is the southern most region of Italy, the ankle and toe of the Italian
"boot" - a rugged peninsula where grapevines, fig and
olive trees cling to arid mountainsides, and where the sea crashes
against the cliffs and beaches of its long, and intricate coastline,
which faces east, south and west all at once.
Of the 10 million or
so English-speaking travelers who visit Italy every year, not many
make it this far south. But, Calabria is in the process of being
"discovered" by the "inglese", so this will
change, as more and more people from the UK and North America learn
about this astonishingly beautiful part of the world.
the centuries, successive empires have invaded Calabria and asserted
their domination. The Byzantines, the Romans, and
even the Normans on their way to and from The Crusades
in far-off Jerusalem, have left their mark in Calabria. Even Hannibal
and his army came through, on the backs of elephants after sacking
The Nazis, supposed allies
of the Italian fascists, hunkered down in Calabria in World War
II, only to be driven out by the massed forces of the Allies, who
pushed them north, and eventually back into Germany itself.
Thousands of years ago,
the local people, no fools, removed themselves from the vulnerable
coastal areas to the mountain tops, where they built improbable
towns and villages in mountain canyons and on mountain peaks, making
conquest difficult, and sometimes impossible. There they scratched
out a living on small farms, growing figs, olive and lemon trees,
tending to small herds of goat and sheep. They mined the streams
and rivers for gold. They carved roads and trails, which are in
use even now.
thousands of years, the people here have made pottery, spun wool,
knitted plain garments. They've milked their goats, made bread,
rolled pasta, fermented wine and distilled limoncello, a sweet lemon
aperitif. They have gone about their business, shop-keeping, worshipping
in their numerous churches and duomos, and observing holy days and
feast days around the year with pious gusto.
And they do all of this
today, a self-sufficient, self-reliant, practical, stubborn, no
nonsense people whom other Italians say are "testa dura"
- hard headed.
In ancient times, there
were periods when Calabria could boast wealth and importance, but
by the end of the 16th century, Calabria fell into decline, its
people some of the poorest in all Italy. Their poverty propelled
the mass emigration of the late 19th and early 20th century, when
millions of Calabrese came down from their mountain redoubts and
clamoured onto ships that took them to "new worlds", particularly
in the USA and Canada.
now...Calabria is reclaiming its past glory and pride, tired of
being the forgotten and neglected part of Italy it grew accustomed
to being during the last 500 years or so and ready to transform
itself into a premier destination. It's got everything going for
When you come to the
"new" Calabria, this place which has been inhabited for
over 3,000 years, you will be dumbfounded by its scenery - whether
you stay up in the mountains, or find your way along the winding
coastal highways, to Calabria's seaside towns and beaches. And once
you've arrived, and settled in, you will have the opportunity to
savour the hearty, tasty, Calabrese cuisine, all made from local
produce, meats, fish and fruit.
It's true that the Calabrese
are not quite ready for masses of English-speaking tourists. Indeed,
you won't find too many people who converse confidently in English.
Nor will you find many signs printed in English, or be able to buy
English books, newspapers or magazines. But, so what?
Visit Calabria now -
before the crowds arrive. You will get by with very few problems
if you are patient and respectful, and all your needs will be met
and you will have the vacation of your life!