Indulge in the epicurean delights of Calabria with our meticulously curated 11-day food and wine vacation package. Our journey unfolds across three carefully chosen locales – the picturesque Cedro Coast, the bustling heart of Catanzaro, and the captivating beauty of Reggio Calabria.
As we journey through the provinces of Cosenza and Vibo, the essence of Calabria’s culinary artistry is unveiled through encounters with local food aficionados and experts. We’ll tantalize our taste buds with zesty peppers, craft homemade tomato sauce, and discover the ancient art of twisting figs.
The gastronomic adventure continues as we revel in a sumptuous dining experience at a Michelin-starred restaurant and soak in the rustic charm of quaint trattorias. The journey promises a cornucopia of flavors, from the creaminess of local cheeses to the robust notes of Calabrian wines… Oh, and there will be wine, an abundance to delight every palate.
Crafting this tour has been a voyage of discovery and mirth for my team and me, and we are beyond thrilled to share this carefully woven tapestry of culinary experiences with you.
As we delve deeper into the heart of Calabria over these 11 days, you’ll savor the region’s most renowned food and wine and forge a heartfelt connection with small-scale producers and global connoisseurs.
Every meal is a voyage into the known and the unknown, savoring specialties that have always tickled your fancy and venturing into tastes hitherto unexplored. The daily cascade of free-flowing wine and evening group aperitivi will kindle a camaraderie that only a shared love for food can foster.
Cooking alongside the locals, engaging with the farmers who nurture the land, and exchanging stories with fellow travelers, you’ll find yourself falling head over heels for the unparalleled charm of Calabria. Calabria will beckon you into a love affair that lingers long past this journey through its rich culinary traditions and the ruby-red nectar of its vineyards.
As we toast to the adventures that await, the Italian saying “Buon appetito” will encapsulate the spirit of our quest for the quintessential flavors of Calabria.
If you have any questions about this itinerary, please get in touch.
Accommodations and Transportation:
** There is a lot of food included in this itinerary; travelers rarely have the appetite for dinners or “on their own” meals.
Group Excursions and Experiences:
We will meet you at the Lamezia Terme Airport in time for the group transfer at 10:00 AM, or – if you are able to take our advice and arrive a day early, we’ll pick you up directly at your airport hotel.
Our first stop is a multi-generational family business dating back to 1910 which is praised for its high-quality signature sweets made with figs. We will learn how figs are used to create some of Calabria’s most treasured sweets including the much-loved Crocette, named for its cross shape. After sampling some of these delicious treats, we will make our way north.
We’ll stop in Fiumefreddo Bruzio, named one of Italy’s “Most Beautiful Hamlets.” We will explore this enchanting borgo with its ancient castle, impressive noble residences, and charming piazzas that overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea. We’ll stop at one of our favorite restaurants in Fiumefreddo Bruzio, tucked away in the maze-like streets of the town, and enjoy a delicious meal made with local ingredients made by small producers which are guaranteed to be IGP, DOP, and/or Slow Food certified, and environmentally sustainable.
We’ll check into our hotel on the Riviera dei Cedri, then will meet up for a Welcome to Calabria aperitivo.
This morning, we’ll discover first-hand why this breathtaking coast of Calabria is known as the Riviera dei Cedri. This citrus has been grown and harvested in this part of Calabria for centuries. Not only is it unique to the region, it is the reason why Rabbis come here every year to handpick cedri to be used in a very important Jewish ceremony.
We will meet up with Chef Vincenzo, who is not only an expert when it comes to cooking with cedro, he is also a bonafide chef of the Accademia Italiana del Peperoncino. He will show us around his trattoria located on the foothills of the Pollino mountains. Then, he will lead us in a special cooking class and demonstrate how he uses these key local ingredients in various dishes. Then there is nothing left to do but feast on our delicious creations. Buon appetito! After lunch, we’ll return to our hotel and you’ll have the evening on your own.
This morning we will head into the countryside to spend the day with a local food celebrity. Together we will visit his small, but thriving shop, and learn the sacred art of making tomato sauce. We will feast on traditional Calabrese dishes that have stood the test of time for generations. We’ll gather and experience the true meaning of “casareccio” (homemade) as we enjoy a delicious family-style meal, al fresco, in the hilltops overlooking the Tyrrhenian coastline. You’ll return to the hotel and have the rest of the day on your own. Evening on your own.
This morning we’ll check out of the hotel and head east towards the Ionian coast. Along the way, we’ll stop at a family-owned vineyard in the heart of the Cosenza province where you’ll get an up-close and personal tour of their vineyard and wine cellar. This boutique vineyard is owned by a pair of brothers who together with their mom and dad, bought a piece of land and a plow and set out to make some of the best Calabrian wine you’ll ever taste.
After the tour, you’ll indulge in a multi-course wine-pairing lunch, exquisitely prepared by one of the owners. Then we’ll continue the drive towards the seaside town of Catanzaro Lido and check into our seaside hotel. Overnight in Catanzaro Lido.
After breakfast, we will visit one of the most significant monuments in Medieval Calabria, the 12th Century Byzantine Basilica of Santa Maria in Roccelletta which just happens to be sitting proudly amid an olive plantation. We’ll explore ruins they say may have been discovered by Ulysses and walk through time with a visit to the only archaeological museum in Calabria that is dedicated to Roman history, which features statues, coins, columns, and other relics that were discovered beneath the olive grove. We’ll have a quick visit to the olive oil museum, which is home to one of the first electric olive mills in Italy.
For lunch, we will visit the Michelin-star restaurant, Abbruzzino. This family-owned fine dining restaurant was the first in Calabria to receive a Michelin star and its reputation has gained international attention. We’ll have the chance to taste some of Calabria’s traditional dishes “with a twist”.
We’ll return to the hotel and you will have the rest of the day on your own. Overnight Catanzaro Lido.
This morning we will make our way to the narrowest point in Italy, to the picturesque town of Maida. There we’ll meet with our friend, Mariangela, and her crew consisting mainly of women, young adults, and disadvantaged people to discover more about her organic farm. She will give us an in-depth look into their family-run business known for its olive oil production. We’ll visit the olive fields, wander the orchards, and learn what they are doing to be more sustainable. Then, we will be her guests for a hearty lunch, complete with delicious traditional Calabrian foods made with kilometer-zero ingredients.
Following lunch, we will return to our hotel in Catanzaro Lido and you’ll have the rest of the evening and dinner on your own. Overnight in Catanzaro Lido.
Today we will head into the lower La Sila Mountains for a visit to Cortale. These mountains are home, not only to Acqua Calabria, creator of the famous Brasilena coffee soda (don’t judge!), but they are also known for their amazing porcini mushrooms, and fagioli di Cortale. These beans are so deeply rooted in the territory that they have been included in the Presidia Slow Food Community – a community of farmers and producers from all over the world who are dedicated to maintaining and preserving foods with strong ties to the heritage and tradition of the territory it is produced in. There are five types of beans that have been cultivated here for generations, most of them still harvested by hand!
We will see the fields where these local beans are grown and then try them during our mountain feast at one of the area’s most beloved restaurants, complete with samplings of other local specialties.
Following lunch, we’ll return to the hotel. Evening and dinner on your own in Catanzaro Lido. Overnight in Catanzaro Lido.
You will check out of your hotel and drive across the isthmus to the Tyrrhenian Sea where you will visit a winery that has revived an almost extinct grape variety. Their signature white wine has not only received praise as one of the Top 10 Best White Wines in Italy from the New York Times, but it is also garnering attention from wine enthusiasts and wine competitions all over the world. We’ll have a chance to taste some of these wines – and taste firsthand why these wines are getting so much praise.
Then, we’ll learn about Pizzo’s famous tuna with a visit to the Callipo Tuna Factory, which has been in business since 1913. This long-standing tuna producer was the first in Calabria and one of the first in Italy, and it continues to produce high-quality tuna products exclusively in Calabria.
With all our new knowledge and a grumbling belly, we’ll make our way to the heart of the centro storico of Pizzo Calabro for a delicious lunch at one of our favorite seafood restaurants. You’ll enjoy a rich meal featuring the freshest high-quality seafood from the area.
Following lunch, we will visit my absolute favorite gelateria in town for dessert and a behind-the-scenes look at how to make Pizzo’s famous tartufo di Pizzo gelato truffles. Happy and full, we will continue heading south and check into our hotel located in the heart of Reggio Calabria and just steps away from the breathtaking seaside promenade overlooking the Strait of Messina and Sicily. Overnight in Reggio Calabria.
This morning we’ll hit the Violet Coast with a half-day excursion from Scilla to Bagnara. You’ll see Chianalea, the Ruffo Castle, the Grotta di Glauco – a recently discovered cave in Pirate’s Bay – and will have, weather permitting, time to swim and snorkel. We’ll have an aperitivo on board and learn all about the swordfish industry. We’ll have lunch, then in the afternoon we’ll return to Reggio. Evening on your own in Reggio. Overnight in Reggio Calabria.
*Weather and local regulations might impact this day. If we can’t go on the boat, an alternative day in Scilla will be arranged.
Today, we’ll discover “Greek Calabria”. Situated in and around the Aspromonte mountains, the ancient Greek influence is a living legacy, evident in its culture, cuisine, and the fading Calabrian-Greek dialect that is spoken there. These echoes of a bygone era transport visitors to a time when Greek settlers left an indelible mark on this picturesque Italian region.
You will visit Pentedattilo, one of the most famous ghost towns in Calabria situated on Monte Calvario. The name of the town comes from the Greek words penta and daktylos, meaning “five fingers” – and if you look closely at the town from a distance, you’ll see why. Then it’s full speed ahead to Bova, one of the most important ancient Greek centers in the province of Reggio Calabria because it is one of the few places where the unique Greek-Calabrian dialect is still spoken. We’ll enjoy lunch in a family-owned agriturismo to enjoy some local specialties and sample their homemade digestivo with its unique infusion of herbs grown spontaneously in Calabria.
Afterward, we’ll return to our hotel in Reggio Calabria, freshen up, and gather for a farewell aperitivo on the rooftop of the hotel. Overnight in Reggio Calabria.
You’ll have breakfast, then at 8:00 AM, the group transfer will depart for either the Reggio Calabria or Lamezia Terme airport. Arrivederci bella Calabria!
Group airport transfers are included at the scheduled times. Travelers arriving outside these times should inquire about private transfers.
We love private tours and can often include extra fun elements that aren’t available to individual travelers. If you’d like a bilingual escort or driver, just let us know. We’ll be happy to plan your custom vacation accordingly.
This is a great question because there is sometimes overlap amongst the three which leads to confusion. To keep it quick though, a travel consultant is a local expert, meaning she only focuses on a specific part of the world, in some cases one country, in other cases (like mine) part of one country. This person usually lives (or has lived for an extended amount of time) in the place she consults on and has an intimate knowledge of the area.
A travel agent is similar in that she helps her clients put their trips together. A travel agent can specialize in a country but oftentimes hasn’t lived there and/or may not have traveled to all of the places her clients are going. A travel agent can search for and book flights and cruises that travel consultants can’t or choose not to book.
I often work with travel agents who want to ensure they are offering the best service to their clients. The travel agent will contact me and together we’ll put the Calabria/southern Italy section of their client’s vacation together.
A tour operator packages trip elements into travel packages that they either sell directly or through travel agents. Some travel consultants (like me) are registered as a tour operator for legal business purposes.
When you book a custom vacation, there is more going into your trip than simply recommending a hotel or a cooking class. I am invested in my clients’ trips and I work with them to choose the right base locations, to map out their ideal route and to ensure the hotels, guides, excursions and activities are right for them.
It’s been estimated the average person spends 100 hours researching, planning and booking a vacation. My clients either don’t have this kind of time to devote to planning their trip or they want to ensure they are making the right decisions for their vacation.
Besides the fact that I’m being paid by my clients to plan their trips, I choose not to accept commissions from hotels, car companies, chefs or other vendors because I don’t like the potential conflict of interest. If I don’t accept commission from anyone, then my clients know I always have their best interest in mind.
I don’t – but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.