Calabria - Italy's Forgotten Paradise
In the southernmost part of the Italian peninsula, just north Sicily, in what many refer to as the toe of the Italian boot, rests Calabria. An often overlooked region that boasts a rich culture, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and plenty of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy.
Like with almsot all other parts of Italy, the food is a highlight of any trip to the
Calabrian region. The cuisine is known for its simplicity, its emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients, and maybe most famously it's heat. The calabrian chili pepper, or pepperoncino calabrese, is the foundation of much of the regions cuisine. Similar in heat level and flavor profile to a cayenne or serrano pepper, these small red chilis can be found dried, packed in oil, incorporated into sausages like the deliciously spreadable, 'nduja sausage, as a booster for ragu and other pasta sauces, and even as a spicy garnish for chocloates and other pastries.
Due to its proximity to water, Calabria is also known for its seafood dishes, which are made with the freshest fish from the Mediterranean Sea. Some must-try dishes include fried sardines, swordfish rolls, and pasta with sardines.
Calabria has a diverse landscape that ranges from rugged mountains to pristine beaches. The region is home to three national parks, including the Pollino National Park, which is the largest in Italy. The coastline is also a major draw for visitors, with crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. The region is also home to the Sila Mountains, which offer hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities.
Pollino National Park
Calabria has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its architecture, art, and
traditions. The region is known for its traditional folk music, which is often accompanied by the distinctive sound of the zampogna, a type of bagpipe. Visitors can also explore the region's ancient Greek and Roman ruins, including the Archaeological Park of Scolacium and the Greek city of Locri. The region also has a strong religious heritage, with many historic churches and monasteries that are worth a visit.
Best season to visit:
The best time to visit Calabria is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists. Summers in Calabria can be quite hot, and though the beaches can be a major draw during the summer months, the crowds of Italian holiday makers can be overwhelming. Plus, the southern position of the region makes for great beach weather throughout the spring and early fall months. Winter is also a good time to visit for skiing and other winter sports in the Sila Mountains.
Best towns to stay in:
Some of the best towns to stay in Calabria include Tropea, Pizzo, and Scilla. Tropea is a picturesque town with a historic center, stunning beaches, and breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Pizzo is a charming town known for its ice cream and its iconic Tartufo dessert. Scilla is a coastal town with a castle and a picturesque fishing village. You also may consider Reggio Calabria, the coastal city directly across the strait of Messina from Sicily, and known as the exact center of the Mediterranean.
Spiaggia dell'Acromagno / Acromagno Beach