When I first decided to write about Calabria, I never imagined in what directions it would take me or what opportunities would open up. First, my book Calabria: The Other Italy, then My Italian Blog of which this is the 100th post, next the managing of various social media pages, even a YouTube channel, and now the start of tours to Calabria with my first Calabria Cultural Tour organized by my very own company Karen’s Travel LLC.
VETERAN TRAVELER AND EXPERIENCED TOUR LEADER
This past summer in anticipation of my first trip to Japan, my sister commented that she was happy to have me along. “You’re an experienced traveler,” she said. “Hmm…,” I thought, “I don’t speak Japanese. What can I offer?” And then we arrived and I realized that, yes, even thrown into a completely different culture, experience made a big difference. My sister was right.
Not only have I traveled extensively, mostly in the United States and Europe, I have been accompanying tour groups for an educational travel company called Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) for almost twenty years. I remember before I went on my first trip with a group, I didn’t really know what to expect. And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
I have been learning ever since, from the planning through to the execution, what works and what doesn’t. I’m ready to organize and carry out my own tours, not that this was my original intention. However, after bringing people virtually to Calabria through my book and blog, showing guests around personally was the natural next step.
KAREN’S TRAVEL LLC
And thus, Karen’s Travel LLC was born. I struggled with the name. Should I include Calabria or Italy? Bella Calabria? Italian Itineraries? Cultural Journeys? Should the name be catchy? Too cute isn’t really my style, so in the end I went with the simple, straightforward Karen’s Travel. The LLC or Limited Liability Company, I would discover, comes strongly recommended for any such enterprise. With the hope I’ll never need such protection, I’m touching iron (toccare ferro) as I write this. Italy’s version of knocking on wood, the expression originally referred to a ferro di cavallo or a horseshoe, but any iron will do.
So with Articles of Organization, state and local license numbers and other paperwork in hand, I’m in business. And I’ve apparently raised the “Women and Minority” category by one.
Now, to work.
CALABRIA CULTURAL TOUR
For my first tour, travelers will get a taste of the entire region of Calabria, from the Pollino Mountains that make up Italy’s largest National Park to the monumental forests of the Sila and down to the southern, craggy Aspromonte. Visits to hill and mountain communities with ancient Albanian and Greek heritages will complement those to coastal towns and cities along the 500 miles of spectacular coastline on the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, linked by the storied Strait of Messina, its waters rich with swordfish and mythological lore.
Museums of archeology, folk culture, religion, and even licorice will be toured, castles explored and we will feast upon hearty Calabrian cuisine. The program is full, with daily excursions and most meals included in the price of the itinerary, although several evenings are left open to dine on your own, perhaps a slice of pizza, a gelato or a scrumptious pastry for which Southern Italy is renowned. (See The Italian Bar.)
Designed for a group of between 15 and 25 participants, the Calabria Cultural Tour offers a comprehensive program for a reasonable price. Click on Calabria Tour to see the detailed, day-to-day itinerary.
A 100TH BLOGPOST TOAST FOR THE CALABRIA CULTURAL TOUR
Tempted? Have you already visited the famous Italian tourist sites and you’re ready for the “other Italy”? Or perhaps you would like to start out with an Italy less traveled and work your way up from the toe of the boot? Be careful, you may be captivated by the authentic and be tempted to return. Calabrian food and wine, in particular, were singled out by the New York Times in its recommendations for their annual list of “52 Places To Go” in 2017. (See my post Visit Calabria.)
You never know what might transpire on a trip to Calabria. I answered a teaching ad, lived there for four years, wrote a book and now I’m organizing my first Calabria Cultural Tour. So raise your glass and let’s fare un brindisi (make a toast) to help me celebrate my 100th blogpost! Cincin! (Cheers!) Please join me!
Questions? Please get in touch on the contact form and I will get back with you quickly. If you would like to arrange a tour to Calabria for a group of family or friends, Karen’s Travel LLC can help you with that, too. And please share the itinerary of this Calabria tour!
For an in-depth look at this alluring land in the toe of the boot, check out Calabria: The Other Italy, my non-fiction book about daily life, history, culture, art, food and society in this fascinating southern Italian region. It’s widely available in paperback and e-book versions.
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