Praia a Mare, Province of Cosenza, Calabria
Located along the Policastro Gulf opposite the Dino island, in the mountains amid plantations of cedar-trees and other Mediterranean vegetation, Praia is among the main seaside resorts in Calabria.
- Population: about 6,600 inhabitants in 2017
- Zip/postal code: 87028
- Dialing Area Code: +39 0985
- Demonym: praiesi
- Patron Saint: Santa Maria della Grotta, celebrated on 15 August
- Frazioni & Localities: Colcinello, Foresta, Fortino, Fiuzzi, Laccata, Mantinera, Santo Stefano, Saracinello, Viscigliosa, Zaparia, Isola di Dino.
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The name was repeatedly changed in the past from the original Praia degli Schiavi, a colony of Slavic refugees in the 15th century, then became in the 19th century Praia d'Aieta, and Praia a Mare in 1928.
What to see
- The Sanctuary of "Madonna della Grotta", inside a cave where the human presence was recorded since the late Paleolithic. The natural balconies outside the cave offer an amazing view of the Thyrrhenian coast. A legend tells that a mariner left on the site a small statue of the Virgin Mary, with the intention to get it back once he would be safely returned from his sea voyages, but when he finally came back, he found that the population had made a sanctuary for the statue, so decided to leave it here forever.
- Dino Island, with beautiful grottos which can be reached by boat; among the grottos are the Grotta Azzurra, for the color of its waters and walls, and the Grotta del Leone, which takes its name from a rock in the form of a lion.
- 15 km in the hinterland, the "Argentino River Natural Reserve", with forests of tall pine trees, rising to Monte Palamuda (1632 mt) which is included in the Pollino National Park.