There are jazz festivals all over the world but did you know that one of them takes place in the beautiful town of Roccella Jonica in Calabria? The town has about 6,000 inhabitants and is located on the Jasmine Coast of Calabria. The nearest airport is Lamezia Terme about 1 hour and 30 minutes by car. There is also an airport bus from the Airport to Roccella Jonica.
The jazz festival period
There are a few hotels and plenty of B&Bs in this town. The festival usually lasts about 10 days. The dates vary so it is always best to check this before you plan anything. Typically, the dates can be from 21 to 31 Aug. Many performers, musicians and composers come from all parts of Italy and all over the world to take part in this wonderful festival. The first festival was in 1981. They have just celebrated their 40th edition.
Some of the venues they use are inside ancient historic buildings full of character, some with high vaulted ceilings. The price of a ticket can be as little as 10 euro. I remember one particular performance inside a historic building, which often holds events. A talented musician played the cello all throughout the evening.
The acoustics were incredible. Everyone listened in amazement. No one left the venue until the very end of the performance. The sound of the cello coupled with the characteristic building created such an atmosphere. The price of this ticket was only 5 euro.
The jazz venues
Every evening and some afternoons you will be able to see a performance. These jazz venues are all over the town, some indoors and most outdoors. The ones outside are truly magical. My favourite one is in the gardens close to the seafront in front of the Greek columns.
Symbol of the Magna Grecian period. Most of these outdoor venues are free of charge. It is such a spectacular setting watching one of those spectacles, close to Roccella’s blue flag beach, In fact, it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Calabria. The atmosphere is wonderful during the jazz festival as People gather around the musicians and do not leave until the end, perhaps mesmerised by the sound of their music.
Some other performances are held in the Carafa palace. situated 104 metres above sea level. It once belonged to the Carafa noble family. Read more here about this palace. It is open in the evenings.
The jazz delights
You may be lucky to see a performance in this prestigious building with the most wonderful views of the Jasmine Coast. During the summer months, a tourist train goes up there several times a day. You can also visit the palace as well as attend concerts. Many special events are held in this palace throughout the year.
Not far from the theatre, there is another wonderful venue in the form of an amphitheatre. Many theatre shows and concerts are held here. It is a huge open-air space with plenty of stone seating, Watching a show in this venue is a real experience, especially on a starry night. Many shops stay open until late as well as the numerous bars all around the town.
Numerous stalls sell street food so you can eat while watching open-air spectacles. If on the other hand, you prefer to eat in a restaurant, there are plenty of them, especially on the seafront. They are famous for their fresh fish such as cod, swordfish and stuffed squid rolls.
The illuminated palace from the square
Roccella Jonica boasts a beautiful square where you can sit at the many pavement cafes and look up at the illuminated palace, especially in the evening. There are plenty of walks near Pizzofalcone’s defense tower. Read more about the walks here.
Sitting in the elegant square, you will be able to see the tower and hear the music from the different venues and bars. It is a wonderful atmosphere as the streets are full of people enjoying the summer evenings. Roccella Jonica is also a good base to explore the famous Archaeological site of Locri and the medieval town of Gerace.
The Tarantella festival of Caulonia
You can also visit nearby towns such as Caulonia, Riace and Gioiosa Marina. Why not combine the jazz festival of Roccella Jonica with the most amazing Tarantella festival in Caulonia. This festival lasts for about 4 days. You can read more here about it. Calabria is famous for its concerts. There is usually a famous Italian singer who comes to perform in the main square of the town.
This is usually free of charge. Some of the well-known singers may charge a small fee. You can come to Roccella Jonica at any time of the year and you will always find something going on. Many events in the winter are held inside these historical buildings.
Others are outside, usually in the main square. The Christmas period and Easter is also a great time to visit the town not forgetting that it is a beach resort in the summer with many summer events and concerts.
Excursions in Roccella Jonica
Car hire is recommended. You can also go on excursions if you do not want to drive. Make sure you visit the pretty port of Roccella Jonica. You can also go on an organised boat trip from there and see the palace and town from the sea. It is definitely recommended.
See more here. You can go scuba diving in Riace and admire underwater treasures from the Magna Grecian period. It was in this very spot where they discovered the world-wide famous bronze warriors in 1972. They are now kept in the Archaeological Museum in Reggio Calabria (about 1 hour drive).
There is plenty to do in this town and its surrounding areas. People come from all over the world to visit Roccella, especially its jazz festival. It is a popular time to come so I recommend booking well in advance. If you cannot find accommodation in Roccella, perhaps you could stay in the nearby town of Caulonia.
You can use my travel resources here to get around. You can also visit Sicily from here. The main ferry port Villa San Giovanni to Messina in Sicily is approx. 1 hour from Roccella Jonica and 20 minutes on the ferry. Read more about Messina here.