Did you know Calabria was the 10th largest region in the Bel Paese? Well it is. With more square kilometers than world-famous Liguria or Campania and just slightly smaller than Rome’s Lazio, Bella Calabria has a lot to offer.
So how can I possibly narrow it down to five?
Well, I can’t.
But I’m gonna try.
Calabria is divided into five provinces-Catanzaro, Cosenza, Reggio di Calabria, Crotone and Vibo Valentia and each of these provinces has a jewel … something special that makes that province unique.
So here we go.
My home province is famous, not only for giving birth to the Paparazzi, but for the Archaeological Park at Roccelletta di Borgia. Located just 10 minutes from my home (and Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast) the ruins at Roccelletta are set in an ancient olive plantation and feature a Greek theater, a Roman square, an amphitheater and other ancient buildings from the last century.
The Province of Cosenza tops my list with fun things to do and see in Calabria but none are as impressive as the Grotta del Romito. Located about 13 kilometers from Papasidero, evidence of the earliest Calabrians, with skeletons dating back 10,000 years, was discovered along with the 12,000 year old “Bos Primigenius” Paleolithic drawing of a bull on a cliff.
The famous Bronzes of Riace statues date back to 5th century BC and are thought to have been buried in the Ionion Sea for more than 2,000 years. Discovered in 1972, they are the main attraction at the Museo Nazionale in Reggio Calabria and are considered to be the most important Greek sculptures in the world.
Located in the hills along the Ionian Coast between Crotone and Sibari, Cirò is home to Calabria’s most famous vineyard. According to local legend, Calabrian athletes drank Cirò wine to celebrate success during the early Olympic games. Today Cirò wine is considered to be one of the most “Greek” Italian wines in the country.
Not quite as famous as neighboring Tropea, Pizzo Calabro is a pint-sized Medieval village with a Baroque church, Aragonese castle-where Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother-in-law was imprisoned-and arguably the best block of gelato in Italy. Pizzo is a must for its quintessential Calabrian life, dramatic views of the St. Eufemia Gulf and its famous hazelnut and chocolate cocoa-covered tartufo ice cream.
Have you been to Calabria? What other must-sees do you think should make the list?