27 July 2021.
Famed for a particularly indulgent dessert, offering a tangle of charming streets to explore and surrounded by plenty of pretty beaches, Pizzo makes a wonderful stop along the rugged Calabrian coast.
Learn the history of the town at the castle and churches, take in the lovely coastal views from the balconies, enjoy the sun-drenched piazza and get one heck of a sugar rush with the region’s favourite sweet treat.
Located just 30 minutes from Tropea, Pizzo is best enjoyed as a laidback day trip with enough to occupy visitors for the entire day, as well as making a great stopover destination along the coast or when heading to or from the airport. In this short guide, you’ll discover the best things to do in Pizzo, along with where to eat and park in town.
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Indulge On Il Tartufo | Have a bit of a sweet tooth? You won’t want to miss this rich ball of indulgence!
Il Tartufo is a speciality here in Pizzo and is traditionally made with two flavours of ice cream and an oozy melted filling. While historically Tartufo was made from chocolate and hazelnut gelato with a dark chocolate sauce centre, you’ll also find options like pistachio, lemon and strawberry to satiate your palate. Bar Gelateria Ercole located in the central piazza is the best place to try a bite and portions are big enough to share between two.
Tour The Churches | Pizzo is home to a handful of churches that lie tucked away in its maze of tiny streets. Most impressive is Santuario San Francesco Di Paola on the edge of the old town which has a gleaming white facade and stands beside a balcony that offers fantastic ocean views.
Stroll The Marina | While the piazzas and laneways of Pizzo’s upper level hum with activity, follow the steep hill down toward the marina and you’ll find a slower pace along the waterfront. Gaze up at the small town from below, browse the market that springs up along the promenade and breath in the salty sea air.
Visit Castello Murat | Leading off Piazza della Repubblica, this small fortress is best known for serving as the prison for Joachim Murat, the former King of Naples. After the fall of Napoleon in whose army he was a key player, Murat attempted to rally support from the people of Pizzo in order to reclaim Naples. However, to his surprise, the crowd turned hostile and he was eventually imprisoned in the castle dungeons and later executed for treason.
After exploring the castle chambers, don’t miss the wonderful rooftop views that overlook the coastline.
Chiesa di Piedigrotta | Tucked within the rocky seafront a short way from town, Chiesa di Piedigrotta is marked by a chapel hewn into the rock that plays host to a collection of statues. Unfortunately, the site was closed for maintenance during our visit, but it definitely sounds like a curious stop on your visit to Pizzo. Opening times do vary though so be sure to check here before arrival.
Entry for Castello Murat and Chiesa di Piedigrotta is €3 each, or you can buy a combo ticket for €4.50 which allows entry to both.
While I chose to use Tropea as a base for my trip in Calabria (see the full Tropea guide here), if you’d prefer to stay in Pizzo, you’ll still find a number of decent options.
Asterias Residence | One of Pizzo’s most popular choices, Asterias is a family-run guesthouse just a short walk from the beach and historical centre. Several studio apartments are on offer with a sunny outdoor terrace and bar area. Check rates and availability here.
B&B Casa Angelieri | This vast white-washed Italian villa draped in bougainvillea with terracotta and stonework trimmings seems a lovely spot to while away your days on the Calabrian Coast. Tucked away on the edge of the old town, rooms are fairly traditional with the leafy open-air courtyard and spectacular ocean views acting as big draws. Wifi here reportedly isn’t great. Check rates and accommodation here.
Pizzo Central House | Bright, simple rooms trimmed in pastel tones offer beach house vibes in the heart of town. The open-air terrace offers beautiful views over Pizzo’s sea of terracotta rooftops. Check rates and availability here.
Bar Gelateria Artigianale Ercole | You’ll find the delectably sweet Tartufo on offer at many establishments around Pizzo, but Ercole is the original gelateria having served the stuff since 1965. They’re also rumoured to be the best and, while I didn’t manage to try every spot in town, I’m happy to confirm their classic chocolate and hazelnut Tarfufo was pretty darn delicious. Located right on Piazza della Repubblica, it’s also a great place to pull up a chair in the sun and watch the happenings of this little town unfold.
Ristorante Hedo | Once again, in the dead of winter, it was somewhat challenging finding many restaurants open in this part of Calabria, however, we were very happy to stumble upon this lovely restaurant down a tiny side street.
After a morning of exploring we enjoyed a divine selection of pasta and wine for lunch here with a wonderfully cosy, family feel at reasonable prices. Highly recommended!
On a sunny weekend, Pizzo will be busy at any time of year so I’d recommend arriving early in the day if you’re aiming to secure a decent (and free) parking space.
If you’re visiting on a day trip from Tropea (read about the best things to do in Tropea here!), it’s just a 30-minute drive along the SS522 which takes you straight through the centre of town.
This free parking area (see here) on the far side of Pizzo is the best option or, alternatively, you can also park near Chiesa di Piedigrotta which is a 15-minute walk from the centro storico along the road.