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Top 5 things to do in Calabria

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Top 5 things to do in Calabria
Slow down in the southwest of Italy! The wonderful sun-kissed region of Calabria is a hidden marvel, brimming with everything you could wish for in a summer holiday. Yet Calabria remains one of Italy’s quieter regions, located right at the toe of the boot-shaped peninsula.
From fabulous beaches, a fascinating world of ancient history dotted in both sleepy villages and archaeological sites, to an epic food and wine scene, and great parks of natural beauty, there truly is something to keep all the family happy in Calabria. Here are our top five things to do in the region.
Image of animals grazing on grass on the hills in Monte Pollino National Park in Italy

1. Grace the National Parks

Step into Calabria and at times you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a bucolic Renaissance painting. There are three national parks across the region, but our favourite is Monte Pollino National Park. Go on charming walks through the flora and fauna-filled hills and valleys at your own pace, coming across bridges, streams, and quaint villages along the way. You can also go cycling and rafting! The wildest part is the canyon Gole del Raganello, home to waterfalls and natural pools, and you may also uncover the Garden of the Gods, an ancient forest of loricate pines.
More enchantment lies in Calabria’s beautiful Sila Natural Park, one of Italy’s oldest national parks and home to a rich array of native plant life and threatened species, including wolves, otters, and wild cats. Between the mountains and the plains, there’s a wild and divine spirit here. You can enjoy a number of outdoor activities, or simply tuck into a picnic in a picture-perfect spot.
Image of an ancient building surrounded by sea Ionian coast in the ancient city of Kroton (Crotone),

2. Delve into ancient Greece

Ancient Greece profoundly influenced Calabria, and even today you can take a step back into antiquity and witness many classical treasures in an array of museums and archaeological sites. Right on the Ionian coast is the ancient city of Kroton (Crotone), which at one time was the cradle of civilisation. Its claim to fame is that it produced great doctors, Olympic athletes, and the great mathematician, Pythagoras.
Venture further south into ancient Rome with a trip to Scolacium Archaeological Park, which houses the remains of this elite civilisation. Go with a guide who will show you around the theatres and amphitheatres, roads and streets, and innovative waterways.
Slightly more off-the-beaten track, you might also want to head even further south to the medieval city of Stilo, which may feel like you’ve stepped back in time with its perfectly preserved Old Town. One of the highlights here is the Byzantine Church and an 11th century Norman castle.
Image of buildings set along the coastline of reggio calabria in Italy

3. Discover the Riace Bronzes

Speaking of antiquities, in the coastal city of Reggio Calabria you’ll find the National Archaeological Museum. In this great building lies treasure that we’re sure Indiana Jones would like to get his hands on: the ancient Riace Bronzes.
These life-size statues of naked, bearded Greek warriors are one of the greatest artefacts from ancient Greece, and are believed to date back to around 450 BC. They were discovered by a lucky diver in the 1970s, just off the coast of Riace.
Reggio Calabria, incidentally, is located at the exact centre of the Mediterranean and is known as the city of bergamot - there’s even an entire museum dedicated to this citrus fruit’s traditions! While in Reggio Calabria, visit another crucial emblem: its Aragonese castle, a fortress with circular towers.
Image of old buildings set in the rocks in the ancient ghost town city of Pentedattilo in Italy

4. Venture to a ghost town

If you have a penchant for the supernatural, then be sure to add Pentedattilo to your itinerary. Located on a cliff and named for the fact it looks like a giant hand with five fingers, this town was abandoned in the 1960s. It’s teeming with mystery as it has always seemingly been tinged with misfortune, from ancient feuds and a massacre to earthquakes and landslides. If you’re looking for a surreal yet captivating experience, this is the place, and if you feel daring, you can even go rock climbing here.
Image of beach and sea with coastline buildings in the city of Tropea, considered the pearl of Calabria

5. Explore the coast

Did we mention how spellbinding Calabria’s coastline is? To the west lies the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea, while to the east is the Ionian Sea. Both offer deep blue waters and 300 miles of pure white sands that rival those found in the Caribbean. Our favourite spots are around the city of Tropea, considered the pearl of Calabria, where you’ll find golden coves, fishing villages, and bustling marinas.
Go sailing or on boat trips to the nearby Aeolian Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or the volcanic islands of Stromboli and Vulcano, which are home to open-air spas. You can also unwind in Tropea’s surrounding olive groves and vineyards.
We also suggest you head to Scilla, which is just over an hour’s drive from Tropea and seemingly almost touches Sicily. Scilla is home to a pocket of beautiful fishing villages, including Chianalea, which is known as the Venice of the South. Come in time for sunset for romantic moments, before bobbing into a local trattoria to enjoy a feast of fish dishes, including the local speciality of swordfish.
Image of buildings on a hillside in the city of Scilla in Italy

Discover the real Italy with Citalia

Are you ready to explore Calabria? Citalia are the UK’s leading Italy specialist with over 90 years' experience in tailoring holidays to Italy. Experts are on hand every step of the way to ensure you make memories to last a lifetime. It’s never too late to start planning your Italian escape!
Visit citalia.com to discover the real Italy on your next adventure. Andiamo!
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