Amantea ranks high on a list of Calabria’s prettiest towns. It is also one of the region’s most historically fascinating and most unique.
However, long before the Romans and even the Greeks, Amantea has served as an important ground, as far as human history is concerned. Dozens of Bronze and Iron age art i facts have been located in and around the mouth of the river Savuto, which opens to the sea, nearby Amantea’s port.
The Bruzi , Calabria’s native people, a tribe of warriors (still legendary throughout Calabria) are said to have kept out the Greek occupation for decades, hence the lack of Greek architecture in Amantea, unlike in almost every other Calabrese village. However, the Bruzi, were unable to hold off the Romans, who are said to have wiped the group and any lasting legacy.
The Romans used 300 KM of land surrounding Amantea as an Ager – for the specific purpose of sending produce to use Imperial Rome. Not surprisingly, in order to transport the produce to its final destination, a large port was created, putting Amantea on the map in terms of important Roman ports of call.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, present-day Calabria was divided into two parts: Longobardian and Byzantine. The border between these two new nations, became Amantea itself, controlled by the Byzantines, who built a strong castle to safeguard this border. The castle is still prominent on the hills above the town, looking at the coast in either direction. However, like the Roman’s, Byzantium was unable to maintain power over all its colonies, and in 839 Amantea fell to the Arabs, who created an Emirato , a state around the city.
The city’s name Amantea is of Arabic origin, coming from Al Mantiah, meaning strong hold. The Arabic presence here, has been strong and lasting (even if not constant).
In modern day Amantea, the city is essentially divided into two sections. The historical center, located on the hill above the new city, where shops, restaurants and piazzas line a main boulevard. It’s a friendly town and tourists should find no problem in finding their way around here.