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Experience Calabria: Your Essential Holiday Destination Guide

Calabria: Your Ultimate Holiday Destination Guide

History of the Destination

Calabria, located in the southernmost part of Italy, boasts a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The region has been inhabited since ancient times, with evidence of human presence dating back to the Paleolithic era. Over the centuries, Calabria has been influenced by various civilisations, including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, and Arabs, each leaving their mark on the region’s culture, architecture, and cuisine.

During the Greek and Roman periods, Calabria flourished as a centre of trade, agriculture, and culture, with cities like Reggio Calabria, Crotone, and Locri Epizephyrii playing important roles in the Mediterranean world. The region’s strategic location made it a target for conquest and colonisation, leading to centuries of conflict and domination by foreign powers.

In the Middle Ages, Calabria was ruled by various feudal lords, including the Normans, Swabians, and Angevins, who built castles, churches, and fortifications that still dot the landscape today. During the Renaissance, Calabria experienced a period of prosperity and artistic flourishing, with cities like Cosenza, Gerace, and Tropea becoming centres of culture and learning.

In modern times, Calabria has faced challenges such as poverty, emigration, and organised crime, but it has also seen efforts to preserve its cultural heritage, promote tourism, and improve infrastructure. Today, Calabria is known for its stunning coastline, rugged mountains, and rich culinary traditions, making it a popular destination for travellers seeking history, nature, and authentic Italian experiences.

Information on the Location

Calabria is located in the southernmost part of Italy, forming the “toe” of the Italian “boot.” It is bordered by the Ionian Sea to the east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, and the Strait of Messina to the south, separating it from the island of Sicily. Calabria is known for its diverse landscapes, including rugged mountains, fertile plains, and picturesque coastline, as well as its rich cultural heritage, ancient ruins, and delicious cuisine.

Best Time of the Year to Visit

The best time to visit Calabria depends on your preferences and interests:

  • **Spring (March to May)**: Spring is a beautiful time to visit Calabria, with mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and fewer tourists. It’s a great time for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and exploring historic sites, as well as enjoying local festivals and events.
  • **Summer (June to August)**: Summer is the peak tourist season in Calabria, with hot temperatures, long days, and bustling beaches. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports along the coast, as well as exploring historic towns, sampling local cuisine, and attending cultural festivals.
  • **Autumn (September to November)**: Autumn offers pleasant weather, vibrant foliage, and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time to visit if you prefer quieter beaches and attractions. It’s also a great time for hiking in the mountains, wine tasting in the countryside, and attending harvest festivals.
  • **Winter (December to February)**: Winter is a quieter time to visit Calabria, with cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall. It’s perfect for exploring historic cities like Reggio Calabria, Cosenza, and Tropea, as well as enjoying winter sports in the Sila National Park and Aspromonte National Park.

Best Sites to Visit

  • **Reggio Calabria**: Explore the historic city of Reggio Calabria, known for its ancient origins, beautiful waterfront, and world-class museums. Visitors can admire the Riace Bronzes, and ancient Greek statues discovered off the coast, as well as explore the Aragonese Castle, Cathedral of Calabria, and National Archaeological Museum.
  • **Tropea**: Discover the charming town of Tropea, perched on a cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Visitors can stroll through narrow streets, admire medieval architecture, and relax on stunning beaches like Spiaggia di Tropea and Capo Vaticano, as well as enjoy panoramic views from the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola.
  • **Sila National Park**: Immerse yourself in nature at Sila National Park, a vast protected area known for its pristine forests, lakes, and mountains. Visitors can hike along scenic trails, spot diverse wildlife like wolves and deer, and enjoy outdoor activities like skiing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Best Excursions to Do

  • **Boat Tour of the Aeolian Islands**: Embark on a boat tour of the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago located off the northern coast of Calabria. Visitors can explore islands like Stromboli, Lipari, and Volcano, swim in crystal-clear waters, and admire stunning landscapes, volcanic craters, and thermal springs.
  • **Wine Tasting in Ciro**: Discover the wine-growing region of Ciro, located on the Ionian coast of Calabria. Visitors can tour vineyards, sample a variety of wines like Gaglioppo and Greco Bianco, and learn about the region’s winemaking traditions and history, as well as enjoy traditional Calabrian cuisine and hospitality.
  • **Excursion to Aspromonte National Park**: Explore the rugged beauty of Aspromonte National Park, a protected area located in the southernmost part of Calabria. Visitors can hike through ancient forests, explore mountain villages like Gambarie d’Aspromonte and Amendolea, and visit landmarks like the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Polsi and the Devil’s Bridge.

Best Beaches to Visit

  • **Tropea Beach**: Relax on the golden sands of Tropea Beach, one of Calabria’s most famous and picturesque beaches. Visitors can swim in clear blue waters, sunbathe on lounge chairs, and enjoy amenities like beach bars, restaurants, and water sports rentals.
  • **Capo Vaticano**: Soak up the sun on the shores of Capo Vaticano, a stunning coastal area known for its rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can explore secluded beaches like Grotticelle and Tono, as well as enjoy snorkelling, diving, and boat tours.
  • **Scilla and Chianalea**: Discover the charming seaside village of Scilla and its historic district of Chianalea, known for its colourful houses, narrow streets, and panoramic views of the Strait of Messina. Visitors can relax on pebble beaches, swim in calm waters, and enjoy fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants.

Best Food & Drink Places to Visit

  • **Trattorias and Pizzerias**: Sample traditional Calabrian cuisine at trattorias and pizzerias, where you can enjoy dishes like ‘nduja (spicy sausage), swordfish, eggplant parmigiana, and pasta with sardines. Don’t forget to try regional specialities like Caciocavallo cheese, Tropea onions, and ‘nduja pizza.
  • **Seafood Restaurants**: Indulge in fresh seafood at seafood restaurants and tavernas along the coast, where you can savour dishes like grilled swordfish, fried calamari, seafood risotto, and seafood linguine. Be sure to pair your meal with a glass of local wine or limoncello liqueur.
  • **Gelaterias and Pasticcerias**: Treat yourself to gelato and pastries at gelaterias and pasticcerias, where you can indulge in flavours like pistachio, lemon, almond, and chocolate. Don’t miss out on traditional desserts like cannoli, sfogliatella, and granita.

Hidden Gems to Visit

  • **Gerace**: Explore the medieval town of Gerace, located in the Aspromonte Mountains, known for its well-preserved historic centre, ancient churches, and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can wander through narrow alleys, admire Byzantine mosaics, and visit landmarks like the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
  • **Pentedattilo**: Discover the ghost town of Pentedattilo, nestled in the Aspromonte Mountains, known for its abandoned houses, crumbling churches, and eerie atmosphere. Visitors can explore the ruins, hike to the top of the mountain, and enjoy panoramic views of the Ionian coast.
  • **Locri Epizephyrii**: Visit the ancient Greek city of Locri Epizephyrii, located near the modern town of Locri, known for its archaeological site, museum, and ruins dating back to the 7th century BC. Visitors can explore ancient temples, tombs, and theatres, as well as learn about the city’s history and significance.

Best Budget Hotels

  • **B&Bs and Guesthouses**: Stay at budget-friendly bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in towns and villages across Calabria, where you can enjoy comfortable accommodations, personalized service, and local hospitality. Many B&Bs offer amenities like free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking.
  • **Agriturismos**: Experience rural hospitality at agriturismos, farm stays, and countryside retreats in Calabria’s interior, where you can stay in rustic accommodations, enjoy homemade meals made with local ingredients, and participate in farm activities like olive picking and winemaking.

Best Mid-Range Hotels

  • **Family-Run Hotels**: Choose from a variety of mid-range hotels, family-run inns, and boutique hotels in coastal towns and cities like Tropea, Scilla, and Reggio Calabria. These hotels offer comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and central locations near beaches, restaurants, and attractions.
  • **Resort Hotels**: Relax in style at resort hotels and beachfront properties along the coast, where you can enjoy amenities like swimming pools, spa facilities, and gourmet restaurants. Many resorts offer all-inclusive packages, entertainment programmes, and activities for guests of all ages.

Best Boutique Hotels

  • **Historic Palazzi**: Stay in historic palazzi, mansions, and villas converted into boutique hotels and luxury accommodations in cities like Reggio Calabria, Cosenza, and Gerace. These properties offer elegant rooms, period furnishings, and personalised service in unique and atmospheric settings.
  • **Design Hotels**: Experience contemporary luxury at design hotels and stylish boutique properties in trendy neighbourhoods and coastal resorts across Calabria. These hotels feature sleek interiors, modern amenities, and innovative design elements, as well as gourmet restaurants and rooftop bars with panoramic views.

Best Luxury Hotels

  • **Five-Star Resorts**: Indulge in luxury at five-star resorts, spa hotels, and exclusive properties along the coast and in the countryside, where you can enjoy opulent accommodations, world-class amenities, and impeccable service. These hotels offer everything from private beaches and infinity pools to gourmet dining and wellness programs.
  • **Historic Grand Hotels**: Retreat to historic grand hotels and iconic landmarks in Calabria, where you can immerse yourself in elegance, glamour, and old-world charm. These hotels feature sumptuous suites, fine dining restaurants, and lavish spas, as well as stunning architecture and breathtaking views.

Best Transport Options

Getting around Calabria is easy, thanks to its well-developed transportation network and diverse options:

  • **Car Rental**: Renting a car is a convenient option for exploring Calabria’s countryside, coastline, and remote villages. There are several car rental companies located at airports, train stations, and major cities, offering a range of vehicles to suit different budgets and preferences.
  • **Public Transport**: Calabria has a network of buses, trains, and ferries that connect major cities, towns, and tourist destinations. Visitors can purchase tickets at stations or online and enjoy scenic journeys through the region’s diverse landscapes, including mountains, valleys, and coastlines.
  • **Ferry Services**: Ferries operate between Calabria and the nearby islands of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, providing convenient and scenic transportation options for travellers. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline and sea, as well as explore islands like Stromboli, Lipari, and Volcano.

Currency Information

The official currency of Italy is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, and credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops. It’s advisable to carry some cash for small purchases and transactions in rural areas or markets.

Finding the Best Flights on TravelZine Flight Comparison Site

Planning your trip to Calabria? Let TravelZine Flight Comparison Site help you find the best deals on flights to major airports like Lamezia Terme International Airport (SUF), Reggio Calabria Airport (REG), and Crotone Airport (CRV). With its user-friendly search engine and extensive database of airlines and fares, TravelZine ensures that you get the most competitive prices and convenient travel options for your journey to this beautiful region.

Final Thoughts

Calabria, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine, offers an unforgettable holiday experience for travellers seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on beautiful beaches, or indulging in local delicacies, Calabria promises endless opportunities for discovery and enjoyment. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to plan your ultimate holiday in Calabria and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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