The Insider’s Guide to Calabria, Italy

With its soaring mountains, secluded beaches, and rich heritage, this unsung region is ripe for exploring.

Jada Yuan
Airbnb Magazine


By Jada Yuan
Illustrations by André Ducci
Photographs by Piero Percoco

Dive right in

“La Calabria è una ­reggione con molte faccie,” Airbnb Superhost Pino Laria says of this peninsula in Southern Italy. “Calabria is a region with many faces.” All along the toe of the boot, the landscape is remarkably green, encompassing national parks and mountain ranges that drop steeply to bright blue and even purplish waters. The swath of land also comprises 500 miles of underdeveloped coastline where, a day’s journey from the Amalfi Coast crowds, you can sit more or less on your own on a pristine beach.

And yet that coastline has, at times, meant danger for locals. This is a land that has weathered earthquakes, invasions, crippling poverty, mass emigrations, and the grip of the ’Ndrangheta mafia. Despite these challenges, the area today is undergoing a rebirth of sorts. A slow build in tourism has boosted the region without diminishing its character, and younger generations have been choosing to stay, reviving centuries-old traditions. What they’ve found: To come to Calabria is to feel enshrouded in history. To be enveloped in hospitality. To love a community and all its complexities, with its many faces.

Read on to discover tips from eight local Airbnb hosts on everything from mountain adventures and beaches to food and book recommendations.

Travel how-tos

Flying here: Lamezia Terme (SUF) on the west coast is the main airport, about a 30- to 60-­minute drive to Catanzaro, ­Cosenza, or Tropea — but you can also find domestic flights directly into Reggio Calabria (REG) and Crotone (CRV) . On a budget? Consider flying into ­Naples and taking a train or bus to Tropea or ­Cosenza (about four hours).

Getting around: Public transportation is pretty nonexistent, so a rental car is a must. Stick shifts are standard; for an ­automatic, you’ll need to ask. Drive cautiously! Roads are poorly maintained and are often only wide enough for one car at a time.

Hitting Your Peak

Calabria is perhaps best known for its seaside cities, “but what’s unique about the region is that just a 30-minute drive from the beaches, you can be in these huge mountains,” Superhost Pietro Barone says of the many soaring ranges. Each is worth exploring for its densely wooded national parkland and spectacular views of the sea.

One of the many spectacular waterfalls in the Valli Cupe reserve.

TAKE A HIKE: A Primer for Climbers

Pollino Mountains

Calabria’s northernmost range is marked by craggy canyons with vistas for miles. The national park here is the largest in Italy and “one of the few with many communities living in it,” says Superhost Stefania Emmanuele.

Difficult hike: Giardino degli Dei
On this “sublimely scenic” trail, just over the border in Basilicata, you’ll cross gorges, pass through valleys that are home to wild cows and horses, and see rare Loricato pines, says Emmanuele.

Moderate hike: Ponte del Diavolo
“Anyone who comes to Civita doesn’t leave without seeing this bridge,” says Emmanuele. You’ll hike down hundreds of stone steps, passing between 800-­meter-high walls.

Sila Mountains

Known for having the cleanest air in Europe. The name Sila comes from the Latin word silva, meaning forest — and in fact, most of this park’s 750 square kilometers is woodland. “It’s the highest percentage in Italy,” says Superhost Francesco Belcastro. “You’ll see shepherds in the valleys, and maybe even wolves.”

Difficult hike: Valli Cupe
Take a steep set of steps (passing by willow and cork trees and prehistoric ferns) and you’ll arrive at one of the biggest gorges in Europe, says host Gabriella Catastimeni. “At the bottom is a flat trail with rocky walls so high the sun comes through like a slit in a curtain.”

Moderate hike: Del Crocchio Waterfall
“You don’t expect beautiful waterfalls in Calabria,” says Catastimeni, “but there are some, like this one, nestled between patches of woods and the canyon.”

Aspromonte Mountains

Dry heat engulfs these steep slopes, but throughout the 160,000 lush acres are rarely populated villages and ­German bunkers from World War II. “I like Aspromonte the best because it’s ‘wild,’” says Barone.

Guided hike: Sentiero del Brigante
This ultra-­challenging route is made up of nine stages, and “you’re 1,200 meters above sea level, with views of the Etna volcano and Aeolian Islands,” says Pino Laria. Signs reference outlaws who’ve taken the path through history, starting with Spartacus. [To book a guide, email]

Spiritual Summit

Montalto, the tallest peak of ­Aspromonte, is topped with a statue of Jesus. “It’s a spectacular point,” says Pino Laria. The drive there is ­followed by a 30- minute hike. At the top, you get a panoramic view of cliffs, woodlands, and valleys, says ­Francesco ­Belcastro. “It feels like you are looking out from an airplane.”

Check Out a Real Ghost Town: Pentedattilo

Founded by the Greeks around 640 B.C., the village of ­Pentedattilo was partially destabilized by earthquakes starting in 1783 and steadily depopulated until a 1960s quake led to full abandonment. Today, it’s still mostly empty, save for one man who guards the church, a few souvenir shops, a ­colony of cats cared for by shop ­owners, a restaurant, and an albergo diffuso (four buildings acting as one hotel) that’s run by Airbnb host Francesco Praticò.

Hosts Francesca Tramontana and Francesco Praticò.

What led you to start this business?

Ten years ago, I began to work with a cultural association to promote ­Calabria. I love my territory and our culture. I would bring tourists to visit Pentedattilo most days of the week, and two years ago I got the opportunity to buy houses.

What’s a stay like?

You will find quiet and beauty. We have redecorated the buildings in a simple way so they fit into the environment. But you will still have new mattresses, a water supply, Wi-Fi, a TV, and air-conditioning.

Any new developments?

There’s now a wine bar and plans for a few other spots, like a cultural museum.

Artsy Enclave: Corso Mazzini

Near the University of Calabria, the town of Cosenza is utterly ­picturesque, set at a confluence of two rivers on seven hills. But what’s most notable, perhaps, is found just ­outside its historic center: a ­pedestrian-only row of restaurants and shops from Piazza Bilotti to Viale Trieste, lined with contemporary art (sculptures by Salvador Dalí, cubist Amedeo Modigliani, and others, donated by Cosenza-born entrepreneur Carlo Bilotti). It’s that push-pull of ­modern energy in a medieval setting that makes this passeggiata special. “It’s unique to be able to walk among such incredible art,” says Belcastro. “For locals, it’s a favorite pastime. It’s about looking each other in the eyes without phones or social media.”

Best of the West

Ask any savvy traveler about Calabria, and chances are he or she will name Tropea — and for good reason. In the area around this western town, the sprawling beaches with turquoise waters have earned it the nickname “Coast of the Gods.” As Pino Laria notes, “many Italian beaches have dark volcanic sand, but these have a white sand that makes the water sparkle.” The cliff-top town allows visitors “to witness remains of the Middle Ages” in the form of cobblestone streets and stone palazzi.

Visit a Fishing Village: Scilla

“This town gets its name from the mythological monster Scylla, who guarded the Strait of Messina and menaced Odysseus as he sailed through,” says Pietro Barone. “Go to Chianalea, the ancient fishermen’s settlement where cars aren’t allowed and houses are built up to the sea.” The local specialty? Swordfish, or pesce spada. “They appear in May, when very strong currents attract the fish, and the season lasts until August,” says fisherman Fortunato Polistena. As soon as there’s a sighting, boats with tall watchtowers and harpoons rush out to sea (a technique pioneered by Phoenicians 2,500 years ago). Street carts and cafés here offer swordfish sandwiches, but the legendary version is at Lido Francesco: handmade ciabatta, swordfish, olive oil, lemon, parsley, tomatoes, and olives.

Explore Tropea on Foot

“Tropea is a very small town,” says Laria, “and ‘small’ applies to everything the town is made of: narrow streets, little squares, local shops selling handmade items. It’s best to fully enjoy the sights on a walk; only then can you truly immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere — not to mention the cliff-edge views that unfold to extraordinary scenery.”

1.Start at Piazza Ercole
This square just off the town’s main avenue is in the center of the city, says Laria. “Tropea’s origins date back to the mythical hero ­Hercules, who, after defeating two terrible giants, is said to have rested on this cliff — and some believe he subsequently dedicated the city to Juno, his nurse. The word nurse in ancient Greek ­translates to ‘Tropea.’”

2. Head two blocks northwest to Palazzo Toraldo
At this beautiful palace where a family of aristocrats once lived, you can see their emblem (a silver lion on a green background) on the ceiling.

3. Next, walk southeast to Maria Santissima di Romania
Dedicated to Tropea’s patron saint, ­Madonna of Romania, who protects the city from ­earthquakes and war, the city’s main cathedral contains two now-defused bombs from World War II that had been dropped by Allied forces, says Laria. “They’re on display in the entrance to the church.”

4. Stroll north (down to the bottom of the cliff and across Via Lungomare) to Madonna dell’Isola
This sixth-century Basilian monastery on a rock formation in the sea has become a symbol of the city, notes Laria, and its beautiful garden overlooks the sea.

5. Head back east and finish up at Spiaggia dell’Isola
From this small but beautiful beach, Laria says, “you can see the Madonna dell’Isola sanctuary, the town of Tropea on top of the cliffs, and La Grotta del Palombaro, a natural cave reachable only by water.”

Night Move

Take an evening boat ride to see the Stromboli volcano on a small island north of Sicily. “It’s one of the town’s greatest attractions,” says Laria, because for the past 2,000 years it’s been one of the most active volcanoes in the world. You can see small eruptions every 20 to 30 minutes.

A Beach for Everybody

if you want to…SWIM WHERE LOCALS SWIM: San Nicolla Arcella. “Blue waters, no tourists, and a natural rock arch in the sea.”–F.B.

if you want to…SNORKEL OR SCUBA DIVE: Paradiso del Sub. “The water is transparent, and when you look up, it feels like the boats are flying on the sea.”–F.B.

if you want to…WINDSURF: Gizzeria Lido. “It’s a beautiful place, windy, and a go-to for professional windsurfers.”–G.C.

if you want to…SKIP THE BEACH: Check out Zungri, a rock settlement nearby. “It’s a prehistoric cave dwelling with a spiritual feel.”–P.L.

Drawing on Tradition in Reggio di Calabria

This province has the region’s biggest city (named Reggio di Calabria, as well), but it’s also relatively unpopulated, built atop ruins. The Greeks came in the eighth century b.c., and many who do live here now speak Grecanica, a dialect of Italian mixed with ancient Greek. “When I lived in Reggio I loved walking along the lungomare [waterfront promenade],” says Gabriella Catastimeni. “The Strait of Messina’s currents are mixed with a citrus scent that is only of Reggio.”

Get a Dose of Local Color

Nearly 50 years ago, married artists Nik Spatari and Hiske Maas set out to turn an abandoned space under a highway into an environmental park they could fill with their works made of repurposed materials. Known as the MuSaBa, the brightly colored Museum of Santa Barbara, set against the rugged Aspromonte mountains, “is spectacular,” says Stefania Emmanuele. “The art and energy there are so pure, it will leave you speechless.” To reach the entrance, you’ll follow a mural-adorned path to an old church that’s been called “the Sistine Chapel of Calabria” for its psychedelic ceiling covered with nudes painted by Spatari.

Catch a Festival

Calabria has a culture of celebration. Way back when, the partying started, in part, because of how hard it was to get around. “The road network was a poor one: no asphalt, concrete, or railway,” says Superhost Giacomo Faustini, so every village had to create its own fun. Here’s a sampling of the liveliest sagre.

Fiera di San Giuseppe (March 15–19 in Cosenza): This big market (500+ vendors) honors Giuseppe (or Joseph), husband to the Virgin Mary and earthly father to Jesus. It takes place on the feast day of the saint and of all fathers (the equivalent of Father’s Day in Italy).

Le Vallje di Civita (the Tuesday after ­Easter in Civita): Featuring dances, songs, and colorful costumes, this festival honors Albanian hero Giorgio Castriota Skanderbeg, who, centuries ago, led a defeat of the Turkish army.

’Nduja Festival (August 8 in Spilinga): In a town near Tropea that’s famous for having invented spreadable salami, festivalgoers can feast on ’nduja spaghetti, ’nduja sandwiches, and other salami- based snacks.

Tarantella Festivals (mid to late August, in various villages): Honoring a traditional Calabrian folk dance that cele­brates courtship, these gatherings “pack piazzas with people dancing like crazy,” says ­Catastimeni. “At the Squillace one, you can taste meats, cheeses, and sweets made in the region and watch some ceramic-making.”

Feast of the Imma­culate Conception (December 8 in Cosenza): The highlight of this celebration is an elaborate nativity reenactment. “Everyone dresses up in costumes from the biblical era to offer passersby local foods,” says Francesco Belcastro. Don’t miss the doughnut-like salty fritters called cullurielli.

A local soccer match. “Our team is Cosenza Calcio, and in 2018 they won the league playoffs, rather unexpectedly,” says Belcastro. “I love watching their games to see the warmth and unity of the fans.”

Sculpture + Culture

Arguably the most important museum in Southern Italy, according to Catastimeni, the National Archaeological Museum of ­Reggio di Calabria is a must-see not only for its detailed exhibits on the area’s Greek and Roman ruins but also for its display of the Bronzes of Riace, two full-size statues of bearded Greek warriors that are among the world’s most significant archaeological finds of the past decade. (Antique bronzes are rare because they were often melted down and repurposed. This pair was recovered from a shipwreck by an amateur diver, who found them 25 feet under the Ionian Sea.) “They are really impressive because they remain completely intact,” Belcastro says of the fifth-century b.c. sculptures that have become such a symbol of Calabria that they appear on postage stamps.

The Quieter Coast

If it seems like most of Calabria’s eastern beach towns were built up in the postwar era and never updated, that’s accurate — and part of their charm. Before then, for over a millennium, “it was dangerous to live here,” says Caterina Mazzuca. The sea brought invaders, and lowlands were rife with malaria, so most villages were built on top of hills. In the 1860s the government funded an unsightly railway on the only flat land around — right on the water — which impeded tourism development. The upside for travelers today? Rock-bottom prices on food and accommodations, and some of the most serene beaches around, says Gabriella Catastimeni, whose home, in the regional capital of Catanzaro, is surrounded by citrus groves. “It’s easy to unplug here. You hear the sounds of the sea and the forests, and the tall agave plants are beautiful.”

A Beach for Everybody

If you want to… GO CLIFF DIVING: Pietragrande di Stalettì. “The name ‘Pietragrande’ means big stone, and each summer you can see people diving from that rocky cliff into the crystalline water,” says Giacomo Faustini. “We’ve been taking our children here for years for this.”

If you want to… SAIL: Crotone Port. With warm temperatures even in winter, this windy spot was a major sailing port of Magna Grecia (and, interestingly, where Pythagoras is said to have lived when he came up with his eponymous theorem). These days, it’s the site of international regattas and renowned boating schools. “Several of my friends’ children study at these schools and are famous all over Calabria for winning races,” says Catastimeni.

If you want to… SEE LOTS OF SEA LIFE: Le Castella. This 15th-century Aragonese fortress is a landmark of the Red Coast, so named for the beaches’ red sands. It’s in the heart of Capo Rizzuto, one of the largest marine reserves in Italy. “You can see grouper, barracudas, and sometimes dolphins,” says Mazzuca, “and if you snorkel, dive, or take a glass-bottom-boat cruise, you can even see shipwrecks.” At the dock, you can buy the daily catch right off the boat.

Peek at the Past: Scolacium Park

Instead of battling tourists in the 100-degree heat of Rome and Pompeii to glimpse ancient ruins, you can explore a seaside Roman town from the second century b.c. here in the Gulf of Squillace, cooled by its strong breeze and the shade of century-old olive trees. Until the 1960s, this site was solely farmland, where workers would frequently come upon broken bits of statues. It wasn’t until 1982 that these 87 acres with excavated Roman, Byzantine, and Norman ruins (including the only Roman amphitheater yet discovered in Calabria) became an official park. “It’s a place of tranquility where you can see a small part of our history,” says Catastimeni. The centerpiece is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Roccella from the 11th century a.d., one of the largest Norman churches ever constructed.

Chew on This

The Amarelli Licorice Museum in Rossano, a pantheon to a particular licorice made only in Cala­bria, is the second-most-visited company museum in Italy (after the Ferrari Museum in Modena). Set in a 15th-century palazzo, it’s dedicated to the life’s work of a noble family that began making licorice around 1500. “The licorice is made from a wild Calabrian root that was historically gathered by hand,” says curator Marta Panciotto. “It’s the sweetest in the world, and it’s all-natural.”

Immerse Yourself in a Water World

Best accessed by boat, “Capo Cimiti is in the most protected part of the Capo Rizzuto marine reserve,” says Mazzuca. “There are ruins of a Roman villa on top of the cape, and under the water are five marble Roman columns believed to be from a wrecked cargo ship.”

Name Claim

It’s believed that the word Italia originated in Calabria and then spread to the entire Italian peninsula. Some say it came from King Italus, who ruled the Oenotrian tribe in Calabria and taught them how to make wine and cultivate the land. Others claim it’s a derivative of the Latin word Uituli, which referred to “the land of the calves.”

The Culinary Culture

It may be known for its massive coastline, but surprisingly, Southern Italy isn’t so big on seafood; heartier fare like pasta, sausage, and cheese play a larger part in the region’s cuisine. (Another thing: If you’re not adding freshly cut peperoncino to your dish, on top of the peperoncino already in it, you’re not doing Calabria right.) Here’s an overview of the area’s most authentic and iconic eats.

Every Cucina Needs…

CIPOLLE DI TROPEA: “The red onions here are so sweet, many eat them on their own. The sweetness has to do with the area’s proximity to the sea, consistent temperature, sunlight, humidity, and sandy soil,” says Pino Laria. The flavor shows up on pizza, in marmalade, and even in dessert (red onion ice cream!).

SPICY SAUSAGE: Pork is king in Calabria, and these three are believed to have originated here: ’nduja, the spreadable salami; soppressata, a dry salami made from the thigh of the pig; and capocollo, the dry-cured cousin of prosciutto, made from prime cuts (neck and shoulder).

CALABRIAN CHILE: Not tasting peperoncino “is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower,” says Pietro Barone. The ubiquitous spicy pepper is believed to be from the Caribbean, brought over by Columbus. Restaurants serve chiles fresh (in a bowl) or dried (as a powder).

3 New Pasta-Bilities

Look for these lesser-known Calabrian kinds.

Dromsa: Preparing this pasta “is a social activity,” says Stefania Emmanuele. “A branch of oregano is used to sprinkle water onto flour. The little balls that form are stewed with tomatoes.”

Scialatielli: These tube-shaped noodles are made of dough rolled out by hand with an esparto, or long piece of tough grass used to weave baskets.

Lagane: Wider than tagliatelle but thinner than lasagna, this pasta is made of water, flour, salt, and no eggs; the disk of dough is roasted on a hot stone, then cut into strips, says Francesco Belcastro.

Going Against the Grain: Mulinum San Floro

Twenty years ago, you’d be more likely to meet a young Cala­brian in Berlin or the United States than here. But the wars and loss of industry that caused mass emigration are long over, and increasingly, young people feeling the pull of their roots (chefs, hiking guides, amaro makers) have chosen to stay home. The new crew includes Stefano Caccavari, the 31- year-old founder of Mulinum, an artisanal flour facility. Through production in the farming village of San Floro, Caccavari has not only revived the growth of ancient Calabrian grain but also turns it into flour with a traditional stone mill, selling breads and pizzas made with the flour on-site, too.

What sparked this?
I had read an article that said in Italy, a significant percentage of wheat comes from Canada. It’s cheaper but grown with a pesticide banned in Europe for health reasons. I decided I wanted to make wheat for people who want quality food.

How did you do it?
In 90 days, through crowdsourcing on Facebook, I found 101 people all over Italy to invest 500,000 Euros in the farm, fields, pizza production, and the stone mill. It was a world record for Facebook agri-food crowdfunding, and it made the news.

What’s next?
My dream is to build a Mulinum in each region. And then one in each province.

Bergamot Basics

The Ionian coast of Calabria is home to bergamot, a citrus fruit grown almost exclusively here. With a spicy-floral scent, “it’s used by perfumers all over,” says Gabriella Catastimeni, and distilled into liquor and infused into tea, sorbets, and more. We got the scoop from Ugo Sergi, who has 3,000 bergamot trees on his organic farm and restaurant, Agriturismo il Bergamotto.

When was it first used in perfume?
Probably in the 1700s, when Giovanni Maria Farina, who was living in Cologne, Germany, created the first Eau de Cologne.

How do you make the oil?
It’s extracted from the peel. To make one liter, you need 200 kilos of fruit.

What happens to the fruit?
We turn it into juice. Studies show that the pure juice can lower cholesterol 40 percent. But it tastes terrible. It’s bitter.

What else do you sell?
We sell bergamot soap and a syrup for drinks. We also work with a German beekeeper to make honey with bergamot pollen. My family and I have been eating this honey for 15 years, and we’ve had no colds or allergies!

Try It!


This stewlike delicacy of calf ­entrails, tomato concentrate, and peperoncino “brings joy,” says Superhost Caterina ­Mazzuca — so much so that some even eat it for breakfast, notes Barone. The entrails are cut small (morzha) and cooked low and slow; after simmering for hours, “it becomes delicious. We eat it with pitta, bread shaped like a donut, with our hands,” says ­Catastimeni, who suggests trying it at ­Trattoria Salvatore Talarico in Catanzaro. (Lunch only; reservations required.)


The Gaglioppo from Ippolito 1845, Calabria’s oldest winery.

Tartufo di Pizzo

Along the Tyrrhenian Coast, restaurants serve this cocoa powder–dusted sphere of chocolate and hazelnut ice cream with a liquid dark chocolate center. But only Pizzo can claim the original. “The story is that in 1952, Don Pippo, a Sicilian who opened an ice cream shop here, came up with the tartufo for a royal ceremony,” says Franco Di Iorgi, a second-generation gelataio at Bar Ercole. Now it’s a tradition in this tiny town (population 9,000). “My father started working with Don Pippo when he was 11. He made tartufo with his hands, and opened our café in 1965. I learned from him, but I now use metal scoops. My three sons are learning from me.”

Grab a Bite

Seek out these regional snacks.

Sweet: Mostaccioli. These traditional cookies are made of honey, flour, and lemon or orange peel and are molded into symbolic shapes like fish and the Trojan horse.

Savory: Pizza al taglio (sold by the square). Whole, wood-fired pies are delicious here, too, but they’re typically served only at dinnertime.


“The town of Mammola is known for having the best codfish in the world,” says ­Emmanuele. This is not the salt-dried baccalà most ­people know, but stocco: cod that is dried in the cold, open air of Norway. The people of Mammola have been perfecting this “peasant food” since the 1500s. Initially they were mountain farmers with no access to fresh fish, so they would exchange chestnuts and wood with traveling peddlers for this freeze-dried kind. The cod has to be rehydrated over days, and even then it’s not tasty, so the villagers dressed it up with tomatoes and cooked it slowly in a clay pot. You can find stocco in many restaurants, “but Mammola is the only place you’ll see it cooked 16 ways,” says Pietro Barone, whose favorite is at La ­Taverna del Borgo.

Tips & Tricks

More secret spots and savvy advice to help you navigate Calabria like an insider.

Don’t Forget…

A prepaid Italian SIM card. (You can pick one up when you arrive.) Cell ­service can be spotty in Calabria, and it’s worse when using the international service of a U.S.-based carrier.

Outdoorsy attire. It’s a good idea to bring hiking boots or sneakers, ­leggings, or something to cover your legs, and a rain jacket when you go out for the day. What may be considered a short walk for locals can actually end up being be a trek through an unmaintained path or thistle-laden field (usually with incredible scenery).

To have a roll of toilet paper with you. It’s rarely available in public venues.

Before You Go

Read this: Revolt in Aspromonte (Gente in Aspromonte) by Corrado Alvaro; or The Odyssey. “The first is about peasants in the Aspromonte mountains, and it’s considered one of the highest examples of Southern Italian literature.” And in the Homer classic, “Odysseus’s adventures took him to the coast of Calabria. He fought sea monsters in the Strait of Messina.”–C.M.

Listen to this: “For Example, I Like the South” by Rino Gaetano. “It’s by a singer from Crotone who died young, in the ’80s, but his songs still resonate after 40 years. What remains in the hearts of young people who leave the region is that nostalgia.”–G.C.

Watch this: Arbëria is about a woman of Albanian descent from Cala­bria. “She rejects the traditions her father has imposed upon her and moves far from her village, until her brother calls her to tell her their father is about to die.”–S.E.

Where to See the Sea

Four favorite overlooks from Laria and Barone.

1 Affaccio Raf Vallone, a vista at the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Tropea.

2 Villetta del Cannone, in Tropea, also known as “the Cannon” for the war relic that stands between benches.

3 Monte Sant’Elia in Palmi. “Drive to the top, then walk around for a panoramic view of the violet coast,” says Barone.

4 Tropea Municipal Hall. “No one knows you can go to the top and see the whole port,” says Laria. “It’s free.”

Good to Know

Bring euros in cash. Many places don’t accept credit cards, and ATMs in smaller villages are often hard to find, broken when you get there, or only accept Italian bank cards.

Many businesses shut down sometime between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., and some are closed entirely on Sundays and Mondays. Your best bet is to call ahead to any vendor you want to visit, because Calabrian business owners are wonderfully hospitable, but they sometimes do not work the days and hours that are publicly posted.

If You’re Calabrian…

and you want to tell the chef the food was good, you stick your finger in your cheek, twist it back and forth, and smile.

and you park your car in a public lot, sometimes there will be an unofficial attendant who asks for a fee. He doesn’t work for the parking lot, but you pay him a euro or two anyway.

About the author: Jada Yuan circled the globe as the New York Times’s 52 Places Traveler. Before that she was a culture writer for New York Magazine, profiling Stevie Nicks, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bill Murray. She recently joined The Washington Post to write political features for the 2020 Presidential race.



Jada Yuan
Airbnb Magazine

Jada Yuan spent 2018 circumnavigating the globe as the 52 Places Traveler for The New York Times. She is now a staff writer for The Washington Post.