Gerace is a small comune and town in the Calabria region of Italy in the province of Reggio Calabria. The town is located a few kilometers from Locri and Reggio Calabria, on top of a hill which is made from sea fossils and is believed to be formed 60 million years ago. Gerace is spread over an area of 24 sq km and has a population of close to 3000.
It is believed that the region was inhabited since Neolithic times and traces of Sicel have been found from the area. The town was later a site of Roman military. During the 6th century Gerace had become an important town for religious, military and administrative purposes and was known as Santa Ciriaca.
Getting to Gerace
Gerace is located quite close to the city of Reggio Calabria so it is easy to reach the town. Visitors can reach Reggio Calabria easily by train from cities in the region as well from other destinations in Italy. From Reggio Calabria visitors can reach Gerace by buses or by car. The state buses that operate in the region connect the town to Reggio Calabria, Locri and several other towns in the region. Buses depart every few hours from these locations and tickets can be bought at the main bus stations. Those who have their own cars can also drive down to Gerace quite easily.
Moving Around the TownGerace is a very small town with an area of just 24 sq km so the best way to move around is on foot. The main center of the town is very compact and most sight seeing attractions are located in close proximity to the center of the town. Except for the castle and a handful of other sight seeing attractions there aren't many places to visit so they can all be covered within a day. Visitors who have their own cars can also drive around to explore the nearby villages and the outskirts of Gerace.
Attractions in Gerace
The Norman Castle
The main sight seeing attraction in Gerace is the ancient Norman castle. Although the exact time of the construction is not known, it is estimated that the castle must have been built during the Byzantine times around the 10th century. The castle is located at the highest point in the town on top of a cliff. Over the centuries the castle has been renovated and expanded several times and has a several military façade.
The Historic Center
One of the most interesting places to visit in Gerace is the historic center or the medieval town of Gerace. This part of the town has been very well preserved over the centuries and is characterized by very narrow lanes and streets, as is in most parts of Italy. At one point of time there were as many as 128 churches within this small enclosed quarter of Gerace during its peak period. Not many of these churches remain anymore but it is still a fascinating place to visit. There are still plenty of churches in the area and many old houses and villas.
Church of Saint Francis
The Church of Saint Francis was built in Gerace in the 13th century and has been renovated several times over the years. The architecture of the church is quite impressive and the interiors have been beautifully decorated. The main attraction inside the church is the altar. The precious altar has been decorated in true Baroque style.
The Norman Cathedral
One of the most important religious places to visit in Gerace is the Norman Cathedral. The cathedral is the largest in the region. Inside is a single nave and two aisles which are divided by 13 columns which have been bought here from ancient temples in the nearby Locri. The building includes the prison of the Five Martyrs of the town which dates back to the 11th century. The crypt of the cathedral is open for visitors. Within the cathedral is a museum that has interesting information about the cathedral and the town.
Church of Little San Giovannello
The Church of Little San Giovannello or Little St. John is among one of the oldest churches in Gerace. The church had originally been built in the 10th century and has been rebuilt a few times over the century. The interior of the church has been beautifully decorated with precious ornamental decoration.
Church of Santa Maria del Mastro
Among the many churches located in Gerace, the church of Santa Maria del Mastro is also worth visiting. The church had first been built in 1083. What is interesting about the church is that till 1480 it had been of Greek rite. There are several noteworthy factors in the architecture of the building.
Stay and Accommodation
Gerace is quite a small town but it has plenty of accommodation options to choose from. The town does receive its share of tourists from across Italy because of which there are plenty of good hotels, bed & breakfasts, agritourism homes and villas available. Some of the best places to stay in Gerace are Il Giardino di Gerace, La Casa nel Borgo, La Casa di Gianna, Le Contrade, Agritourismo Le Macine, Palazzo Sant'Anna, Bellavista, La Bouganville, La Sparviero and Casa Vacanze II Cavalcavia.
Eating in Gerace
There are several different restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias in Gerace. Because of the rise in tourism in the area in the last couple of years plenty of good options for eating are available. The cuisine available in most restaurants in Gerace is traditional Italian and regional dishes. One of the most well known desserts in Gerace is Rafioli which is a type of sponge cake which is covered with sugar and cream and beaten egg whites are poured over as a dressing.
Shopping in Gerace
There are many places in Gerace where visitors can shop. The best things to purchase from Gerace are desserts, cheese, traditional pastries and wine. There are many food shops in the town where visitors can purchase olive oil.