Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Post from Italy: Crazy for Calabria Italy

Provinces of Calabria in the "toe" o...
Calabria on the Map

For those that enjoy our blog with all the information you need on Costa Rica we wanted to mix things up a little bit. With all the expats living in Costa Rica we just wanted to remind everyone to make sure you know the date you arrived to Costa Rica it might be part of your family history someday. Our blog is made up of expert advice from local Costa Rican Tour guides who work in tourism but myself (Tom Ranieri) and my father (Ralph Ranieri) are incharge of putting it all on the web for you to see.
Our Family name is Ranieri and this December 1st we are celebrating 100 years since our grandparents made the "Adventure Trip" to start their new lives in the USA. They made the trip from Calabria Italy. I (Tom Ranieri) arrived to Costa Rica on January 5th 2001. Take a look at an amazing guest post we have on our blog from a professional writer, Cherrye Moore, an ex-pat, who describes the five things to love about the boot of Italy, Calabria, from where our family started their adventure and which part of it has lead to Costa Rica.

City View of Calabria
 Five Things to Love in the Toe of the Boot

Possibly the least-trekked region in Italy, Calabria boasts majestic landscapes of rugged mountain terrain and never-ending baby blue skies. Surrounded on three sides by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, the Calabrian peninsula stretches to form the toe of the boot and at its narrowest point is only 3.2 kilometers from the island of Sicily.

Yet, with all of this natural beauty, Calabria is still off of the radar for many Italy-bound travelers and is even more untouched by English-speaking expats.

But that is part of her charm. In addition to that rare authenticity, here are five things I love about living in Calabria.

1. Beaches

Beaches compete w/ Costa Rica, WOW!
I grew up in southeast Texas-far from the Padre Island of many a drunken coed’s dreams-and to be honest, was never much of a beach-going girl. However, after my first trip to Calabria in 2003, I was hooked. The region has more than 800 kilometers of coastline and hundreds of beaches that are essentially untouched by international tourists. This means a day at the beach-depending on when and where you go, is either a serene, solitary experience or a family-fun day, filled with generations of locals gathering for a day out with their closest friends.

2. Mountains

Remember the southeast Texas I told you about? Well, in addition to being far from sea-blue beaches it is also F-L-A-T. Nope, no mountains in Texas, so maybe that’s why I am addicted to spending afternoons-and weekends, when I get a chance-in the mountains.

Calabria is home to three national parks, the Aspromonte, with its waterfalls and summits, Pollino, one of Italy’s newest and largest national parks that is home to Europe’s deepest gorge and my personal favorite … La Sila, with its evergreen forest and snow-filled Alpine villages.

3. Medieval Villages

Flag of Calabria
Calabria Flag

Over the years Calabria has been conquered by the Greeks, Romans, Normans, Byzantines, Arabs, French, Spanish … need I go on … and each of these groups left their mark on the area. Many of Calabria’s villages still proudly boast their Medieval beginnings and strolling through an ancient village with narrow alleys and panoramic views epitomizes the Calabrian experience. Some of the best preserved Medieval villages in Calabria are Gerace and Stilo in the province of Reggio Calabria, Altomonte in the province of Cosenza and Badolato and Squillace in the province of Catanzaro.

4. Food and Culture

Technically I’m cheating here by squeezing food and culture under one heading, but here in Calabria the two are undeniably linked.

I often tell people I feel like I’m living in my grandmother’s America … we still hang our clothes out to dry, store close in the middle of the day and generations of families meet for leisurely lunches … even during the week. Oh yes, here in Calabria, authentic southern Italian culture is alive and well … and the fiery red chili peppers, homemade pasta and robust local wine don’t hurt.

5. People

veduta di Reggio Calabria, view of Reggio Calabria
Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica? Nope, CALABRIA ITALY!!

Travelers who visit our bed and breakfast in Catanzaro-Calabria’s capital city-often tell us that Calabrians are the most helpful, generous Italians they’ve met on their trip. Just this week American guests from Seattle told us about the owners of a local wine bar, who upon hearing they were Americans, dashed across the street to introduce them to their English-speaking neighbor (who then gave them her phone number in case they needed help). Last month, guests from Las Vegas returned to our B&B with bags full of fresh fruit and vegetables, straight from someone’s garden they met on a day trip.

After living in bella Calabria for more than four years, I have grown to love the region, not just for the five points I listed above, but for the fact that it is unchartered … for the fact that I don’t run into expats on every corner and hear English on the streets and in the markets. I love Calabria for the history … the traditions … the way of life. And while that might not always be perfect, it is always perfectly Calabrian.

Cherrye Moore is a Calabria tour planner and travel writer living in southern Italy. She writes about expat life for, a site that sells-you guessed it-affordable calling cards to Italy. You can read about expat life on their site or more about traveling in southern Italy on her site, My Bella Vita.

Enhanced by Zemanta

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me, Tom. Hope to see you and your family in Calabria soon!