TRAVEL JOURNAL

The Exquisite Scent of Bergamotto It's something in the air...

Photo courtesy of Geotag Aeroview

Photo courtesy of Geotag Aeroview

Scent is one of our five senses, it has an invisible force that has the power to evoke memories and even change our mood. Perfume has been a powerful mood enhancer used for centuries. 

When developing new scents, master perfumers seek out the best resources to create a balanced scent consisting of top, middle and base notes. Many of the finest perfumes are composed of the purest ingredients sourced from all over the world. Italy is no stranger to a perfumer’s extensive repertoire of ingredients in composing a scent. The bergamot (citrus bergamia) grown in Calabria is one of the most prized ingredients frequently used as a top note in many popular fragrances on the market. The essence of bergamot is said to have a powerful mood enhancing effect evoking a feeling of happiness.

Bergamot is a rare exotic fruit often described as a cross between a bitter orange and a lemon. It is zesty, floral and fruity creating a rich rounded scent and is considered one of the finest of the citrus notes. The essence is derived from the rind of the bergamot – the same essence giving Earl Grey tea its distinct but familiar scent.

Production of this rare fruit is limited to small coastal areas along the Ionian Sea in the province of Reggio di Calabria. Bergamot thrives in this area of Southern Calabria; a climate characterized by enduring, hot summers, rain in the spring and mild winters. The harvest runs from October to February; in the early months it evokes a softer, floral-woody scent, in the later months the fruit transforms into a fresher-citrus scent. The combined weather conditions and soil is the secret behind the success of bergamots making Calabria the largest global producer. 

Luxury brand Dior is world renowned for their exquisite fragrances and has an on-going love affair with Calabrian bergamot. Every year thousands of organically grown bergamot trees are harvested for the house of Dior as it is a key ingredient in all Dior perfumes. Dior's master perfumers believe capturing a scent is both an art and a science and spend years developing scents based on ancient perfumery traditions.

In every Dior perfume bottle there is an essence of Calabria inside - the air, sea, culture. It could be said that with each spray you are experiencing a beautiful scent tied to the magic of the Calabrian land.

François Demachy, Dior Perfumer describes his experience for capturing the essence of bergamot in Calabria.

"When you go to Calabria, you feel the reality of the environment brought to life, and draw inspiration from the beauty of the plantations."

Watch his journey on the quest for essences in the video below: 

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By: Monique Malais

TRAVEL JOURNAL

Welcome to Gerace...

the perfectly preserved medieval town

Gerace is located in the province of Reggio Calabria on top of a cliff, with stunning views of the Ionian sea and the mountains that surround it.  Because of its location it is only accessible by driving up a steep, winding mountain road.  The scenic drive is only the beginning of the journey. With each kilometer you ascend up the mountain, you will see the coastline shrink away as you drive past olive groves, palm trees, wild cactuses and jasmine flowers. Each twist and bend in the road will leave you feeling like you are being transported into a beautiful painting. Make sure the car windows are rolled down and notice how the scent of the air changes from salty sea to sweet flowers and then crisp mountain once you've reached the highest point and your destination, beautiful Gerace.

Gerace-Calabria

Park your car and spend the afternoon wandering the cobblestone alleyways. Many visitors express that Gerace is a place that has you feeling like you've stepped back in time. Most of the town and architecture has remained in tact so it's no wonder Gerace is regarded as one of the best preserved medieval villages in Italy.

Here you will find remnants of several centuries of history. A Norman castle, ancient churches, renaissance palaces and a tangle of streets formed by cobblestone lane ways all within the original fortress walls of this beautiful medieval town.

Gerace-Calabria

The name of the town originates from the Greek lerax (Ιέραξ) meaning Sparrowhawk. According to a legend, the inhabitants who once lived on the coast, were under attack by Saracen invaders in 915 CE, and needed a safe place to hide. They were led by the sparrowhawk all the way up to the top of the mountain and here they founded their new home Gerace. Over the centuries to come Gerace fell under the control of the Byzantines, the Saracens, the Normans and the Angevins and remnants of these civilizations is still visible today.

Gerace-Calabria-Piazza

The majestic cathedral of Gerace built in the Byzantine-Norman style is a great example of architecture that still stands today.

Gerace-Calabria-Cathedral

The cliff side view is breathtaking. You can see all the way down to the Jasmine Coast where the sky touches the sea and shades of blue become one.

Gerace-Calabria

Peaceful is a great word to describe Gerace. It's so easy to lose track of time wandering the narrow alleyways and then stopping at a cafe in the piazza to taste Gerace's famous granita, an Italian fruit flavoured ice slush.

Gerace-Calabria-Street

Remarkably Gerace has been able to preserve much of its ancient artistic and cultural heritage even after more than 2500 years. Here you will find many artisans working in original workshops, on handicrafts that were taught and passed down through the centuries. These talented artisans are happy to open up their workshops and introduce you to their traditional style of working with ceramics, iron, wood and hand weaving.

Gerace-Calabria-Artisans

EAT For the best granita you must visit Bar del Tocco located in the main piazza.

SHOP Gerace is filled with artisan workshops. Visit Laboratorio Creazioni Artistiche (as pictured above) where you can find beautiful hand crafted souvenirs.

Interesting facts

1.  Gerace was once home to 128 churches.

2.  Walking tours are a breeze! The entire town is only 24 sq km.

3.  Gerace sits atop a 500m vertical cliff formed of conglomerate sea fossils from 60 million years ago.

4.  Archaeological findings have proven that the area was in fact inhabited since the Neolithic Age.

5.  Gerace has been home to many philosophers, artists, poets and writers over the centuries. Plaques have been placed at the entrances of their original homes to commemorate them.

Gerace-Calabria-Coast

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By: Michelle Pedullà 

TRAVEL JOURNAL

Scilla...the village of the mythical sea goddess

Scilla is a beautiful seaside village located in the province of Reggio Calabria. Scilla's coastline lies at the end of the Straight of Messina, a narrow sea passage between Calabria and Sicily linking the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea. The waters that caress the shores of Scilla have a mystical past. According to stories in Greek mythology, Scylla was a beautiful sea goddess whom the sea god Glaucus fell in love with. Glaucus desperately wanted Scylla to return his love so he went to visit a witch name Circe to ask her to cast a love spell on Scylla. Circe became jealous of the love Glaucus had for Scylla and instead cursed the beautiful sea goddess turning her into a six headed monster and casting her to live under the sea where out of anger she would destroy all ships that came near her.

scilla-calabria-beach

Today visitors to Scilla can't deny its enchantment. This beautiful village has a mystical history and a peaceful tranquility that no longer exists in the larger mainstream Italian cities.  But what makes Scilla truly special is the way the coastline divides the town into two uniquely beautiful neighbourhoods. On one side you will find Marina Grande, with its beautiful 800 metre golden sand beach. While the other side Chianalea is a charming fisherman's district and where you will find some of the best seafood restaurants in Calabria. 

Scilla-MarinaGrande-CastelloRuffo

From Marina Grande walk the boardwalk to the end of the beach and notice that the coastline jags outward and heightens into a cliff. Right at the top is the ancient castle 'Castello Ruffo'. From here you can catch a great view of the coast of Sicily. On the other side of the castle lays Chianalea, the fisherman's district which is also known as 'Little Venice of the Tyrrhenian Sea'.

Photo courtesy of BLOM

Photo courtesy of BLOM

Quaint and charming, Chianalea looks like a neighbourhood out of an old Italian film, complete with little alleyways that descent directly into the sea. It is also home to some of the best seafood restaurants in Calabria. Enjoy picturesque views of ancient fisherman's homes built right up against the sea as you dine on local seafood caught that morning. .

scilla_rt.jpg
Scilla-Chianalea-Town

Interesting Facts

Scilla is only a 30 minute drive from Reggio Calabria. 

The town castle Castello Ruffo is open to the public from 8:30 to 19:30 and costs 1.50 Euro per person and is free for children under 9 and seniors over 70. From the castle grounds catch the marvellous view of the Eolian Islands and the Sicilian Coast.  You can see a virtual tour here at Castello Ruffo Virtual Tour. 

DISCOVER CALABRIA & SOUTHERN ITALY ON YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY!

LET US HELP YOU PLAN THE PERFECT EXPERIENCE WITH OUR CUSTOM TRAVEL PLANNING SERVICE OR JOIN ONE OF OUR UPCOMING RETREATS & TOURS.

By: Michelle Pedullà