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Calabria’s Infinite Shades Of Blue

From the palest teal to the deepest cobalt, the most beautiful shades of blue... turquoise, azure, cerulean, sapphire, illuminated by the electrifying sun. Nurturing. Inspiring. Exhilarating. Inhale deeply. Saltiness tingles on your tongue. Stillness in the bright sky. The sweet scent of adventure in the air. Discover the enchantment of Calabria.  

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Top row left to bottom: coastal drive; the majestic santa maria dell' isola; poolside at an agriturismo; the beach at jolly mare siderno; street sign, view of the sea in capo vaticano, ionian sea beach; arena dello stretto reggio calabria; swimming in the tyrrhenian sea

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Explorations in Pizzo calabro

Upon first glance Pizzo Calabro resembles a tranquil fishing village with white sandy beaches and rocky coves, the perfect place for a sunny sojourn. A brief stroll into town pleasantly surprises you upon discovering unique culinary delights and charming ancient monuments.

Pizzo’s name translates to a bird’s beak or projecting point, which accurately describes the town as it is located on top of a bluff overlooking the sea. Each angle offers majestic views of the coastline perfectly named Costa degli Dei - the Coast of the Gods.

The main square in Pizzo is the Piazza della Repubblica. This is the heart of the community where you can catch glimpses of daily Calabrian life - families enjoying a pranzo (lunch) on the terrace, animated conversations at a café or watch the shuffle of people as they disappear into the narrow lanes surrounding the square. Food aficionados will enjoy tasting the local cuisine especially seafood dishes such as, spaghetti al nero di sepia or the traditionally prepared tuna cured in olive oil.

Do as the locals do, sit down, relax at a café and order the renowned dessert: tartufo di Pizzo. This gelato creation was invented in Pizzo and remains a culinary specialty with several cafés in the main piazza offering their own variation using ‘secret’ recipes. The original tartufo di Pizzo is a mix of chocolate and hazelnut gelato shaped into a ball, filled with a chocolate centre, covered in chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder. Today you can find a variety of gelato combinations and fillings to compliment each flavour. This sweet dessert was aptly named, tartufo because of its similarity in shape and colour to the highly coveted and precious tubers: truffles, known as tartufo in Italian. The popularity of tartufo has spread across the province and is often found on dessert menus around Calabria. With only the freshest ingredients used and made by hand, each bite leaves the taste buds wanting more, this is one delicacy you won’t be disappointed by.

Next to the piazza is the Castello Murat, a 15th century castle, built by Ferdinand I of Aragon, with two large cylinder towers looking out onto the sea. It is famous for the imprisonment of the deposed King of Naples, Joachim-Napoléon Murat (brother-in-law to Napolean Bonaparte) and his subsequent execution after attempting to regain control of the kingdom. Visitors can visit the castle to experience a reconstruction of Murat’s last days leading up to his execution by firing squad.

As you walk through the building, you sense the helpless feeling Murat's soldiers felt. Murat's final letter to his wife and children is a sad reminder of the loving family he left behind. The silence inside the castle matches the sombre mood, as you finish the tour in the exact place that Murat said his last words on October 13, 1815 "I have braved death too often to fear it...Soldiers! Do your duty! Straight to the heart but spare the face. Fire!"

Locals believe sometimes you can hear the faint echo of Murat's footsteps pacing in his prison cell. Dare to discover the ghost of Murat on your next visit?

A short walk along the coast leading out of town or a quick taxi ride will take you to Chiesetta di Piedigrotta, a large cavernous church carved into the rock. 

The Piedigrotta was built in the 17th century by a group of sailors who vowed to erect a church where their ship wrecked as a way to pay homage for sparing their lives. The church is elaborately carved out of soft rock in the side of a bank facing the sea. Natural arches and pillars separate the statues and biblical scenes into distinct sections. Miniscule holes above the cave allow a soft glow of light to filter in and illuminate the statues from different angles. The lighting constantly changes with the movement of the sun creating a unique visit each time from sunrise to sunset. 

Satisfy all the senses - sun, sand and sweets over a weekend exploring Pizzo. This little-known gem awaits your discovery.

Food fun:

Fill your sweet tooth sampling each flavour of tartufo at Gelateria Artigianale Bar Dante located in the main piazza. This is the original location of the creation of tartufo. 

Travel Info:

Pizzo is located 15 km south of Lamezia Terme airport approximately a 30 minute drive. Conveniently reached by a regional train running along the coast.

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By: Monique Malais 

TRAVEL JOURNAL

Discover Italy's Best Kept Secret…Calabria!

Head to the Southern most point of Italy and you'll discover Calabria. An enchanting and mysterious region with over 800 kilometres of the most pristine beaches in Europe. If you enjoy to travel off the beaten path and become immersed in local culture, Calabria should be your next destination. 

The moment you step off the plane, everything slows down and you are transported back to a simpler way of living, one where pleasure takes precedence over time. Sit back at an outdoor cafe and feel the warmth of the sun relax your entire body as you savour each sip of your cappuccino. Watch the world float by as waves of relaxation take over your body with each inhale of salty sea air.

Unlike other popular Italian vacation spots, Calabria remains free from overdevelopment, preserving thousands of years of history and culture. In fact, Calabria is one of the oldest regions of Italy brimming with stories of conquests, and crusades and was the first area to be called Italia. Byzantine and Greek influences are evident in the architecture of churches, medieval castles and monasteries. 

Part of Calabria's charm is due to a blending of cultural traditions, which has evolved into countless celebrations and unique festivals happening almost daily. From colourful religious processions to sunset beach parties, no matter the season become part of the local fabric and exhilarate the senses. 

A visit to Calabria would be incomplete without satiating the stomach and tasting the local cuisine. The food varies by town, each dish deeply rooted in ancient culinary traditions, with an emphasis on fresh local food. For dessert let your nose be your guide as you wander through the cobblestone streets and tantalize your taste buds with seasonal gelato made fresh daily like fico nero (black fig) or Bergamotto (Bergamot).

If the sun and sea is calling your name then what are you waiting for? With flights daily to Lamezia Terme and Reggio Calabria you can jump onboard and come Discover Calabria for yourself.

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Article originally published on We Are Travel Girls.com

By: Michelle Pedullà 

TRAVEL JOURNAL

Dolce far niente...

The art of pleasant idleness

Dolce far niente is an Italian term literally translating into 'sweetness of doing nothing'. Italians effortlessly live by this concept because it's simply the way of life in Italy.  No one ever seems to be in a rush, appointment times are always flexible and the workday lunch hour seems to go on and on until the late afternoon. Many travellers to Italy will notice that the locals always seem very relaxed and happy. Older men sitting at cafe's playing cards with their grandchildren, stylishly dressed men and women enjoying a long lunch with wine in hand, family's strolling leisurely, eating gelato as if everyday was a Sunday.

The further south you go in Italy, the more vivid dolce far niente becomes. What many don't know is that dolce far niente is actually an art form that takes practice to perfect. And no one in Italy has mastered it as perfectly as the locals of Calabria. In Calabria they take dolce far niente to a whole new level. You will see it everywhere you go, people of all ages participating in the beautiful art of enjoying the simple pleasures of life. In Calabria it's understood that the true essence of dolce far niente is about spending time with family and friends and making it top priority. That is what dolce far niente is really about.

Press play and start practicing your dolce far niente!

Dolce-Far-Niente

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By: Michelle Pedullà 

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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

DISCOVER CALABRIA & SOUTHERN ITALY ON YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY!

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By: Michelle Pedullà