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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Calabria - The Toe of Italy's Boot

Coat of arms of the southern Italian region of...
Coat of arms of the southern Italian region of Calabria Italiano: Stemma della regione Calabria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pizzo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By []Elizabeth Waddington

Calabria may be one of the poorest Italian regions, and little known amongst the British, but it is also one of the most intriguing regions of the country. Its Ionian and Tyrrhenian coasts are extremely popular with Italian holidaymakers who throng to the region throughout August while British holidaymakers seem to head for the a la mode resorts of Puglia, the heel.

The problem with Calabria is that the modern world has brought with it organised crime, and organised crime has funded over-development along some, though not all, of this coastline. While corruption and dodgy dealings are rife in this poor area, there are some corners that have retained a delightful old-fashioned charm and simplicity and tourists need only use a modicum of common sense and they need not fear being the target of crime any more than anywhere else in Italy - the problems predominantly affect insiders, not those visiting from elsewhere.

The northern section of the Tyrrhenian coast is characterised by holiday complexes that crowd the flat littoral. The towns of Diamante, Belvedere and Paola are welcome breaks in the monotony. South of the River Savuto is the narrowest part of the peninsula, which was only reclaimed from malarial swamps in the last hundred years. Fortunately, though there are still mosquitoes, they no longer carry the disease.

Further south, the scenery and seascapes make the whole journey worthwhile as you travel south along the Autostrada del Sole towards Sicily. Tropea is perhaps the prettiest of a number of scenic spots on the southern Tyrrhenian coast and there are a number of lovely, and not usually overcrowded, beaches nearby. Capo Vaticano is home to some of this coastline's most popular beaches, though the beaches at Grotticelle and Tonicello are both large enough that you can get away from the busyness.

The Ionian coast of Calabria is less developed than the Tyrrhenian coast. It consists mainly of one long, flat sandy strip, and generally has cleaner water than the other coastline. This coastline is perfect if all you care about is finding a sandy beach to chill out on - you will find many of them here, both wild and undeveloped and or glitzy, like something from a brochure. On this stretch of coastline you will also find the interesting historical towns of Rossano and Crotone and the extreme eastern point of Capo Colonna, which has some lovely bathing spots nearby and you can see a famous column, one part of an important temple serving all Calabria. The regions best collection of Greek ruins can be found at Locri. A short way inland, overlooking the sea, the mediaeval towns of Squillace and Gerace will be of interest to history lovers.

Calabria is an interesting region - beautiful and scruffy in turn. In the end, it does indeed perhaps resemble the toe of an old boot - a little scuffed in places but putting its best foot forward. So if you want a beach holiday and are looking for somewhere a little different to visit then Calabria, cheap and cheerful as it can be, could be a good option.

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Article Source: [] Calabria - The Toe of Italy's Boot