Until now few people have had the chance to travel in Calabria, opting instead to visit the Big Three or basing themselves in Italy’s northern regions.
But things are changing.
Today’s travelers are interested in experiencing Italy’s rural south and it won’t be long before a Calabria is more than a stopping point between the Amalfi Coast and Sicily.
If you are planning a tour of Calabria-either with your family or as part of a group, then act like a Calabrian. Here are five things you can do to get into character. After all, you know what they say-when in … Calabria?
1. Eat Something New
Last week I wrote about Calabrian food and listed some of my favorite ingredients … most notably, the red chili pepper. I’ve talked about the famous ‘nduja sausage a few times, written about Catanzaro’s morzello and told you about how much Calabrians love their homemade sausage.
If you are traveling in Calabria, you should climb out of that safe-food shell and try something new. If mystery meat isn’t your thing, then consider a new seafood dish-swordfish is popular here-or even porcini mushrooms. Whatever you do, just try something new.
2. Swim in the Ionian Sea
Calabria is surrounded on both sides by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas, so if you are visiting the area, make it a point to get to Ionian side-that’s my side, by the way-and take a dip. Some of my favorite beaches on the Ionian side include Pietragrande, Caminia and Giovino at Catanzaro Lido.
3. Then head across the peninsula and Swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea
Since you are sooo close, you might as well head across Calabria-only 30 kilometers if you are in Catanzaro-and explore those waters, too. Popular beaches on the Tyrrhenian side include Tropea, Diamante and Scilla. If you want to stay a little closer to Catanzaro but still swim in the Tyrrhenian, then Falerna is a good choice.
4. Get Lost in a Medieval Village
In case you missed the overview last week, Calabria is brimming with medieval villages of all shapes and sizes, so finding a village to get lost in won’t be tough. There are guided tours available for many of the more popular medieval villages in Calabria, but plan a little time after your tour and just walk.
Your private walking tour will likely lead you up steep hills, down narrow, winding alleyways and around abrupt turns that open into panoramic views of the valleys-and oftentimes the ocean-below.
5. Enjoy a Traditional Calabrian Sunday
Sundays are still a celebrated family day for many Calabrians and on springtime and summertime Sundays, they like to head into the mountains for a big family lunch. Popular places include Villaggio Mancuso in Sila Piccola, Camigliatella in Sila Grande and Monte Covello near Cortale.
Have you been to Calabria yet? What would you add to this list?
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