calabria travel - top 10

I recently purged my list of accepted stumblers over at StumbleUpon and ixnayed three or four self-promoters who had, in less than a month, sent me a combined 100+ articles to “please thumb up.” If you aren’t a stumbler, this might be lost on you, but I mention it today for a reason.

With all of those excess pages a thing of the past, I now have time for the relevant stumbles my friends send and thus, had time to read “Top Ten Reasons that Top 10 Lists Suck,” referred by chum Mike at Fevered Mutterings.

The article … a clever Top 9 list of reasons to hate Top 10 lists says they are lazy, insulting and overdone. And well, i have to say, the article is smack on … some of the time. However, as a traveler I kinda like them, especially when the writer has been there and-more importantly-knows what she’s talking about.

Case in point? Jessica’s Top 10 lists over at Why Go Italy. They are more than a bullet list of guidebook-worthy attractions and, as with most of her writing, they make you want to visit. And so, it is with that inspiration and to prove wrong that I present to you ….

Top 10 Things to Do in Calabria

calabria travel - sersale waterfall

10. Walk around a Waterfall

Although Calabria is most known for its 500 miles of coast, the region is actually more mountainous, which makes it perfect for hiking, trekking and yes, waterfall-watching.

There are three national parks to choose from, all of which have various villages or hideaways with their own little waterfalls, but if you are over here near me-and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you be?-I’d like to show off ours.

Just 45 minutes from our bed and breakfast in Catanzaro, you’ll find a hidden jewel of a village (and yes, I realize that is cliche and I kinda hate myself for typing that right now, but, it’s true. I didn’t even know it existed until a year ago and my husband, who grew up in this area, had never heard of it!)

calabria travel - catanzaro

9. Check out the Artwork in Catanzaro’s Parco Agraria

A little closer to home, the Parco della Biodiversità, or Parco Agraria as we call it, is a 150-acre park that features more than 20,000 plants, two lakes, numerous ponds, a labyrinth, a rare animal section and a grotto for San Francesco di Paola.

They also have an impressive collection of interesting artwork, statues and exhibitions and an evergreen “Tunnel of Love” that is the perfect place for a secret hideout. I particularly like to go in the spring, when the weather is getting warmer, but before it is miserably hot and have a picnic, visit the museum or watch the kids play in the special kids section.

Calabria Travel - Cosenza

8. Shop along Cosenza’s Corso Mazzini

Cosenza, with its ancient historical center and modern new town, is one of my favorite cities in Calabria.

I love visiting the antique Duomo and strolling along the cobble-stone streets of the old town … stopping for gelato in my favorite little gelateria there, then heading across the river to the new side. Corso Mazzini is Cosenza’s main street, and in addition to housing the Festa del Cioccolato in the fall, it is lined with a variety of shops and boutique stores that fit every style and budget.

If you need a break, then stop by one of the bars for a quick coffee or aperitivo, but be sure to stay until dark. That’s when the energy really picks up, as the locals congregate on the street to see and be seen.

7. Learn How to Make Homemade Pasta

With Calabrian cuisine gaining popularity throughout Italy and abroad, it was only a matter of time before visitors started demanding lessons.

Throughout the region, you will find agriturismi, restaurants and independent entrepreneurs offering up their best recipes.

If you are interested in learning more about cooking classes in Calabria, let me know and we can add them into your custom itinerary.

If you’d like a truly, authentic Calabrian cooking experience, then join my friend Tania and me on our first annual Calabrian Table Tour this October.

calabria travel - reggio calabria

6. Cool off with Gelato on Reggio Calabria’s Lungomare

A year or so ago I conducted my very own taste-test of Reggio’s gelato and although Reggio’s Sottozero, was nothing to spit out, old-time favorite, Cesare stole my, uhm tastebuds.

If you are in southern Calabria and find yourself near the famous Straits of Messina, then head to Reggio’s lungomare, or as Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called it, “the most beautiful kilometer in Italy,” and cool off with your own sampling of gelato from these two well-known eateries.

calabria travel - tropea

5. Chill Out with an Aperitivo in Tropea

Tropea is one of Calabria’s most well-known beach resorts … and with good reason. In addition to its Easter egg-green colored waters and bold cliffs, it has a charming historical center that will surprise you with dramatic views when you least expect them.

Chilling out with an aperitivo-or a cool Italian beer a la my friends on the right is the perfect way to spend a short beach break or a nice way to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

4. Swim in the Ionian Sea

The Ionian Sea is just a few miles from our B&B and lucky for us, is filled with long stretches of beaches that range from pale pebbles to tan sand to big rocks.

The Ionian side is much less developed than its Tyrrhenian counterpart, but what it lacks in infrastructure, it makes up for in quiet, peaceful solitude.

My nephew, Cole, is pictured here on the right in the middle of the summer, rushing into the water in Roccelletta, near Catanzaro Lido.

3.Then Snorkel in the Tyrrhenian

The Tyrrhenian Sea is just 30 miles from Catanzaro and is a quick drive across the narrowest strip of land in the country. This makes it easy for locals and travelers alike to swim in the Ionian in the morning and snorkel in the Tyrrhenian in the afternoon.

My favorite beaches heading north include Amantea, Scalea and Praia a Mare, while southern-bound travelers might like the beaches at Pizzo, (pictured here) Parghelia or Tropea.

calabria travel - le castella

2. Picnic in the Shadows of a Castle

While some people might feel stressed by the absence of rules regarding some of Calabria’s most beloved attractions, that lax attitude also makes it easy for travelers to enjoy unique dining experiences-like picnicking in the shadows of a castle.

There are no shortage of good restaurants near Le Castella (shown on the right) and yes, I’ve had great seafood in an exclusive restaurant that overlooks the castle. However, my favorite place to eat at Le Castella is down near the water, on the rocky ledge that skirts the ocean, just beneath the towering ruins of this Argonese castle.

calabria travel - calabrian food

1. Have a Long, Leisurely Calabrese Lunch

Speaking of eating … topping this Calabria Top 10 list at #1 is having a long, leisurely Calabrese lunch. And yes, I’ve written about this before, but if you have one day in Calabria and don’t have time for anything else, promise me that you’ll eat.

Now, see there? That wasn’t dull, boring or overdone was it? If you are heading to Calabria, click here to see how I can help you plan your itinerary to include one-or all-of these Top 10.

If you’ve been to Calabria, what would make your personal Top 10 list?

Photos: ValliCupe, My Bella Vita, CalabriainTour, all other photos, My Bella Vita

8 Responses
  1. I love Cosenza – I was there just last weekend, in fact, to do some shopping. We got caught in the rain in quite a major way, and ended up having lunch in a restaurant next to the Duomo. As we asked around to find somewhere to eat, we were told by various people that this particular place was the only restaurant in town, but I can’t quite believe that. Thinking back on it, there may have been some language issues – we were asking for a ‘ristorante’, when we would have been equally happy with an ‘osterria’. Still, we had a good meal in the end, which is what counts!

  2. Ciao Cherrye!
    I’m with you on the Top 10 lists. If they’re done well they can be useful and interesting, especially if you haven’t visited a place before. I’ve never been to Calabria, so this list is really tempting! And one that I will look back on while planning a trip if I am so lucky in the future. I tend not to look at Top 10 lists for places I’ve already traveled to before. But there is so much travel information out there. We as readers have some responsibility in choosing what is most appropriate for our travel needs! Thanks for the fun top 10 for Calabria!

  3. Wounderful list! I would also say go to Geraci and the museum in Eggio Calabria and look at the ancient bronze statues recovered at sea a couple ecades ago. Alos, the beaches at Siderno are full of wonderful smooth and colorful sea glass –I collected so much of it!

  4. Very well said – As long as the author actually knows what he is talking about, top 10 lists can be a clear, structured way of inspiring you to visit/do something. They also give you the possibility of instantly seeing whether you’d be interested in something or not, because of their subtitles.

  5. Since I love ALL things Italy, perhaps I should have added an addendum to the list… Top 10 Lists Suck, unless dealing with the most wonderful country in the world. 😉

    Thanks for the shout out on my post. And great list. I look forward to meeting you next time I roll through Italy.

    Ha ha! There you go … now we can agree. 🙂

  6. I think what many object to are top 10-lists that could have been pulled from any guide-book. Very different then, from what you do here – adding your own experiences, your preferences, your personality there, on the ground.

    Calabria sounds fab, by the way. I’d love to explore those waterfalls.

  7. Your style is very unique in comparison to other people I’ve read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this page.

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