Calabria’s Ionian coast is a mainly flat sandy strip, sometimes monotonous but less developed than the Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula, and generally with cleaner seawater. At the border with Basilicata, mountainous slopes soon give way to the wide Piana di Sibari, the most extensive of the Calabrian coastal plains, bounded by Pollino to the north, the Sila Greca to the west and the Sila Grande in the south. The rivers flowing off these mountains, which for centuries kept the land well watered and rich, also helped to transform it into a stagnant, malarial mire, and although land reclamation has restored the area’s fertility, without visiting the museum and excavations at Sybaris you could pass through the area with no inkling of the civilization that once flourished on these shores. Southeast of here, the old Byzantine centre of Rossano and Crotone, another ancient Greek city, provide further interest as you travel along the coastline.
The southern part of Calabria’s Ionian seaboard is less developed than the rest of the region and less scenic, with a string of mostly unappealing seaside towns and villages. If you like sandy beaches, though, this is where to find them – either wild and unpopulated or, if you prefer, glitzy and brochure-style, as at Soverato. At Locri there’s the region’s best collection of Greek ruins and, overlooking the coast a short way inland, the craggy medieval strongholds of Squillace and Gerace.