Locri is an ancient Greek settlement (and now also a resort and marina) at the far end of southern Italy, near Gerace and overlooking the Ionian Sea, one of the most beautiful and cleanest of the seas that surround Italy.
It is most visited for the important ancient remains from the Greek town of 'Locris'.
Since Locri is essentially visited because of its historical importance and artefacts it is also useful to spend a moment recalling the history of this ancient town.
More than 2700 years ago, Locri was founded by Dorian colonists in the first half of the 7th century BC. The original name 'Locri Epizefiri' came from Cape Zefirio and was so named because of the strong west wind called the Zephyr. It was a city of considerable importance in Ancient Greece.
Locri was famous even in antiquity because it was the native land of Zeleuco, the first legislator of the whole Hellenic World. There remain some fragments of his 'written laws' (14 fragments in all).
Example of the laws of Zeleuco include: 'the patient who has been drinking wine against the advice of a doctor must be sentenced to death' and 'adulterers should be deprived of both eyes'. So he was quite tough on crime!
During the Second Punic War in 205 BC Locri was conquered by the Romans. Locri was well known for its pottery workshops and its pictures depicting the cycle of Persephone, the divine protector of Locri. Many of these pictures, called 'pinakés, have been found in the Temple of Persephone and for the most part they date from the 5th century B.C.
The ruins of the ancient city are three kilometres from the current town of Locri and consist of some masonry, a Greek necropolis and two temples (the Ionic temple of Marasà and the Doric temple of Marafioti). To reach the site at Locri, and the associated museum, take the road 106 in a southerly direction from Gerace.
On arriving at the site the first place you reach is the Archaeological Museum which contains some extraordinary artifacts. These include a red-figured krater, attributed to the 'Painter from Locri' (4th century BC); a beautiful 'female head' (4th century B.C.); a bronze helmet (3rd century BC) and many other artefacts.
Behind the museum you can see the ruins of the Temple of Masarà, which was built at two different times: the first dating from the 7th century BC, and the second to the fifth century BC. The excavations have revealed, among other things, a wonderful equestrian statue of the 'Dioscures' (Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus) and the statue of a Nereid.
A major discovery here is the so-called Ludovisi Throne (5th century BC), which shows Aphrodite on a bas-relief, the sides decorated with figures of girls, one of whom lays the incense and another sitting on a pillow.
From next to the temple you have an impressive view of the ruins of the mighty fortress walls and of the ancient majestic tower called the Parapizza.
Continuing south through ancient Lerici you can see the ruins of the ancient Theatre of Locri, the 'Cavea' and 'Scene' while to the north-east you find the 'House Marafioti', which is built on the base of a temple dedicated to Zeus (6th-5th century BC). It is here that bronze plates showing aspects of economic life of Locri have been found. A female statue from the second half of the 5th century B.C. and a soldier on horseback supported by a sphinx have also been found in the House Marafioti.
Returning towards the Archaeological Museum you come across some ruins of a thermae (baths) of Roman origin, then continuing to the place called Mannella you can see the Sanctuary of Persephone (second half of the 5th century B.C.), in which about 200 terra-cotta votive offerings have been found, with scenes from the myth of Persephone.
According to the ancient myth Persephone was kidnapped by Hades.
A beautiful statue of Persephone, discovered by chance in Locri, was stolen in the early 20th century and taken to Germany and is now in the Alt Museum in Berlin. Many old coins were also stolen but there remain various examples in the Museum of Archaeology.
Places to visit near Locri
A visit to ancient Locri will take place at the same time as a visit to nearby medieval Gerace, the two together providing an interesting contrast
Map of Locri and places to visit
Locri places to visit
See more places nearby in the Calabria guide