Like much of southern Italy, Calabria is coming alive with international tourists who are discovering the secret Italians have known for years. With more than 800 kilometers of coastline, medieval villages and seaside towns, you can’t choose a bad location, but if you are looking for a great base for a weekend in Calabria, then consider the region’s capital city, Catanzaro.
Where is Catanzaro?
Catanzaro is just 30 minutes from the Lamezia Terme international airport and is idyllically located between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, making it easy for travellers to visit beaches on both sides of the peninsula within the same day.
Mountains in Calabria
If you can’t take the Calabrian heat, stay away from the beaches. La Sila National Park is just 45 minutes from Catanzaro, where you can stroll through Alpine villages and national forests, enjoy a traditional Calabrese lunch or hike along any of the 31 designated nature trails.
Ruins in Calabria
The Archaeological Park of Scolacium, or Roccelletta as we say in Calabria, features Roman and Greek ruins that date back to the 4th Century BC. Just 90 minutes north in the province of Crotone, are the ruins of Capo Colonna and the last remaining temple dedicated to Hera Lacinia, from 470 BC.
Food in Calabria
Calabrian food is among the best in Italy, with specialties that include ‘nduja, a super spicy sausage spread, soppressata, a spicy sausage or capocollo, a thinly-sliced pork lunch meat. Can you spot a trend here?
If pork is not your thing, then try the fresh vegetables – particularly the prized aubergine or Tropea onions, fresh figs, bergamot or cedri fruit, the local olive oil or the mamma of all Calabrian spices – the red chilli pepper.
Calabria is one of Italy’s best value destinations. You can rent a car at the Lamezia Terme airport for as little as €30 a day and plan on eating that great Calabrian food for as little as €20 per person.
As it happens, I have first-hand knowledge of a good, clean B&B near Catanzaro Lido where you can find a double room, with breakfast, free parking and wireless Internet for €60 a night in high season. (OK, I run the B&B but it’s still true!)
Cherrye Moore is a Calabria travel consultant and freelance writer living in southern Italy. She writes about travel for MNUI Travel Insurance and about living and traveling in southern Italy on her site, My Bella Vita. She and her Calabrese husband own Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast in Catanzaro.