the Chiesetta di Piedigrotta, a bizarre cave-chapel

Italia | Calabria

Pizzo, sometimes called Pizzo Calabro, is a seaside town in Calabria, southern Italy. The historic heart of the town is on a headland above the sea; newer settlements spread along the seashore in either direction. There are beaches nearby and Pizzo is both a busy local town and a holiday destination. It makes a good day out from Tropea, a more famous tourist resort further along the Costa degli Dei (Coast of the Gods). Pizzo has two main tourist attractions: the Chiesetta di Piedigrotta, a bizarre cave-chapel on the shore, and the renowned tartufo di Pizzo, a chocolate truffle ice cream. It also has a historic castle and a pleasant town centre where there is a tourist information office in Piazza della Repubblica, the main square. The Chiesetta di Piedigrotta is just outside Pizzo; a fifteen-minute walk along the road leading out of town along the coast to the north-east. The church is down a flight of steps; tickets are for sale at a bar over the road. The church dates back to the seventeenth century and is a cave dug out of a soft rock in a bank facing right out to sea, and was originally created in gratitude by shipwrecked sailors who'd been saved from a storm. The interior is ornamented with statues carved enthusiastically from the rock by a local family in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is hard to decide whether the chapel is a devoutly kitsch curiosity or a tourist trap. Still, it is definitely worth seeing if you are in Pizzo. According to local tourist publicity, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Calabria, rivalling the Riace Bronzes in Reggio di Calabria's archaeological museum.

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