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What to see in Calabria? What to know in Calabria? What to check in Calabria?
When it comes to tourism, Calabria is always in second place, and still retains wonderful treasures less known by foreigners. Of course, the infrastructure is still insufficient, but the ‘tip of the boot’ deserves to be visited every time of the year.
Calabria is the ‘tip of boot’, formed by an area rich in history and traditions, but also by tourist areas and particularly beautiful natural environments. Bathed in the splendid waters of the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, it is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina.
The warm environment, the splendid colors of the sea, the rocky shores alternating with sandy coasts, its wild and mysterious nature, and the intense and genuine flavors of the local cuisine, with the witnesses of its ancient origins, renders Calabria a unique place.
Now that we have made a type of list, we will name ten places to see on this wonderful strip of land.
We know that the rankings do not satisfy everyone, in any case take these ideas as an invitation to add other places and other experiences in this beautiful and condemned territory.
Lets go to know our Calabria?
Are you ready to go and get to know the ten wonderful places of this spectacular land? We begin by describing these magical places, between art and unique villages, to the discovery of a beautiful region: Calabria.
When you come to Calabria you have two places that it is impossible not to visit or photograph, I am referring to Tropea and Chianalea di Scilla.
They are two scenographic towns impossible to immortalize in images and memories.
Calabria is proud of unique landscape views in the world and Tropea, undoubtedly, represents the column that carries the natural beauties that the South present to us.
Why visiting Tropea?
Because Tropea is the vacation capital of Calabria, it is a charming place overlooking the sea where you can admire the splendor of nature. With its immense range of colors, ranging from the blue and, with the fall of the sun, turning into silvery and turquoise.
Diverting a little look from the sea, you can also observe the relaxing green of the trees on the hills; suddenly we have a beautiful mix of green and blue, sea, plain and mountain.
You should visit Tropea also because there are lovely beaches, a very prestigious gastronomy and a wonderful old town. What else do you need?!
Let’s see how to visit Tropea!
Tropea is not only fascinating by the beautiful sea that surrounds it, but also by its old town, rich of ancient lords palaces and that typical architectural style, of 1700, that imprisons among its walls travelers who are captured by typical streets that end in every narrow alley in town. A few steps from the old town and you can see a port, surrounded by piers and boats. Also the Benedictine Sanctuary of high medieval origin nestled on a rock overlooking the sea, representing the archetypal emblem of the city.
Tropea is a succession of narrow streets, alleys and panoramic angles: after a tour between the Cathedral, the sanctuaries and the noble palaces, we must take a walk along the white sandy beaches and feel the taste of the famous sweet onion.
2)SCILLA, A VENEZA DO SUL
And what about the splendid Chianalea di Scilla? It is a legendary place, at the gates of Reggio Calabria, where still has space for the echo of the mythical monster that attacked the ship of Ulysses. Legends aside, the Calabrian side of the strait presents a wonderful panorama, where rocks overlooking the sea, waves that skim the rocks and the beautiful villages of Scilla and Chianalea are a fraction of Scilla and are considered one of the most beautiful villages of the Italy. The small town is also called Venice of the South, for its spectacular houses built directly on the rocks next to the waters and separated by small streets that resemble the canals of the lagoon.
It is an old maritime village, where the sea always touches the houses of fishermen, so it is called “Little Venice”. The old houses are separated from each other by small sleepers that descend to the sea. Visiting Chianalea means getting lost in the magic of the smells and flavors coming from the kitchens of the picturesque restaurants where the voluptuous taste of traditional cuisine is able to change the lucky of the day. The main activity is fishing and so it is easy to see the fishermen working with the nets.
3) RIVIERA DEI CEDRI
We start by visiting The Riviera of Cedars (La Riviera Dei Cedri); it is how we call the piece of Calabrian coast where the citrus scents that constitute the region’s pride in the world are cultivated. The coast, with its eighty kilometers of beaches and cliffs, offers many reasons to visit not only the boulevard, but also the little towns around, passing through to the sanctuaries nestled in the rock, by the religious traditions that are lost in the night of the times. A return to these parts is the occasion where one sees an authentic division of Italy, where traditions are felt and respected as few other parts in Italy.
Among the small towns are: Aieta of Byzantine origin which, besides the splendid view of the Policastro gulf, offers important historical-religious witnesses such as the chapel of Saint Nicholas (San Nicola) and the church of Santa Maria della Visitazione. Then there is Praia a Mare, with its spectacular island of Dino, where you immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful seas of Calabria. Not to mention the small town of Paola, with Francis of Paola (San Francesco), patron of Calabria, who in 1453 founded the sanctuary; still today a place of solidarity and faith, an imposing complex that, absolutely, must be visited! And finally we must mention a splendid village that overlooks the sea, Scalea, known for its splendid churches, such as Saint Nicholas in plateis (San Nicola in plateis), and its sea.
Cosenza is situated in a natural frame of hills in the Valley of the Crati at the confluence of the river Busento, which divides the modern part of the city from the old part, that appears on the slopes of the Pancrazio Mountains. There is no better time to visit the city, given its typically Mediterranean climate and the artistic, historical and cultural beauties that are present in there. Embracing the east of Sila, to the west by the mountain of the sea to the north by the Massif of Pollino and to the south of the hills of the Savuto, this valley is the ideal place to reach the diverse areas of the province. In less than one hour driving by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Sea and by the mountains of Sila and Pollino, the city of Bruzia, with its 2,500-year history, is an must see destination to relive the history of Alaric, the life of Frederick II of Swabia (Stupor Mundi), the Cathedral, the Suevo Castle and all its downtown. It is not only the history, culture and art that makes this city attractive, but also the gastronomy, the traditions, the hospitality and the splendid scenery that will not let you forget this place.
In any case today Cosenza, called Milan of the south, has a privileged position regarding to other capitals of Calabria for being, in spite of the many problems that invest it, the most habitable one.
The perched city of Pentadattilo – Reggio Calabria
In Pentadattilo, later, a fraction of Melito Porto Salvo, in the province of Reggio Calabria, the history began very early, in 600 B.C., thanks also to its strategic position. The village is perched on the cliff of Mount Calvary and nestled in the rock.
Its shape resembles the five-fingered Cyclops hand (hence the name Pentadattilo – penta means five) and its streets were theaters of the “Alberti massacre”, a feud between two noble local families. Today it is a fascinating place, full of mystery, and the population has moved, making the village a ghostly place. Italo Calvino said that “its past was written in the streets”, I suggest getting the car and take a walk in there.
6) SANTA SEVERINA
In 2015, in a contest promoted by the famous touristic TV show Kilimangiaro, it conquered the 3rd place as the most beautiful villages in all Italy. Are you curious?
It is not many who know another spectacular place: Santa Severina, a Calabrian town in the province of Crotone called “the stone ship”, which with its baptistery, castle and cathedral, represents, maybe, the most important Byzantine proof in Calabria.
Santa Severina is an ancient medieval village situated in the center of Crotone province, halfway between the Ionian Sea and the Sila Mountains. The small town rises on a cliff to the center of a vast valley that makes it look like a great stone ship. In addition to being a historical place of particular interest, Santa Severina, which rises from a rocky projection, is also one of the most beautiful medieval villages in all Italy; it will be surprising to stop for a visit, maybe accompanied by a cold coffee or a brioche with ice cream.
When you talk about Calabria, you automatically think about the sea. The fact that you can ski in the area always makes everyone astonished and, yet, the snow conditions are often better than many other Alpine locations. In Calabria you can ski on the Pollino, Sila and Aspromonte, for example; Gambarie may be considered the most important mountain town of the province of Reggio Calabria and is among the most important of the south.
The landscape is truly spectacular, with centuries-old beech forests, crystal clear creeks and silent mountains. Two modern cable cars take tourists and skiers to the peaks of Mount Scirocco and Mount Nardello. When you return to the city, you can taste so many typical dishes created with mushrooms, cheese, ricotta and meat, all from local farms.
8) REGGIO CALABRIA
The most beautiful Calabrian town, both natural and architectural point of view, is Reggio Calabria; known throughout Italy for the spectacular seafront, its famous for the Corso Garibaldi which is full of trendy shops, bar and restaurants and a wonderful panorama that offers to tourists a unique landscape.
This beautiful city is also known for housing the famous Riace bronzes, preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria. The city is nestled in a splendid position on the Stretto di Messina, with a magnificent seafront described by poets and writers. Gabriele D’Annunzio defined it as “the most beautiful kilometer of Italy”. It is, in fact, a happy union of specific and very beautiful plants, monuments and palaces, including villages of later styles and classic art nouveau in a background of rare fascination.
9) POLLINO NATIONAL PARK
Is impossible not to visit the National Park of Pollino, the background is majestic, dominated by particular contours of the loricato (Bosnian) pine, tree of incredible beauty, almost a “plant monument”. The Pollino National Park, located between Calabria and Basilicata, is one of the largest parks in Europe and, perhaps, one of the last wilderness areas of the continent. Try to take a walk in one of these reserves in Calabria: the Lao Valley, the Raganello gorges, the Argentino river valley and the Rubbio river valley. It’s really worth it!
The canyon of Raganello is really scenographic, in other countries it would be famous as much as any American canyon. The growth of Pollino leaded to the development of innumerous adventure sports, for example, in the ravines of the Lao river, you can practice rafting, it’s a really attractive idea, or in the Raganello, you can practice canyoneering! These activities you can practice on summer time, but also in the midseason and are very convincing and special experiences.
From one of its rooms we can observe the sea floor in real time, thanks to the underwater cameras that will make you descend symbolically in the depths of one of the most enchanting places of the region and, possibly, also of all Italy.
At this point you have to visit the Cattolica di Stilo, a small centrally planned Byzantine church in the Square at the foot of Mount Consollino, in the province of Reggio Calabria; is a Calabrian treasure visited every year by thousands of Italians and foreign tourists.
Stilo is one of the most beautiful and interesting destinations for history and art, the proud of Calabria, belonging to the Byzantine villages; is the town of Tommaso Campanella and of the jewel of Byzantine art, the Cattolica, in southern Calabria. The position where Stilo appears is already a great spectacle. The ancient village is, in fact, arranged in layers on limestone, on a hill of olive trees and vines.
Now we’re gonna see one of my favorite places
Imagine a place of incomparable beauty, where time seems to have stopped and where the beauty of the sea and the sunsets of summer will warm the desire of the ideal vacations! If this is your wish, you have to come to the splendid land of Calabria, a land of culture, history, traditions, typical flavors… feel like, not only as a traveler, but as a guest.
A LITTLE MORE OF THE BEAUTIES OF CALABRIA
How to get there
You can go to Calabria from any part of Italy.
Calabria has four airports; the main airports are Lamezia Terme and Reggio Calabria, then Sant’Anna airport, in Crotone, and Vibo Valentia, the military airport.
The railway infrastructure in Calabria covers about 850 km of lines, with about 115 stations.
Calabria is accessible by car through the highway link and specifically through the A3 Salerno highway – Reggio Calabria – Reggina, which ends in the city of the same name. This road is free of tolls.
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