Have you ever wondered what it’s like to explore ‘the boot’ of Italy? Well, in the ‘toe’ of the Italian peninsula lies Calabria. This chaotic and proud region is bursting with culture and character, making it a truly unique and underrated vacation destination. Calabria certainly lives up to the Italian cliche most people conjure in their mind – Vespa’s whizzing around every corner and siestas being followed religiously by the locals.
So, if you’re considering a trip to the Bel Paese and want to find the hidden gems of Calabria, we’ve partnered with New York Travel company AllTheRooms to help you start exploring.
On the promenade of Reggio Calabria, you’ll find Athena’s Monument, an icon of the city and a must-see for tourists. Athena Promachos, the warrior goddess the statue depicts, stands proudly on the promenade, facing out to the sea, ready to protect Calabria in its time of need (according to legend). Behind the statue is a fantastic amphitheatre, which is open to the public too. On a rough sea day, you’ll see the waves lashing against the monument – just don’t stand too close with your camera!
The Coast of the Gods (Costa Degli Dei)
Forget the popular and well known Italian beaches in Sicily or Tuscany: the beaches of Calabria are Italy’s true hidden gems. The Coast of the Gods is the name given to the Calabrian Tyrrhenian coast in the south of Italy. Some of the resorts along the coast include Zambrone, Vaticano, and Nicotera. We, however, recommend Tropea, a small east coast town in Calabria. As one of the most breathtaking beaches, Tropea is well worth a visit. The sands are similar to that on a Caribbean Island: white, powdery and leading up to crystal blue waters.
Considered to be a symbol of Calabria, the historic Castello Aragonese is said to go way back to the early Middle Ages. Impressively preserved, the castle has been Reggio Calabria’s main form of defence for hundreds of years. To get up close and personal with the castle’s architecture, walk along the defensive towers or climb the battlements for a better look. This pick is certainly one for the history buffs.
If you’re looking for a hidden gem in Reggio Calabria which relates to food, La Tavernetta is our pick. It’s among Calabria’s best eats and you really won’t struggle to see why. You’ll notice that many of their recipes are created using some of the best local ingredients, from the cuts of pork, cheeses, cured meats and anise seed and mushrooms. And you can really tell when eating the food! The dining room is warm and colourful and there is plenty of space to accommodate large groups, as well as smaller parties too.
Contrada Pietrastorta Condera, 45, 89126 Reggio Calabria RC
+39 0965 318051
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Reggio Calabria
If you’re looking for a culture fix in Calabria, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Reggio Calabria is the place to go. This nondescript building houses a stunning archaeological collection and is now southern Italy’s finest museum. The several floors that the museum covers houses artefacts through millennia of history of the area. Some of the best works you must see during your visit are the Bronzi di Riace. Two bronze statues, which were discovered way back in the 70s by a chemist on a seabed and are truly fascinating to see. You’ll have to enter a decontamination chamber for around three minutes if you want to see them. Three minutes versus a lifetime of memories of this interesting artefacts. It’s a no-brainer.
Piazza Giuseppe De Nava, 26, 89123 Reggio Calabria RC
+39 0965 898272
Calabria is home to plenty more hidden gems – too many to list – so remember to get off the beaten track and discover your own secret world in Italy.
Sage Fitzpatrick is a travel blogger currently living in London. She can be found drinking tea, reading and travelling the world. When she’s not travelling she spends her time blogging about her travels over at A Virtual Postcard.
And for more adventures in Italy and beyond, don’t forget to check out alltherooms.com