What is there to see in Calabria?
by Rick Coroniti
A travel agent's perspective on Calabria.
I have been asked "What is there to see in Calabria?"
I hear this same question before every trip. Sometimes it comes from an ICC member who honestly does not know much about Calabria. Other times it comes from a "seasoned" traveler who wants to know how it compares with his/her previous travels throughout Italy.
Calabria does not have the many tourist attractions that Italy is so famous for. You won't see a "David" or a "Ponte Vecchio" or a "Basilica" or a "Pisa" or any of the other pictures that are imprinted on your local pizza box. Don't get me wrong, you can go to Reggio and see the "Bronzes", some old bridges, churches, castles, some "leaning" towers and walls left standing from the last earthquake, but as far as known tourist attractions, Calabria does not compare with the rest of Italy--it doesn't need to. Why? Because it has something else the other areas lack: true beauty.
I find it amusing to see the change in some of our "seasoned" travelers who approach our trip to Calabria with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and a "show-me" attitude. After their 3rd day or so in Calabria, you can see their body language change as they become taken in with the sites and reality of Calabria. The water and air are clean, the scenic vistas are something else, and the people are warm and friendly. By the end of the trip, these same doubters have distanced themselves from Italy, because they are no longer Italian, they are Calabrian.
When you are in your ancestral village walking down the narrow street that your great-grandparents played on or traversed to get to work in the fields or when you walk into the small 200 year old church where your grandparents were married, it hits you: the trendy shops and massive cathedrals of the North are not that important. You begin to appreciate what these people had to endure in order to get through life. You marvel at their engineering skills when you see the roads hanging out over the edge of a mountain. You wonder how they could have built their churches and the endless tunnels through mountains considering the crude tools that they had to work with. Also it is quite an experience to have strangers come up to you on the street, and since your surname came from the same village as theirs, you end up in their home eating for the next 3 hours.
All I can say is that if you are in a position to travel to Calabria, take advantage of it because it is not so much what you will see while you are there, it is more of what you will feel afterwards.