Reviewed on Oct. 27, 2021
Reviewed on Nov. 8, 2020
The pointed toe on the boot of Italy is a region skirted with ruggedly beautiful coastlines, where traditions are kept alive in local cuisine and historic towns.
Discover a necklace of white-sand beaches decorating the coastline, endless olive groves and cliff-top villages perched over cerulean-blue oceans in Calabria at the southern tip of Italy. With a central spine of rugged mountain ridges that tumble down into the rocky promontories and sheltered bays of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas, Calabria is a region of undeniable beauty. Pick from a suite of secluded beaches and find ancient temples and churches tucked into craggy cliff faces. Experience a world where time stands still.
The regional capital is Catanzaro, an Ancient Greek city with a wealth of historic buildings and piazzas crowded with lush trees. Visit the Renaissance Church of the Santissimo Rosario and the 11th-century Byzantine Church of Sant’Omobono. Reggio Calabria overlooks the Strait of Messina and the shores of Sicily. Learn about the region’s ancient history at this fast-paced city’s exciting museums.
Away from the cities, you’ll become acquainted with Calabria’s true character. Explore winding mountain roads that lead through olive groves and ancient villages with Norman-era ruins. Discover the exquisite streetscapes of Cosenza’s historic center and dine in restaurants that have served patrons for centuries. Try traditional Calebrese dishes, which showcase the spicy flavors of the peperoncino chilli. Septembers in Diamante bring the annual Peperoncino Festival, when you can try the hot pepper in anything from pasta to gelato.
Travel along the Tyrrhenian coastline to find the secluded beaches sheltered by Capo Vaticano and visit the family-friendly beach resort of Amantea. Explore the seaport town of Pizzo and see medieval villas etched into the cliffs that overlook the mesmerizing blue sea in Tropea. On the Ionian Coast, you can visit the beach of Caminia nestled beneath the Pietra Grande cliffs and eat fresh seafood in Soverato. Reach Calabria’s southwestern tip to find the Mediterranean resort town of Scilla.
Reach Calabria by plane to airports in Reggio Calabria, Sant’Anna and Sant’Eufemia, which has a free bus shuttle to Tropea. Explore the coast via train or rent a car and enjoy the sights at your own pace. September and October are the best times to visit as temperatures become milder and the Italian vacation season comes to a close. With spicy dishes, exciting scenery and rich traditions, Italy’s toe has plenty of kick.