BeanScene Magazine

Charming Calabria

From the July 2014 issue.
Charming Calabria

In the toe of Italy’s boot is a land filled with great diversity and charm. The region of Calabria combines the wonders of nature with the remnants and tales of its fascinating history.

By Danielle Gullaci

There is no famous leaning tower here, nor are there any gondola-laden canals or world-renowned fountains. Yes Calabria is far-removed from many of the tourist hotspots of the north, but that just adds to its intrigue.

Calabria is bordered mainly by ocean, with the exception of its northern section, running along the mountainous Basilicata region. At its southern tip, the Strait of Messina separates it from the region of Sicily. Just a few kilometres apart, the two regions are connected by a regular and efficient ferry service.

Juxtaposing Calabria’s extensive coastline is its wild hinterland, filled with lakes and waterfalls; and its mountains that form the southern part of the Apennines.

Calabria is split into five provinces – its capital Catanzaro, Reggio Calabria, Cosenza, Crotone and Vibo Valentia.

Over the centuries, Calabria has been conquered and settled by many. Most have left their mark in some way – some more so than others. Among them are the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and Bourbons.

Calabria’s art is also firmly intertwined with its history – and some of its buildings, churches, castles, paintings, statues and archaeological areas are testament to this. Many of these marvellous creations serve as another piece of the jigsaw puzzle, helping to shed light on the story of this land.

Our fascinating journey of discovery begins in Reggio Calabria in the region’s far south. The first port of call is the Costa Viola, which translates to Violet Coast and is named as such because of the colours that reflect onto the sea at sunset. It is a beautiful stretch of coast that runs along Reggio Calabria’s Tyrrhenian shore, from Villa San Giovanni, through Scilla and Bagnara Calabra, and up to Palmi in the province’s north.

The next stop along this touristic route is the Vibo Valentia province, with a coastal border that continues along the Tyrrhenian Sea. While Reggio Calabria is famed for its Costa Viola, Vibo Valentia is renowned for Costa degli Dei – simply translating to Coast of the Gods, and the name says it all. Seaside resort towns along this strip are Tropea, Capo Vaticano, Pizzo Calabro, Nicotera, Briatico, Zambrone and Parghèlia.

Undoubtedly one of the most celebrated spots along Costa Bella is Tropea, a stunning coastal gem revered throughout Italy and known around the world.

The city of Catanzaro has a unique single arch bridge, built in 1960. It is one of the area’s most famous landmarks. The main town was built on a rock divided into two parts by the Fiumarella Valley. The steel and concrete bridge connects the two sides. This unique piece of architecture was designed by architect Riccardo Morandi and is known as the Viadotto Morandi.

If a beautiful beach is what you’re after, head to the Gulf of Squillace along Catanzaro’s Ionian coast and pay a visit to Squillace itself, Montepaone and Soverato.

Dubbed the ‘pearl of the Ionian’, Soverato features stunning beaches and an impressive botanical garden.

In Calabria’s east, we arrive in Crotone. It is a relatively new province as the land previously formed part of Catanzaro. Crotone became its own province in 1992.
The coastal areas of Crotone look out to the Ionian Sea, with water in alternating shades of blue and green. Of particular interest is the resort area of Le Castella.

Completing our trip of Calabria, we arrive in its largest province, Cosenza, in the region’s north. Cosenza accounts for close to half the entire area of Calabria and is much more mountainous and hilly than its fellow provinces, making it perfectly suited to hiking, cycling and horseback riding.

Calabria is so diverse that there is something to suit various types of holidaymakers. For those after a relaxing beachside escape, visit one of the renowned seaside resorts. If a taste of history is what you’re after, head to one of the region’s archeological sites or explore an ancient village. For the more adventurous, stay in one of the mountainous areas to take part in numerous activities. Here, in Italy’s deep south, is a fascinating world filled with contrasts and traditions.

To read the full story, pick up your copy of the July/August 2014 issue.

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