Under $100: Calabria, Italy

by Nicole Quasté

Feb 9, 2018

Calabria, Italy © Tomas Marek | Dreamstime.com

Under $100 / Europe

A lesser-known Italian gem, Calabria sits at the toe of the country’s boot bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea and Ionian Sea in Southern Italy. The mountainous region isn’t visited as frequently as other regions, but it’s a beautiful, historic and culturally rich destination.

Nature-focused activities are a must in Calabria if you’re traveling on a budget. The region has a unique wildness to it, unlike some of the more refined, touristy destinations along the Amalfi Coast. The Pollino, La Sila and Aspromonte mountains, surrounding seas and 485 miles of coast make for great beach lounging and scenic hikes through national parks and coastal trails.

La Sila, known as The Great Wood of Italy, is home to numerous lakes and dense coniferous forests, as well as some of the tallest trees in Italy, known as the Giants of the Sila. The lower terrain in Calabria is also worth visiting for its lush vineyards and citrus fruit orchards, as are the beaches — Tropea is one of the loveliest.

If culture and history are on your list of priorities, Calabria is home to some of the oldest structures in the world and one of the oldest records of human presence in Italy, dating back to 700,000 BC. The best part: You can explore it all without any crowds and for free.

On the strait between the mainland and Sicily is Reggio Calabria, the largest and oldest city in Calabria dating from the 8th century BC, known for botanical gardens, seaside views, Art Nouveau buildings and the 3,000-year-old Aragonese Castle.

Cosenza is renowned for its cultural institutions, beautiful old quarter, a Hohenstaufen Castle and 11th-century Romanesque-Gothic cathedral.

Scilla, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the site of Homer’s tales; Gerace is a rustic medieval city with an impressive Norman Castle; and temples of Roman Gods can be found in Catanzaro. Odysseus is said to have been held prisoner in La Castella, once sacked by legendary pirate Barbarossa in the 16th century.

For another inexpensive excursion, visit Tropea Isola Bella, an island with a ferry service off the mainland featuring white-sand beaches and a charming village.

In addition to its historic landmarks, Calabria is a food lover’s dream. The region is an important one in Italy for agriculture, notably grapes (i.e. wine), olive oil, Bergamot oranges and Porcini mushrooms.

The seaport town of Pizzo Calabro is well-known for its ice cream called tartufo, and Mammola is a gastronomy hub, home to several incredible restaurants including La Bottega dei Sapori, A Piazzetta and La Taverna del Borgo. The historic center of Cosenza offers restaurants open for hundreds of years.

Stop in any small café or restaurant, and enjoy regional specialties for little money, like nduja, a local delicacy of spicy sausage, served on crispy bread or over pasta; pepperoncini chilies, one of the region’s staples; Caciocavallo cheese; grilled swordfish; and ciambotta, a spicy eggplant stew.

It can be tricky to get around the Calabria region, as the mountainous terrain limits public transportation options. Car rentals are a good, affordable option, just be weary of underdeveloped roads. There is also a free bus service running from Lamezia Terme Airport to Tropea. Other modes of transportation include the train, which runs along the whole coast, stopping at most main towns.

#TrazeeTravel

Insta Feed
Tips / Destination
Aug 17, 2019

Best Chicago Rooftops

Catch the last few rays of summer with a trip to one of Chicago’s superb rooftop spaces. Rainy day? Many of these rooftops are still suitable for fun in inclement weather.

Work and Play in Italy

Once business concludes, a world of wonder awaits in many of Italy’s incredible cities.

Tips / Travel
Aug 17, 2019

Tips for Traveling With Mental Illness

Living with mental illness doesn’t mean you have to stay locked in your room your whole life. It’s okay to get out and see the world. You just have to take some extra precautions to keep yourself safe.

Products / Clothing
Aug 17, 2019

Awel Tennis Shoes

These eco-friendly shoes are stylish and washable, made from recycled water bottles and merino wool.

Pack Your Bags, You’re Going to Tokyo!

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the largest airline in Japan. With flights from the United States to Japan and all of Asia, it's the perfect airline to book your next trip with. From ANA's amazing in-flight food to its excellent customer service, it comes as no surprise ANA has been awarded five stars for its seventh consecutive year by the SKYTRAX World Airline Rating.

Golden Circle Tour of Iceland

The small island nation of Iceland may have only one major “highway,” the 828-mile Route 1, better known as Ring Road because it navigates the entire perimeter of the country, but it can be difficult to traverse depending on weather conditions at particular times of the year. While a road trip around the island is a fantastic adventure that reveals unimaginably unique landscapes, it can be a considerable challenge for those self-identifying as anywhere from timid to even moderately adventurous in their travels. In these cases, a full-day Golden Circle tour is the perfect antidote to any FOMO experienced by foregoing the road trip.