Capo Rizzuto Marine Protected Area covers an area of about 14,721 hectares and extends itself for 40 kms of coast. The Protected Marine Area consists of eight promontories: the first one is that of Capocolonna, with the temple dedicated to the goddess Hera Lacinia, while the last one is Le Castella. It is a stretch of Mediterranean Sea characterized by the variety of natural environments and by the particular geomorphology of the coast. In 1982 this area, which is considered of particular environmental interest, was placed among the 21 protected areas or reserves to be created in Italy. And finally, on 27th December 1991 Capo Rizzuto Marine Protected Area has been established: from Capo Colonna to Barco Vercillo, it is divided into "zone A" - which is completely dedicated to the reserve - and "zone B", whose limits are much larger.
A fragment of rocky coast which formed in remote times preserves an untouched Mediterranean maquis: the hinterland is dominated by a thick pinewood with lentisk, thyme, iceplant, myrtle, caper tree, tamarisk, broom, and juniper. It is the great variety of the sea bottom which makes the Marine Reserve a unique environment from a naturalistic point of view, an environment which is necessary to protect and preserve, with its widespread grasslands of Posidonia Oceanica, the madreporic reefs of Cladocora Caespitosa, the Diplodus vulgaris, and the Euscarus Cretensis. There are a number of fish species which find shelter and food here: groupers, barracudas, little tunnies, and sometimes dolphins.
It is already since a few years that the survey activity establishing the degree of sea pollution in the Reserve gives comforting results: all the species live undisturbed and free to reproduce themselves in peaceful habitats.
Besides the main aspect of environmental preservation, the Marine Protected Area highlights the need to protect the economic development of the territory on the marine protected area, which must be a sustainable development. With the aim to promote the knowledge of the Marine Protected Area, the Park Authority provides the visitors with particularly attracting services: trips on boats with transparent bottom to give the opportunity to those who do not dive to observe wonderful places under the sea; the aquarium, where specimens of the marine species which can be found in the Protected Marine Area are displayed; and the welcome centers in Crotone and Le Castella, where the visitor can look at photographic displays and receive specialized publications. Moreover, it is possible to carry out sailing boat trips and tourism&fishing activities.
The main aim of Capo Rizzuto Marine Protected Area is to make possible the fruition of a marvellous but delicate reality, not only to deliver it untouched to future generations, but also because it can represent one of the greatest resources for the territory - also from an economic point of view.
You can take pictures of anything beautiful and spectacular surrounding the reserve and living in it; but it is only a preview: the real charm is to admire these creatures live.
Capo Rizzuto Marine Protected Area represents the continuation of the easternmost part of Calabria - more precisely of the area known as "Marchesato" - into the waters of the Ionian Sea.
The hinterland consists of a gentle hilly system extending from the slopes of Sila to the sea, whose height rarely goes over 300 meters above sea level. The watercourses are relatively few and are characterized by limited water basins which are not linked to the hydrographic system which, originating from the Sila, delimits the area of Marchesato with the two watercourses Neto and Tacina, respectively in the north and in the west.
The coast of Capo Rizzuto Marine Protected Area has been settled by man since ancient times and the most important civilizations of the past alternated in the area. The Acheans from Miskellos settled here when, around the half of the 7th century BC, they landed on the coast and founded the ancient Kroton. There are several evidences of the history in this places: from Crotone to Capo Colonna to Le Castella.
The geographical position has been favorable for Calabria at the beginning of its history, when, over two thousand years ago, the Greek dominated the trade in the Mediterranean Sea; afterwards, the region mainly became land of conquest. As a matter of fact, unlike other maritime regions like Liguria, Calabria was never able to take advantage from its sea: this is confirmed by the fact that four out of its five capitals of province are situated in the hinterland.