Cassano allo Ionio, Italy: popular coastal resort and interesting town in Calabria

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Cassano allo Ionio: a famous seaside resort with a distinguished Heritage

Cassano allo Ionio is a medium sized town - now best known as a coastal resort - in the Calabria region of southern Italy near the ancient city of Sybaris.

In recent years Cassano Ionio has attracted the attention of historians and scholars. The town has an urban plan that is crossed by roads that intersect at right angles and branch out into narrow alleys, enclosed by walls that are ancient and of which virtually nothing remains.

Within the town itself there are many places of worship, among them the Cathedral (dating back to the 12th century in its first plan) and numerous aristocratic palaces, while outside the town walls there is a sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna della Catena, characterized by an imposing Renaissance portico, which surrounds the church on three sides, which is built the site of an existing building of the 10th-11th centuries.

Explore Cassano allo Ionio

The ruins of the Castle date back to the Middle Ages and was possibly built during the Lombard domination. Under the domination of Otto I, Otto II (955-983) and, subsequently, of Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250) the Castle was beautified and Charles of Anjou (1226-1285) also ordered new repair works in 1268; In 1598 it passed to the Princes of Sanseverino and then to Duke Serra di Cassano who started new restoration works in 1678.

Cathedral of Cassano alla Ionio

The Cathedral of Cassano alla Ionio, dedicated to the Virgin, is located in Piazza Sant'Eusebio. The façade was built in Baroque style and is split into two tiers, decorated with stone and stucco decorations. In the nave, on the left is the altar of the "Madonna del Lauro" where there is an ancient image painted on stone dating back to the 14th century.

The high altar is made of precious polychrome marbles, with a silver lid with the symbolic figure of Pelican, and surmounted by a cross and candlesticks in gilded bronze; the altar is then completed by a large marble decoration by Agostino Fortunato (18th century). In front is the Episcopal throne, in colored marbles. The floor is also made of marble slabs. Also in the cathedral is a painting depicting "The embrace of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic".

The most interesting part of the Cathedral is perhaps the crypt, which dates back to Norman times: it is situated beneath the Cathedral and is the oldest place of worship in the city. Inside there are a wooden crucifix from the 15th century and 16th century frescoes depicting Santa Lucia and San Biagio.

Other highlights

One well known landmark in Cassano allo Ionio is the Fountain of the Lions, in the square dedicated to Sant'Eusebio by Cassano, in front of the Cathedral.

Among the historic palaces of the Old Town, in Piazza Saint Eusebius the Bishop's Palace stands out, of late-Renaissance style; also the Paterno, Viafora and Nola Palaces are other exceptional examples of architecture and decorative arts in the province of Cosenza.

Outside the town we find the sanctuary of “Santa Maria della Catena,” dating from the 17th century and located in an inaccessible and quiet area. The portico and dome are of the Renaissance style: the external architecture consists of a portico, with five round arches on the main facade. Inside, the Baroque main altar, in gilded wood carvings, is arranged with four paintings of the Neapolitan painter Nicola Malinconico (1663-1721).

Other local attractions

The waters of Cassano Ionio are also well known and come from five sources that flow side by side for about 500 metres. They have possessed their particular characteristics since Antiquity: the sulphur waters are used for treating throat and respiratory diseases, along with gynecological, rheumatic and dermatological troubles. The Cassano allo Ionio Spa is a modern building equipped with all amenities such as mud therapy and massage room, an open-air auditorium, and leisure facilities.

No visit would be complete without seeing the archaeological excavations of the ancient Sybaris. The treasures (terracotta reliefs, metal materials coming from Sibari and Francavilla Marittima) are preserved and on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Sibaritide in Cassano Ionio.

Also to visit in the immediate vicinity of the town are the caves of Sant Angelo, located near Mount San Marco and overlooking the village, with numerous cavities which have been the subject of major studies to help reconstruct the prehistory of Calabria.

Other natural riches nearby include the Collina di Monte, the lakes of Sybaris, and of course the beach - Cassano allo Ionio is a famous and important seaside resort, with bathing areas along its coastline equipped with kiosks, bars and cafes which overlook the dense pine forest.

See also history of Cassano Ionio. Note: photo is copyright.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Calabria guide.

See also:

Map of Cassano allo Ionio and places to visit

Places to visit near Cassano allo Ionio

Castrovillari

Castrovillari

The Sanctuary and the Castle are among the sites of interest in Castrovillari, and the nearby Pollino National Park

Castrovillari guide

Sybaris

Sybaris

Enjoy the ancient ruins at Sybaris then explore the medieval town of Terranova da Sibari

Sybaris guide

Santa Maria del Cedro

Santa Maria del Cedro

Both the town itself and the Archaeological Park of Laos are highlights when you visit Santa Maria del Cedro

Santa Maria del Cedro guide

Castiglione Cosentino

Castiglione Cosentino

Despite several earthquakes the hill town of Castiglione Cosentino has several interesting churches to visit

Castiglione Cosentino guide

Rivello

Rivello

Rivello is a charming medieval village with a good number of notable monuments

Rivello guide