Bagalà

Costa Viola, palmi, what to see in calabria, CALA LEONE, purple coast,

What to see in Italy: Cala Leone

WHAT TO SEE IN ITALY: CALA LEONE Cala Leone is a charming little beach along the Costa Viola.


Cala Leone is a charming little beach located along the Costa Viola near another wonderful beach, CalaJanculla.

 The name Cala Leone is linked to the extraordinary life of Saint Elias of Enna and the Byzantine emperor Leone XVI.


The place where the saint lived is one of the most panoramic and suggestive points of the municipality of Seminara. In fact, it overlooks the Strait of Messina and is the only place from where it is possible to look at two beaches that are considered the pearls of the Costa Viola, Cala Janculla and Cala Leone.


Image: Beach of Cala Leone.

Photo by Eugenio Crea.

Excerpt from the study "Topoagiography in the territory of the Saline Valley"[1].

(...) from the sources we know that the Imperial monastery of Saint Elias, had contacts with Sicily and Constantinople through the sea route[2]. 2] Indeed, the monastery of Saint Elias is listed in a Norman diploma of 1147, together with those of s. Fantino, s. Giovanni di Laura, s. Pangrazia and s. Elias. Giovanni di Laura, s. Pangrazio and s. Luca, as these monasteries were granted customs concessions and their ships were not subject to 'landing rights'.

According to the studies carried out by researchers from CAST in Bari, who identified the monastery on the Piani della Corona in Madonna della Neve, the closest landing place to the monastery is found on the beaches below, one of which is called "Cala Leone"[3].

The research, in which the writer participated, ascertains that the name of the plateau can be traced back to the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI known as "The Wise" of Constantinople, benefactor of the Monastery, with whom the monk Elias had close relations after the miraculous healing of the Emperor himself...

The geographical identification of the monastery called the "Imperial Monastery", which was built at the behest of the Emperor, is also supported on the basis of a comparison of historical sources: Le "Liber Visitationis" d'Athanase Chalkéopoulos (1457-1458). Contribution à l'histoire du monachisme grec en Italie méridionale, Vatican City 1960, which attests to the existence of a Byzantine monastic complex of great splendour located in a maritime area. "The existence and importance of the Chiesa della Corona is also confirmed by the continuous struggles that opposed the abbeys of S. Eufemia and Bagnara for the defence of their respective prerogatives of their possessions.

[1] Thesis of Domenico Bagala, Doctorate hc in Ancient History, Coord. San Fantino Cultural Movement of Palmi

2] Le "Liber Visitationis" d'Athanase Chalkéopoulos (1457-1458). Contribution à l'histoire du monachisme grec en Italie méridionale, Vatican City 1960.

[3] The term "Cala" is from 1600, of Spanish origin, in a document of the 12th century from the Seville archives, the term Παραλία Λεόνε appears, that is "Spiaggetta Leone" / Serge Collet "Etnoarcheologia di una eparchia marittima nel sud della Calabria" - Hamburg-Bari-Paris 1991".

Image: Saints Elia di Enna and Filarete


After Syracuse also fell to the Arabs in 878, Elias returned to the island, where he met his elderly mother in Palermo and his new disciple Daniel in Taormina. Going back north, Elijah stayed in Calabria, where he founded in 884, in the Vallis Salinarum (Valley of the Salt Pans), two kilometres north-east of Seminara, the first Sicilian monastic colony in Calabria, a monastery later named after him. The Arab invasions forced Elias to take refuge first in Greece, in Patras, and then in the mountains of Aspromonte, in Santa Cristina.

Elijah was already a well-known monk when he went on a pilgrimage to Rome. The vicissitudes, miracles and vast work of evangelisation that Elijah had carried out on three continents extended his fame to Constantinople, where the Byzantine emperor Leo VI, known as the Philosopher, invited him to stay. However, Elijah, now over seventy years of age, had begun his journey to Constantinople and when he arrived in Thessalonica (modern-day Thessaloniki in Greece), sensing the hour of his death, he called Daniel to him and expressed the wish that his body be transported to the monastery of Seminara.

The coffin was transported from Thessaloniki to the port of Tauriana[4] and waiting for him were the spiritual sons of the saint, the monks of his monastery near Seminara[4] The most faithful friend and companion, the monk Daniele, had Elijah buried in the monastery of Seminara, which the saint had founded.

[4] Domenico Minuto, La Valle delle Saline, in Polis. Studi interdisciplinari sul mondo antico, no. 2, 2006, pp. 323-328, ISBN 88-8265-415-X.

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