Image via WikipediaBy Phil Hanlon
At the toe of Italy's boot, right in the south of the country, can be found the wild and unspoilt region of Calabria. Most well-known for its seaside resorts - no part of the area is more than 50 km from the sea - Calabria's towns are modern creations that have been built for the tourists. However, if you wander off the tourist trail, there are many historic villages high in the mountains and the region is famous for its Greek and Roman heritage, with ruins in the countryside and artefacts in the museums.
Some of the best Greek and Roman ruins can be found in the towns of Cosanza and Reggio Calabria, such as baths, theatres and even bridges. Further afield, recent digs have uncovered evidence of ancient villages at Sibari, Crotone, Catanzaro, Locri, Vibo Valentia, and there is undoubtedly more to discover in this historic region of Italy. Many of the artefacts that have been found at these digs are now on display in one of Calabria's many archaeological museums, including the National Museum in Reggio Calabria. Contained here is one of the most important collections in all of Italy, including Byzantine art, relics of Bronze and Iron Age tombs and the world-famous Bronzes of Riace, two large bronze statues of warriors dating from the fifth century BC.
Sun, Sea and Snow
Most of the visitors to Calabria are visiting the region for one thing only; the holiday resorts. In the winter, too, Calabria is popular with skiers from the south of Italy, who don't want to travel to the far north for their fun. The most popular seaside resort is probably Tropea, which not only has fabulous sandy beaches but a beautiful old town to explore when the southern sun gets too hot! The highlight of the town is undoubtedly the monastery of Santa Maria dell'Isola, built on a promontory with steep rocks on three sides and a pleasant beach on the fourth. If the temperatures allow, you can walk out to the church along a pretty path lined with traditional fisherman's caves. Tropea is also probably the liveliest resort if you are looking to stay somewhere with lots of bars and restaurants.
Festivals and Food
The Calabrian people are very proud of their heritage and their abilities as fishermen. Fresh seafood is available wherever you go, is even celebrated in events like the Swordfish Festival in Bagnara during July. The region is still quite old-fashioned in many ways, and religion dominates the way of life in villages, meaning there are some spectacular Easter processions throughout Calabria, as well as sporadic events asking for protection for local fishermen. If you prefer to know more about the cultural side of Calabrian life, then Villagio Mancuso's Folklore Festival, held every September, should tell you all you need to know about local costume, music and legends.
The Author, Phil Hanlon, writes for Holiday Home Rentals who have a selection of Villas in Calabria and Apartments in Calabria which can be rented direct from their owners.
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