Rugged coastline along the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas?- check. A wealth of historical sites, including Greek and Roman ruins? -check. Lovely coastal hikes and amazing beaches?- check.
Nestled in the southernmost tip of Italy, just above Sicily, Calabria is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Join us as we embark on a journey through the captivating landscapes and cultural treasures of Calabria. Whether you’re considering Calabria vacation packages or searching for the best hotels in Reggio Calabria, this guide will inspire your exploration of this unspoiled Italian paradise.
Coastal Splendor: The Beauty of Calabria’s Beaches
Tropea: The Jewel of the Tyrrhenian Sea
Tropea, with its dramatic cliffs, golden sands, and crystal-clear waters, is often hailed as one of Italy’s most beautiful beach destinations. The town itself is a charming mix of mediaeval architecture and bustling markets, making it the perfect starting point for exploring Calabria’s coastal wonders.
Capo Vaticano: Hikes to Remember
Just a short drive from Tropea, Capo Vaticano offers another glimpse of paradise. Here, you’ll find pristine coves and hidden beaches framed by rugged cliffs. It’s an idyllic spot for snorkelling, swimming, or simply basking in the Mediterranean sun.
The Belvedere Capo Vaticano hike is one of the best in the region, with fantastic views, especially at sunset. Try the loop from Groticelle, which lasts around two hours. If you are up for a bigger challenge, you can embark on the Freedhof- Belvedere loop from Tropea. This requires a bit of hiking skills, good shoes and time availability of about 5 hours.
Ionian Coast: White Sands, Turquoise Waters and Hiking
Calabria’s Ionian Coast, stretching from Soverato to Siderno, is a haven of white sandy beaches and inviting azure waters. Explore towns like Pizzo Calabro and Briatico for a taste of local seafood and gelato.
Calabria’s Culinary Delights: A Gastronomic Adventure
Calabrese Cuisine: A Symphony of Flavors
Calabria’s cuisine is a testament to its rich agricultural heritage. Sample dishes like nduja (spicy sausage spread), caciocavallo cheese, and Calabrese soppressata. Don’t miss the opportunity to savour fresh seafood along the coast.
Traditional Pasta: The Art of Handmade Orecchiette
In the hilltop village of Zungri, you can witness the art of making orecchiette, a traditional pasta. Join a local nonna (grandmother) in her home to learn the secrets of this culinary craft.
Pizzo’s Tartufo: A Sweet Indulgence
Pizzo is famous for its tartufo, a delectable dessert made of chocolate and hazelnut gelato. Legend has it that this sweet treat was created to honour the visit of Princess Sissi of Austria in the 19th century.
Exploring Calabria’s Historical Heritage
The Riace Bronzes: Ancient Marvels
Calabria is home to one of Italy’s most significant archaeological discoveries—the Riace Bronzes. These stunning bronze statues, dating back to the 5th century BC, were found in the sea near Reggio Calabria. They now reside in the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, where you can admire their intricate detail and historical significance.
Stilo’s Cattolica: A Byzantine Jewel
The Cattolica di Stilo, a Byzantine-era church perched atop a hill, is a testament to Calabria’s rich history. It’s simple yet elegant design and stunning mountain backdrop make it a must-visit cultural treasure.
Gerace: The Stone Village
Explore the medieval village of Gerace, where narrow cobblestone streets wind their way through ancient stone buildings. The Gerace Cathedral, a masterpiece of Norman architecture, stands as a testament to the village’s rich history.
Calabria Vacation Packages: Exploring the Region
To make the most of your Calabria adventure, consider Calabria vacation packages that allow you to explore the region’s diverse landscapes and cultural heritage.
Sila National Park: A Mountain Escape
Venture into the heart of Calabria with a visit to Sila National Park, where you can explore lush forests, pristine lakes, and charming mountain villages. Activities range from hiking and horseback riding to fishing and stargazing.
Aspromonte National Park: Wild Calabria
Discover the rugged beauty of Aspromonte National Park, known for its untamed landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. Visit the village of Staiti and hike to the stunning Cascate del Maesano, a series of waterfalls tucked away in the wilderness.
The Aeolian Islands: A Mediterranean Paradise
Extend your journey to the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago just off the coast of Calabria. Explore islands like Stromboli, known for its active volcano, and Lipari, with its beautiful beaches and charming villages.
Best Hotels in Reggio Calabria: Where to Rest and Recharge
When it comes to accommodations, Reggio Calabria offers a range of options, from boutique hotels to beachfront resorts. Here are some of the best hotels in Reggio Calabria:
Grand Hotel Excelsior: This elegant waterfront hotel offers stunning views of the Strait of Messina and the Riace Bronzes. It’s a luxurious base for exploring the city.
Hotel Medinblu: Located in the heart of Reggio Calabria, this modern hotel offers comfortable rooms and easy access to the city’s attractions.
Hotel Palace Masoanri’s: Situated near the National Archaeological Museum, this hotel combines convenience with comfort and hospitality.
TownHouse Cavour: A boutique hotel with a welcoming atmosphere, TownHouse Cavour is known for its warm hospitality and stylish design.
Hotel La Conchiglia: If you prefer to stay by the beach, this family-run hotel in Scilla offers comfortable accommodations with sea views.
Tips for a Memorable Calabria Adventure
To ensure your Calabria adventure is unforgettable, consider these tips:
Rent a Car
While public transportation is available, renting a car is the best way to explore the region at your own pace, especially if you plan to venture into the mountains or visit remote villages.
Check the local calendar for festivals and events, as they offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Calabrian culture and traditions.
Learning a few basic Italian phrases can enhance your experience, as English may not be widely spoken in some rural areas.
Italy uses the Euro (EUR), so be sure to have some cash on hand, especially when visiting smaller towns and villages.
Calabria enjoys a Mediterranean climate, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
Conclusion: Calabria’s Timeless Allure
Calabria, with its stunning coastline, rich history, and mouthwatering cuisine, is a destination that invites travellers to explore a side of Italy that’s often overlooked. Whether you’re considering Calabria vacation packages to discover the region’s diverse landscapes or searching for the best hotels in Reggio Calabria for a relaxing coastal escape, this hidden gem will leave you captivated by its timeless allure. Set off on an Italian odyssey, and let Calabria’s unspoiled beauty and cultural treasures unfold before you as you explore its captivating landscapes and historical treasures.