Three of my Favorite Calabrian Villages

Calabria Travel San Fili 3 180x130 Three of my Favorite Calabrian Villages

So you want to visit Calabria? Great … I think everyone should. But where do you want to go? What do you want to see? What do you want to experience? If you are Calabrese, chances are you’ll stop by your ancestral villages … maybe you’ll want to see some of the highlights or visit some of the area’s medieval towns. But then what?

If you need a little help narrowing it down, you might want a custom itinerary or some in-depth travel consulting, but if finances don’t allow or you’re one of those travelers who wants to research her own trip, then keep on reading.

As you can imagine, narrowing down my favorite mountain villages to just three was not an easy task. Still, these three made the cut for their authentic feel, cleanliness and friendly locals, so without delay, here are three of my all-time favorite mountain villages in bella Calabria.

Civita (CS)

DSC09100 e1296061929826 Three of my Favorite Calabrian Villages

Civita (pronounced cee-VEE-ta) houses the largest Albanian community in the region. Travelers flock to this pint-sized town for a glimpse of Albanian culture, where locals still speak-and teach to their children through the local school system-their native language and where indigenous costumes and traditions are carried on through festivals and celebrations. In addition to the unique heritage of Civita, the town is also home to the Ragnanello Gorge, the deepest gorge in Europe and the Devil’s Bridge, which is easily seen from the Belvedere lookout point on the edge of town.

Cortale (CS)

Calabria Travel Cortale 225x300 Three of my Favorite Calabrian Villages

Cortale (pronounced CORE tall ee) is a little closer to my adopted hometown of Catanzaro and was one of the first mountain villages I fell in love with when I started visiting the area in the early 2000s.

Home to about 2,000 people, Cortale is large enough to have an active main street and busy piazza, but still offers that small, tight-knit community you’d expect in a Calabrese village.

Several of our B&B guests have had origins in Cortale and like me, they enjoy strolling through the town, breathing the clean, fresh mountain air and visiting the Calabria water source just north of town in nearby Monte Covello.

The village also has some amazing views of the mountains and valleys below …

… and who doesn’t love a good view now and then?
 
San Fili (CS)

Calabria Travel San Fili Thumbnail Three of my Favorite Calabrian Villages

I’ve written before about San Fili, (pronounced Sayn FEE Lee) my mother-in-law’s pint-sized village that is located near Cosenza in northern Calabria. In fact, we have a small house there (see “For Sale: San Fili” below), one that sadly is badly in need of repair and thus, limits the time we can spend there.

Still, this village, like Civita and Cortale features that fresh, clean mountain air and offers travelers a glimpse into the traditional Calabrese lifestyle. In addition to the Chiesa Madre church, visitors should plan time to stroll through the main street, have coffee in the main piazza and relax on any of the broad, open terraces that surround the village.

Are you heading to Calabria or southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help you plan your itinerary.

Photo: My Bella Vita, My Bella Vita, Panoramio, My Bella Vita

THE CHEAP SEATS; The Megabus, catching on as a low-cost way to travel, was an economical, if not always relaxing, ride to Chicago and back.(BUSINESS)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) August 1, 2008 | Carew, Emma L.

Byline: EMMA L. CAREW; STAFF WRITER As I waited to board the Megabus for a red-eye trip from Minneapolis to Chicago the other day, I couldn’t help but flash back to my dreaded marching band tour in high school: 40 hours on a coach bus from Minnesota to San Diego.

Passengers crowded like sardines into printed blue seats, trying to shield themselves from the too-cold air conditioning blowing from the vents. I waited by a parking garage on the University of Minnesota campus for about 20 minutes before my bus came. The wait was pleasant enough on a cool July night, but I imagined what a similar wait would be like on a snowy, windy day in February. here megabus promotion code

When the bus pulled up it was mostly full, having picked up most of its passengers at the 4th Street stop in the Warehouse District. The Megabus-ers made up a mosaic of the cities: young, old, white, black, families, couples, all part of a growing population opting for budget travel in times of skyrocketing fuel costs. Flights to Chicago can run more than $500 on Expedia.com. And gas for my 1988 Volvo wagon would be about $100 each way.

Atop that was the added risk in driving a 20-year-old-car more than 800 miles. Cost for my Megabus ticket: $15 to Chicagoland, $30 for the ride back. My cheap outbound seat was for the Tuesday red-eye bus (10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.), the other for the Sunday afternoon return — a peak travel time.

Dale Moser, president of Coach USA/Megabus.com, said ridership has increased right along with rising fuel costs and airline ticket prices. June 2008 ticket sales were up one-third over 2007 for the Minneapolis route, he said.

Just 56,000 people rode the Megabus to and from Minneapolis in 2006 when the service began, Moser said. Last year, 125,000 rode the bus, and 75,000 have ridden so far this year. Since Megabus opened its Minneapolis route, gasoline prices have increased 57 percent, but ticket prices on Megabus.com remained fixed. Moser said the top fares have remained a bargain, and the company still reserves some $1 seats on every bus.

And Megabus has no plans to add fuel surcharges or baggage fees as have the airlines. “We’re growing at such a fast pace that (it) is well outdistancing the additional cost of fuel,” Moser said.

Some tolerance required The Megabus certainly has its ups and downs. The noises and reading lights were easy enough to block out with the aid of headphones, earplugs and a silk eye pillow. But as Jean Paul Sartre said in his play “No Exit,” “Hell is other people.” The bus offers no way to escape from the intrusive smells of other passengers: the floral scented hand cream, a last cigarette, a late-night deep-fried snack and its unfortunate aftereffects. But those irritants faded quickly and the jostle of traveling put me to sleep about half an hour into the trip. I wasn’t so lucky on the trip back. The daylight kept me awake, so there was no escaping the irritation of city gridlock, which stalled the trip by more than an hour. On the up side, I had the companionship of several friends from the journalism convention I had attended. In Madison, Wis., we let off about a third of the passengers, so we all had some room to spread out. But that was little comfort on the long, boring drive through Wisconsin farmland.

The buses I rode were full to capacity when they left their origination points, as they are on about 90 percent of the routes, according to Moser. He said Megabus.com serves three main groups: college students and young professionals, middle-age women and retirees. The Sunday passengers resembled those demographics more than my Tuesday trip, which included more families. here megabus promotion code

Moser acknowledged a shift in clientele, driven by the tighter economy: “It’s not just gas that’s up, everything’s up.” Megabus uses the newest and most fuel-efficient buses on the road. Double-decker buses offer free videos, and Moser said free Wi-Fi will be offered soon. The Blaupunkt video screen was lost on me, though. I associate the brand with ostentatious, high-end car stereos. I had no desire to watch “The Inside Man” into the wee hours. And, despite the available headphone jacks, I couldn’t escape from the soundtrack, which blared through the bus’ main speakers.

Even so, I was fairly impressed by the Megabus. The bus stops were bare but well lit and seemed safe. The seats were tolerable. And, for less than half a tank of gas, I made it to Chicago and back in one piece. Emma L. Carew – 612-673-7405 Carew, Emma L.

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Comments

  1. Happened upon your site and was pleased your mention of Civita
    It is home to numerous cousins of mine .We had a celebration
    in 2007 commemorating the 100 th year anniversary of my grandfather
    Pietro Vincenzi leaving the town of San Lorenzo Belizzi to come to America . My cousin Giuseppe is an official in the town of Civita and numerous other cousins reside there . We will be returning to Civita and San Lorenzo Belizzi to honor the famillia
    Vincenzi . My uncle don the last of his generation passed away at
    age 93 I will be leading a group of cousins and will return to Civita and San Lorenzo to honor
    the generation that never returned to Italy Ciao George Vincent

    [Reply]

  2. My husband and I are beginning our 37 anniversary trip for four weeks either in June, July, or August to be in Southern Italy. Calabria looks so inviting. We are seasoned travelers and love to drive. My husband really beams when we can rent a small house or “gite” for a week in a beach village. We would really like to know more about your region. We are foodies…loving sea food, dense bread, white wine, and cheese. Yes, we eat everything…not fussy.
    I look forward to learning more from you.
    Thank you,
    Laura

    [Reply]

    paulo Reply:

    Hi Laura,if you do decide to go to calabria try the ionion coast. Towns such as siderno marina, marina di caulonia and soverato are beautiful. You can rent appartments on these coastal modern towns then rent a car and drive up to the ancient mountain villages ie gerace,stilo,caulonia superiore and serra san bruno. Hope this helps.

    Regards
    Paulo
    Western Australia

    [Reply]

  3. My husband and I visited Civita 3yeats ago. It is the ancestral home of my maternal grandmother. I was in awe. It is beautiful. The people are hospitable and warm. I will cherish this trip forever.

    [Reply]

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