Guest post by Cherrye Moore
A couple of months ago, Cecil invited me to write about five of my favorite attractions in my adopted hometown, Catanzaro, Italy. Catanzaro is the capital of Calabria-the region located in the toe of the boot, between Basilicata and Sicily. Today, I’d like to expand a bit and tell you about five of my favorite destinations in Calabria.
1) Le Castella – Le Castella engulfs a tiny island in the province of Crotone in a sleepy village of the same name. There are few markers and tourism-except in July and August-is minimal and the friendly villagers of Le Castella are oblivious to the fame of its namesake landmark. While the origins of Le Castella are lost in time, legend links the castle to mythical Ogygia, the island where the sea goddess Calypso lived when she held Ulysses hostage in Homer’s The Odyssey. Today, Le Castella stands, glistening in the sun that reflects off of the Ionian waters and is one of the most popular iconic images of the region.
2) Diamante – Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but one glance at the star-studded waters off of Calabria’s west coast and even the most macho, masculine man will be mesmerized. Diamante-or diamonds, as we’d say in English-has a bright white pebble and sand beach and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful fishermen villages in Italy. In the early 1980s, starving artists without a canvas to paint on took to the historical center of Diamante and unleashed their artistic talents on the town. Today, there are around 150 hand-painted murals, earning the city the nickname … “the City of Art.” The city is also famous for its annual red chili festival, held at the beginning of each September.
(Photos: Looking over Diamante with Cirella in the distance, courtesy of Calabria Online;)
3) Cirella – Cirella is just a few minutes north of Diamante and features stretching green hills of olive trees and citrus groves. The island is divided into two sections-the beach and the old town-but it is the old city, sitting high upon Cirella’s hill with historical monuments and Roman ruins that is most intriguing. Many people visit both Cirella and Diamante in one trip.
4) Tropea – Tropea features one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world and is one of Calabria’s most well-known destinations. Its emerald-green waters meet a swooping cliff that is topped by the iconic Santa Maria dell’Isola Church. Unlike other Calabrian towns, Tropea is maximizing its tourism efforts and has created a true beach resort for people of all ages.
5) Pizzo – Located just half an hour from Tropea on the Tyrrhenian Coast, Pizzo is a pint-sized fishing village that is full of history, mystery and some of the best homemade gelato in the country. The main piazza features views of the Mediterranean and endless tartufo-domes of homemade hazelnut and chocolate ice cream with a gooey chocolate center, covered with cocoa. The piazza is overshadowed by the Murat Castle, named for Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother-in-law who was executed inside and the should-be famous Chiesetta di Piedigrotta is just a few minutes away.
Cherrye Moore is a Calabria tour consultant and freelance writer living in southern Italy. She writes about travel for MNUI.com and about living and traveling in Calabria on her own site, My Bella Vita.