A couple of months ago Katie at TripBase started a Three Best-Kept Travel Secrets meme and it’s been floating around the blogosphere since then. Robin of My Melange tagged me and well, since I love talking about Calabria so dang much, I thought I’d give it a go.
Calabria is, herself, a well-known travel secret, virtually unknown on the international stage and enjoyed mostly by northern Italians, Germans and Calabrian descendants returning to the land of their grandfathers’ births.
Even Calabrian hotspots Tropea, Sila and Reggio’s touristy status is relative. Our coasts are lined with travel secrets that are buried in caves, hiding in medieval villages and peaking out of hidden nooks.
But still … I have my favorites.
Paola is home to Calabria’s patron saint, San Francesco di Paola (Saint Francis of Paola) who founded the Minimi Order in the Roman Catholic Church in the 1400s. For years the village has been a main stop for religious trekkers, who flock to Paola to visit Saint Francis’ birthplace, the monastery and any of the dozens of churches and chiesettas, but this little village really does have it all. In addition to its established place in Calabria’s religious past, Paola has clean, rocky beaches, a Norman castle, fountains and a clock tower.
Pietragrande and Caminia
Ok, so regular readers have heard of Pietragrande and Caminia-and yes, I am kinda cheating here by including them both- but these beaches rival any I’ve seen in the bel paese and thus … are worth mentioning again.
Pietragrande and Caminia are located about 15 minutes from Catanzaro Lido and overlook the Ionian Sea on the Gulf of Squillace. They feature dramatic cliffs and warm blue-green waters that kiss the numerous caves and grottos that dot their coasts. The lack of restaurant options near the beaches adds to their charm and makes visitors feel like they’ve discovered a private slice of Mediterranean. In the summer months, the beaches are filled with locals and nightclubs are open on both beaches.
Any town whose name derives from the Greek word “lover,” can’t be too shabby, and Amantea, located in the province of Cosenza, certainly lives up to its name. In addition to its glistening Tyrrhenian Sea beaches and caves, Amantea’s imposing fortress, an ancient Byzantine castle and nearby monastery are worth a visit.
Since many of the travel bloggers I know have already been tagged, I’m going to put this back on you. What is your favorite “secret” place in southern Italy? You can either leave it in the comments or write a post about it and let me know!