Guide to Some of Calabria's Ancestral Cities, Towns, and Villages

The following article lists important Calabria destinations, including some of the key ancestral towns and villages that many people journey to when exploring their genealogy. 

It can be tricky to find English-language information about many places in Calabria, so if you have any questions or have a particular town to feature on our list, please get in touch.

The following Calabria travel guide will be updated with more destinations in time. If you want to visit Calabria and make contact with the land of your ancestors, please consider joining us on a Small Group Heritage Tour in Italy.

Calabria’s Cities

Reggio Calabria

We’ll begin our list with some of Calabria’s cities. If you’re looking for a small town or village, scroll down the page.

Reggio Calabria is famous for its waterfront promenade, one of the most beautiful in Italy, and for being the largest and oldest city in Calabria. The National Archaeological Museum is home to the world-famous Riace Bronzes (Bronzi di Riace), two full-size Greek bronze statues of warriors, discovered in the sea near Riace, Calabria in 1972 — it’s a must-visit for any culture vultures traveling around Calabria.


Located on Calabria’s beautiful Ionian coast, Crotone is history-rich and was originally founded in 710 BC as a Greek colony. The city’s historical roots are visible in its impressive archaeological sites, such as the medieval Castle of Charles V and the nearby Temple of Hera.

In addition to its beaches, the city is also home to peaceful green spaces.


About an hour and a half north of Catanzaro, Cosenza is a modern educational center with a great cultural scene.It is known for its blend of ancient and modern influences. With a history dating back to the pre-Roman era, it houses architectural marvels such as the 11th-century Cosenza Cathedral (known as the Duomo) and the imposing Swabian Castle, reflecting its rich cultural heritage.


Catanzaro is Cherrye’s adopted hometown and it is referred to as the City of Three “Vs” in honor of San Vitaliano, the Patron Saint of Catanzaro, velvet, for the smooth silk and skilled craftsmen in the area, and vento – for the refreshing coastal breeze that flows through the town.

Vibo Valentia

Vibo Valentia is much more than its stunning coastline. The city’s ancient origins are marked by a Norman Castle perched up on the hills overlooking the sea while its old town charms visitors with lively piazzas and delicious cuisine.

Calabria’s Towns and Villages


In the heart of the Aspromonte mountains, the charming village of Delianuova is nestled amidst ancient olive groves and lush forests of chestnut and beech trees. Established in 1878 through the amalgamation of Paracorio and Pedavoli, the town carries echoes of its Greek roots. It is believed that Paracorio originated from the ancient Greek city of Delia which fell to ruins following a Saracen invasion in the ninth century. Today, this village captures the essence of rural Italian life, offering serene landscapes and traditional products.


This village in the province of Catanzaro is one of our most-requested ancestral towns. It might be known for its historical churches and as a strategic base for Garibaldi’s fighters, but our team loves to visit because of the homemade sausage and delicious mushrooms that can be found throughout the area. The town, perched on the slopes of the eastern slope of Monte Reventino, charms visitors with its sweeping vistas of rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards.

Marano Marchesato

Marano Marchesato, a small town in the province of Cosenza, is everything you imagine a small Calabrian town to be with its tranquil atmosphere and rustic charm. Steeped in tradition, Marano Marchesato invites you to wander through its narrow streets, visit centuries-old churches like the Church of Maria SS. del Carmine, and mingle with the friendly locals.

San Giovanni in Fiore

Founded by the abbot Joachim of Fiore, San Giovanni in Fiore hosts the impressive Florense Abbey. This town is deeply rooted in religious history and medieval culture, evident in its architecture and local festivals. There is a unique plaque in the town that pays homage to the tragic Monongah, West Virginia mining disaster where 34 immigrants from San Giovanni in Fiore perished.

Villa San Giovanni

This coastal town in the province of Reggio Calabria is primarily known for its ferry connections to Sicily. However, it also offers stunning views across the Strait of Messina and a lively port atmosphere that adds to its charm. Guests with heritage in Villa San Giovanni have been surprised by its size – it isn’t the “small” village they were expecting.

Gioiosa Ionica

With its archaeological sites dating back to the Roman era, Gioiosa Ionica is an interesting destination for history enthusiasts. The town boasts a lively cultural scene, especially during its annual festivals which are a great time for those with ancestry in the area to visit.


Located in the lower part of La Sila in the province of Catanzaro, Petronà is one of the first heritage towns we visited when we started our company in 2007. The town is emblematic of the tranquil Calabrian lifestyle and is surrounded by lush greenery.


Located in the picturesque Sila Mountains, Acri is a small town with a long history, which stretches back to the Bronze Age. Cultural sites worth visiting include the MACA Acri Contemporary Art Museum in the Palazzo Sanseverino-Falcone, the Museum of Rural Civilization in the Padula Palace, and the beautiful San Domenico church.

Vibo Valentia

Vibo Valentia is the capital of the province of Vibo Valentia and is an agricultural, commercial, and tourist center. Originally a significant ancient Greek colony named Hipponion, it later evolved into the Roman colony of Valentia. So, as you can probably imagine, it boasts a wealth of archaeological sites including remnants of Roman baths and a Norman castle. And, if that weren’t enough, the city’s elevated position provides stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Isca sullo Ionio

The delightfully named Isca sullo Ionio, that sits on the splendid Ionian Coast, has ancient Greek origins. Originally established closer to sea level, the town’s medieval inhabitants decided to move the village to its current hilltop location in the 9th century; this was to offer better protection from sea raiders who were operating along the Calabrian coast. Nearby Isca Marina is a present-day tourist village situated on the site of the original town.


Located at the narrowest point of Calabria where just 30 kilometers separate the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. The town possesses one of the oldest historical centers in Calabria and is famous for its long history of silk production.

In August, the village hosts the Festival Jazz & Vento, a festival that has featured an array of notable guests, such as the world-renowned composer Ludovico Einaudi.

Soveria Mannelli

Soveria Mannelli sits at the foot of the Reventino mounts and is known for its rich woodland surroundings, making it a nature-lover’s dream. But it is so much more, with its historical textile mills, this village provides a unique window into Calabria’s industrial past, making it a worthwhile stop for those studying family history in the region.


Cotronei is situated on the north-western side of the Sila Piccola plateau surrounded by natural landscape and close to one of Calabria’s best ski resorts, Lorica.

Interestingly, Cotronei was the hometown of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler’s grandfather – an indication of the town’s links to the United States through emigration.


Situated along the Tyrrhenian coast, Falerna is well-known for its stunning beaches and views of the sea. Many inhabitants of Falerna emigrated to western Pennsylvania in the United States, with some recently returning to their hometown upon retirement. Older residents often speak a unique dialect known as Falernese.

Remember, with My Bella Vita, you can take a Small Group Heritage Tour in Calabria to explore your family history.


Amantea is a historic seaside town on Calabria’s Tyrrhenian coast, known for its dramatic cliffside views, and is home to several notable historical sites. It’s castle, known as “la rocca”, was initially built by the Byzantines and then later fortified by the Arabs and features a Norman-Hohenstaufen cylindrical tower. It has a turbulent history, including sieges in 1269 by Charles of Anjou and near-destruction during the French siege of 1806-1807, and is now an abandoned public structure. The town also boasts the Palazzo delle Clarisse, a 17th-century palace originally a convent for the Poor Clares and now a venue for cultural events and a restaurant.

San Nicola da Crissa

San Nicola da Crissa, on the slopes of Monte Cucco in the Calabrian Serre, is a lovely hill town situated approximately 500 meters above sea level within the province of Vibo Valentia. Its origins are intricately linked with the legendary city of Crissa, thought to have been established by the Greeks, likely originating from Locri Epizephiri, around the 7th century BC. San Nicola da Crissa is renowned for its distinctive “Suriaca russa janca”, a locally cultivated bean prized for its versatility as they are equally suited for simple, rustic dishes as well as for more elaborate culinary creations.

San Pietro in Amantea

San Pietro in Amantea, a small village near Amantea, offers visitors a tranquil escape with its picturesque landscapes. This village boasts a quieter setting with less tourist traffic, ideal for experiencing authentic Calabrian village life.

San Nicola dell‘Alto

San Nicola del Alto, a small hilltop village in the province of Crotone, is renowned for its Arbëreshë cultural heritage, preserving the unique traditions and language of its Albanian ancestors who settled here in the 15th century.

San Sostene

San Sostene combines coastal and mountainous landscapes, offering striking views of the Ionian Sea. The village is known for its production of olive oil and the cultivation of chestnuts. As with just about any small town in Calabria, this is a great place to sample local produce and specialty dishes.


In 1783, the Calabrian village of Castelmonardo was completely destroyed by an earthquake. When the local inhabitants began to rebuild, they renamed their town Filadelfia (Greek for ‘brotherly love’), inspired by the United States which had just won its independence. Today, the town is admired for its restored architecture, long history of textile weaving, and vibrant summer festivals celebrating local produce.


Fabrizia, found in the Serre Calabresi mountains, is the highest town in the province of Vibo Valentia, perched at an altitude of approximately 1000 meters above sea level. The town was established in 1591 and is surrounded by pristine mountains adorned with majestic trees. It’s a gateway to exploring the rich biodiversity of the region and is the only town in the Calabrian Serre to have a view of the Ionian Sea.


Civita is a hill town village in the Pollino National Park, which is notable for its Albanian heritage which can still be heard spoken by the locals. In addition to the unique heritage of this town, it also offers a dramatic landscape, including the Raganello Gorges. The village is a hub for hikers and those interested in exploring rugged terrains and ancient customs. It is easy to see why this is is one of I Borghi più Belli d’Italia (“The most beautiful villages of Italy”).

Santa Caterina Albanese

Santa Caterina Albanese, another Arbëreshë village, retains a distinct Albanian identity through language, customs, and festivals. This village is a living museum of Albania’s cultural impact in Italy, enriched by picturesque landscapes and traditional architecture.

We’ll continue adding to this list, growing it to include all of the fascinating destinations our Heritage Tours in Italy have taken us to. If you’d like to see a town or village added, please get in touch.