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Capo Vaticano: the most beautiful beaches on the Costa degli Dei

Located on the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, Capo Vaticano is one of the most fascinating places on the Costa degli Dei. This sharp and majestic promontory stands proudly above the crystal clear waters of the sea, offering breathtaking landscapes and enchanting beaches.

History and origin of the name

The history of Capo Varicano is very ancient and dates back to the era of Magna Graecia when the promontory was known by the name of Taurianum Promontorium. The name “Capo Vaticano” is more recent and derives from the Latin term “Vaticinium” which means “response” since legend has it that, during antiquity, there was an oracle on this promontory. It was precisely this oracle that sailors turned to before crossing the Strait of Messina which was believed to be inhabited by the monsters Scylla and Charybdis.

The strategic importance of the place had made it a center of primary importance for maritime trade. It is precisely in the vicinity of Capo Vaticano that the Greek-Roman port of Forum Herculis (or Portus Herculis) stood, the remains of which are still visible at the Formicoli beach in the municipality of Santa Domenica di Ricadi.

Today, Capo Vaticano has become a highly attractive tourist destination, appreciated for its uncontaminated beauty and its peaceful atmosphere.


The beaches of Capo Vaticano are famous throughout the world for their fine white sand, and for the turquoise waters that are tinged with a thousand shades of blue.

Grotticelle beach

One of the most famous is Grotticelle Beach, which offers an idyllic setting for enjoying the sun and swimming. Characterized by a sharp rock also known as “shark’s fin”, with its clear waters and cliffs overlooking the sea, this beach is much appreciated for its beauty. The name derives from the presence of some natural cavities in the cliffs overlooking the sea which form small caves.

Grotticelle beach in Capo Vaticano

Praia i Focu beach

The Praia i Focu beach is considered one of the most spectacular in Calabria and is undoubtedly the symbol of Capo Vaticano. It is located in a small cove with white sand and a turquoise sea. Its isolated location and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for those looking for a quiet, uncrowded beach. It can only be reached via a long staircase starting from the Capo Vaticano lighthouse or by sea starting from Grotticelle beach (it is possible to rent a pedal boat or be accompanied by a shuttle service).

Santa Maria beach

Santa Maria beach is located in front of the fishing village of the same name, and is the ideal destination for those who want to relax in the peaceful atmosphere and sip a cocktail in one of the many bars with sea views.

Tono Beach

On the north-facing side of the promontory is the Spiaggia del Tono whose name (in Calabrian dialect “tono” means “thunder”) suggests that the sea here is generally rougher than on the beaches located to the south. This is due to the beach’s exposure to the open sea, less protected by the cliffs.

These are just some of the most beautiful beaches that can be found in Capo Vaticano. Each beach has its own unique charm and offers the opportunity to relax and enjoy the crystal clear sea and breathtaking landscape. If you want to move a little towards Tropea you can find other beautiful beaches such as:

  • Torre Marino beach
  • Formicoli beach
  • Riaci Bay

What to do in Capo Vaticano?

The area is full of wildlife and scenic trails that lead to spectacular views. An example is the path that leads to the Capo Vaticano lighthouse, from whose viewpoint you can admire a 360 degree panorama of the coast, Sicily and the Aeolian islands.

The crystal clear waters of Capo Vaticano are ideal for scuba diving. You can explore the seabed, discover the rich marine fauna and admire the fascinating underwater landscapes.

Near Capo Vaticano it is possible to visit the city of Tropea. Here you can visit the medieval historic center, the Church of Santa Maria dell’Isola and enjoy the panoramic view of the beach below.

From Capo Vaticano, you can organize an excursion to the Aeolian Islands, a group of volcanic islands that offer spectacular landscapes and a unique experience. You can visit Stromboli, Vulcano and other islands, go on excursions and admire the natural beauty.

Finally, the restaurants and trattorias in the area offer a variety of traditional dishes, based on fresh fish, Calabrian olives, cheeses and cured meats typical of the region. You cannot visit Calabria without tasting the famous ‘nduja, a typical spicy salami.

How to get to Capo Vaticano?

  • The closest airport is Lamezia Terme Airport. You can take a flight to Lamezia Terme from several Italian or international cities. Once you land, you can rent a car to reach the place, which is about 60 kilometers from the airport.
  • The closest train station is Ricadi, which is located a few kilometers from the town. You can take a train to Ricadi from several Italian cities and then take a taxi or bus to get to Capo Vaticano.

Capo Vaticano is a place that enchants visitors with its natural beauty, its authentic atmosphere and its cultural richness. It is a corner of paradise that still remains uncontaminated by mass tourism, offering an authentic and unforgettable experience. If you are looking for a destination that combines crystal clear sea with uncontaminated nature, this is the ideal place for you.