Legend has it that Scilla was founded by Odysseus when he had to come ashore here on his way back from the Trojan wars. Later the town was fortified by Anassillao to protect it against Estruscan attacks. During Roman times Spartacus came here and defended himself against Marco Crassus, who besieged the town and dug a deep moat around the city wall.
In Greek mythology, Scylla (meaning the one who destroys) and the whirlpool Charybdis (the one who sucks) were two sea monsters, who lived in two grottos on either side of the Messina strait. Scylla was originally – according to myth – a nymph with whom Glauco fell in love. Glauco asked the witch Circe to give a love potion to Scylla. Instead the witch gave her an elixir that changed her into a monster.
Scylla and Charybdis, both located on the Sicilian side, were personifications of the strong sea currents and winds that represented a serious danger to ships sailing past this part of the coast, which is full of small bays and rocks.
Today Scilla is a delightful fishing village with around 5,000 permanent inhabitants. In summer many people choose to stay here and enjoy the lovely beaches and the views of Sicily and, weather permitting, the Aeolian islands with their active volcanoes.
The castle Principi Ruffo is definitely worth a visit. It was built during the Norman rule in the 11th century. The castle sits on the top of a granite cliff, 50 m above sea level. The cliff was fortified in the 5th century BC because of its strategic location. Between the 9th and 11th centuries Basilican monks built a church and a monastery on the western side of the cliff.
The town was conquered by the Normans in 1060 and from then on it had many rulers, as did the rest of the area. However, the Basilican monks kept the place and their privileges up till 1424 when they left Scilla. In 1533 the castle came under the Ruffo family’s control. They rebuilt and enlarged it and extended the fortifications of the cliff even further.
The French conquered it in 1806 and a few decades later, when the Italian national hero Garibaldi landed in town from Sicily, the Italian flag flew from the castle. The castle has been under the control of the Italian navy since the beginning of the 20th century. Visits are possible if arranged in advance.