From coastal roads and charming villages to breathtaking beaches and forested mountains, Calabria has much to offer. Here are our sightseeing recommendations.
The mountainous, often thickly forested interior of the province can be just as rewarding as Calabria’s beaches and archaeological ruins.
Just to the east of Reggio Calabria, the 250-square-mile Aspromonte National Park has stunning mountain scenery and remarkable biodiversity, which can be discovered while hiking or mountain biking along the network of well-marked trails. At 6,414 feet, Montalto is the park’s highest peak and one of the tallest in the Apennines mountain chain. Much of the park is covered by forests of beech trees, silver firs, black pines, holm oaks and chestnut trees. Birders can spot raptors such as peregrine falcons, goshawks, eagle owls and the very rare Bonelli’s eagle.
One of the prettiest drives in Calabria is along SS18, a coastal road that follows the region’s western coast from Villa San Giovanni to Palmi. The fishing village of Scilla is very much worth exploring for its picturesque port, pastel houses and excellent seafood restaurants.
Catanzaro, the capital of Calabria, with a population of 90,000, is often known as the city of the three V’s: for Saint Vitalian, the city’s patron saint; for vento, because winds gust off the Ionian Sea; and for velluto (velvet), because this fabric has historically been produced here. Overlooked by most tourists, the old town of Catanzaro is charming and contains many 17th-century palazzos and baroque portals.
The Italians often refer to Calabria as their Caribbean, for its white sand and translucent azure seas. The best place to observe the truth of this moniker is Praia a Mare, a seaside village on the Gulf of Policastro, at the northern edge of the region, with its mile-long beach. Just to the south of Praia a Mare, tiny Dino Island covers an area of 120 acres.
Water erosion of its limestone cliffs has resulted in numerous spectacular caves, including the Blue Grotto, which appears to be illuminated from below; the Waterfalls Cave, where a torrent plunges into the sea; and the echoing Lion Cave. Boats to Dino Island are easy to find on the waterfront in Praia a Mare.