According to legend, Scylla was a sea monster who guarded the Straits of Messina and terrorised Odysseus/Ulysses as he sailed by. The fishing town of Scilla takes its name (pronounced Sheella) and was a strategically important location for hundreds of years. The town is wedged on the waterfront between the sea and the cliffs, with just a narrow beach separating the houses from the water.
On a rocky outcrop stands Scilla's fortress, a walled structure built on the foundations of earlier ancient defensive fortifications. The current castle building has had a variety of different uses, including as a fortress, a private residence, a lighthouse and a youth hostel.
To the east of Scilla headland is the ancient, original fishermen's settlement, called Chianalea, where houses are perched tightly together, fighting for space between the sea and the cliffs. There is no beach, so the sea laps against the walls of the buildings and small fishing boats pull up into tiny moorings between or underneath the houses. Some of the waterfront houses are now restaurants, with terraces built out over the water. Here you can enjoy a drink or taste a dish of locally caught swordfish, the speciality of Scilla. The fishermen in Scilla use a special watchtower on the boats where experienced lookouts spot schools of swordfish.