Calabria Tour

Calabria Tour

With Karen’s Travel LLC

Travel through the fascinating region in the toe of the Italian boot with Karen Haid, award-winning author of Calabria: The Other Italy, on an in-depth Calabria tour. Enjoy spectacular scenery, visit quaint villages and world-class museums, learn all about Calabria yesterday and today while indulging in great food and wine on a small-group tour of this beautiful, uncrowded territory in the very south of Italy.

best Calabria tour

Karen’s Travel LLC

NEW DATES WILL BE SCHEDULED WHEN  TRAVEL IS SAFE
If you have an interest in a future tour, let us know on the contact page and we’ll get in touch with the particulars as soon as they become available.

Spring 2020 Calabria Tour Itineraries:
MAY – Calabria Cultural Tour
JUNE – Traditions and Food of Calabria Tour (New!)

Calabria Cultural Tour
11-Day Calabria Land Tour, May 8-18, 2020

Day 1 – Arrival to Lamezia TermeCosenza
Transfer from the international airport or train station in Lamezia Terme to our 4-star hotel in Cosenza. The program kicks off with a walking tour of the attractive old town, designated the Athens of Calabria in reference to its cultural traditions. Welcome dinner and overnight.

Day 2 – Rossano
Excursion to Rossano, renowned for its Byzantine history and its natural licorice. Our day will include a guided visit of the old town with its Baroque cathedral and newly refurbished Diocesan Museum, home to the Codex Purpureus Roassanenis, a rare 6th-century illuminated manuscript, lunch in a local restaurant, and a tour of the world-famous Amarelli Licorice Museum. Return to hotel, dinner and overnight.

Day 3 – Sila – Santa Severina
Departure for Santa Severina by way of the Sila mountain plateau, known as the gran bosco d’Italia or Italy’s great forest. We will stop at a protected nature reserve and walk amongst the Giants of Fallistro, majestic centuries-old pinewood trees. Lunch will be served in a quaint mountain village, where we will have the opportunity to sample local products and admire handicrafts. Moving on to Santa Severina, one of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages of Italy), we will visit the medieval town with its Byzantine Baptistry and castle that tells its 1,200-year history. Return to hotel, dinner and overnight.

Day 4 – Civita – Altomonte
Departure for a day in the Pollino Mountains. We will visit Civita, an Arbereshe village set in the dramatic Raganello Gorge with its spectacular Devil’s Bridge. Founded in the 15thcentury, Civita preserves its Albanian heritage through language, its original Italian-Albanian Church with Mass in the Byzantine rite and folkloristic “talking houses.” In the afternoon we will visit the medieval village of Altomonte, where we will have a traditional Bread Experience and lunch. Return to hotel, dinner and overnight.

Day 5 – Palmi – Scilla – Reggio Calabria
Checkout and departure for Palmi to visit the House of Culture with its ethnographic museum that showcases objects related to Calabrian traditions, religion, folklore and superstition. We will then proceed to Monte Sant’Elia to admire the Strait of Messina’s amazing panorama from a vantage point where three active volcanoes—Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano—can be seen. Continuing on to Scilla, we will stroll through its picturesque fishing quarter called Chianalea. Lunch will feature swordfish, the local specialty, in a restaurant overlooking the Ruffo Castle atop the legendary promontory of Homer’s Odyssey. In the afternoon, departure to Reggio Calabria to visit the National Archeological Museum where the famous Riace Bronzes are exhibited. Check in to 4* hotel in Reggio, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 6 — Reggio Calabria
A relaxing day in Calabria’s largest city situated at the very tip of the Italian boot with a view to Sicily across the Strait of Messina. In the morning, we will have a walking tour of the historic center and learn its history, see Greek and Roman ruins, the cathedral, the Aragon castle and numerous examples of Liberty-style architecture for which Reggio is noted. Lunch in the hotel. Enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure—fare una passeggiata (take a stroll) down the elegant pedestrian-only shopping street or along the seafront, described by poet Gabriele D’Annunzio as “the most beautiful kilometer of Italy,” dip your toe in the Strait or visit a museum. Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 7 – Bova – Pentedattilo
Today we will move to the Area Grecanica, the Greek area of Calabria. We will visit Bova, the last town to abandon the Orthodox rite in the 16th century and where people still speak a Greek language. Bova is one of only eighteen villages designated as a Jewel of Italy. Lunch in a nearby agriturismo set in a Bergamot Orchard. On the way back to Reggio, short stop at the ghost town of Pentedattilo. Return to hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 8 – Gerace – Casignana
Checkout and departure to Gerace, another of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy. We will tour the medieval Norman town and enjoy a lunch of regional dishes at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, a visit to the Villa Casignana reveals the remains of an opulent Roman home, complete with thermal baths and exquisite mosaic floors. Continue to Catanzaro Lido, check in to 4* hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 9 – Winery – Scolacium
Our delightful winery visit will culminate in an abundant sampling of local foods (lunch) with which to enjoy the wine. In the afternoon, continue to the Scolacium Archeological Park for a guided tour of this unique site, where thousands of years of history unfold amidst a lovely olive grove along the Ionian Sea. Return to hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 10 – Tropea – Pizzo
Departure for Tropea, Calabria’s most famous seaside town, known not only for its spectacular setting on the Tyrrhenian Sea, but also for its sweet red onions, which we will taste together with the area’s ‘nduja salami. In the afternoon, we will visit Pizzo Calabro to admire the evocative cave church of Piedigrotta and the Murat Castle, as well as to enjoy Pizzo’s special gelato creation. Return to hotel, farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 11 – Departure, transfer to Lamezia Terme Airport.


2020 Calabria Cultural Tour basics:

$3200 per person, $275 single supplement
Comprehensive, small group Calabria tour – maximum of 15 participants
Tour accompanied by Karen Haid, author of Calabria: The Other Italy, together with an expert Local Guide
Transportation and tours as outlined above are included (airfare not included)
10 nights in 4* hotels, breakfast daily, 9 lunches, 5 dinners, wine and water included with meals


Calabria tour

Homemade pasta with wild mushrooms

Traditions and Food of Calabria
12-Day Land Tour, June 8-19, 2020

Day 1 – Arrival Lamezia Terme
Transfer from the international airport or train station in Lamezia Terme to our overnight beach accommodation. Welcome to Calabria with a dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea or a walk along the beach as you recuperate from your journey. Introduction to the program, dinner and overnight.

Day 2 – Zungri – Tropea
Checkout and departure to Zungri, a fascinating archeological site of cave dwellings in the foothills of Mount Poro. We will enjoy a rustic lunch with such local specialties as the sweet Tropea onion and ‘nduja salami. A visit to Tropea, one of Italy’s most photographed seaside images, will kick off our exploration of Calabria. Transfer to Reggio Calabria, check-in to our 4-star hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 3 – Reggio Calabria
Enjoy a full day in Calabria’s largest city with its dramatic location along the Strait of Messina looking across to Sicily. We will visit the National Archeological Museum where the famous Riace Bronzes are exhibited as well as the Civic Art Museum, which features Calabrian artists and themes. Free time to relax and stroll the City of the Bergamot’s elegant pedestrian-only shopping street. Lunch with a view, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 4 – Seminara – Scilla
Our day begins with traditional ceramics from the entire region at the newly inaugurated Ceramic Museum in Seminara. Continuing on to Scilla, we will wander through its picturesque fishing quarter and admire the Ruffo Castle atop the legendary promontory of Homer’s Odyssey. Lunch will feature local swordfish. Return to Reggio, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 5 – Mammola – Stilo – Catanzaro
Checkout and departure for central Calabria. Our day in the Calabrian Serre begins in Mammola with a visit to MuSaBa Park and Museum, the creation of a local artist and visionary who took an abandoned monastery in a depressed region and made it an international artistic happening. Our lunch will feature the local specialty pescestocco. In the afternoon, we will see the Cattolica di Stilo, an architectural jewel of the Byzantine, one of the many testaments to the Greeks in Calabria. We will then continue along the Ionian Sea to Catanzaro Lido where we will check-in to our 4-star hotel. Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 6 – San Floro – Squillace
Catanzaro was once an important silk-making center, and we will visit a cooperative that is reviving this ancient tradition, from a museum inside the walls of San Floro’s castle to the magic of silk thread spinning from its cocoon. After lunch, we will drive through lovely olive groves to a ceramics center in the village of Squillace (birthplace of Roman scholar Cassiodorus) and observe the ancient graffito technique of terracotta decoration. Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 7 – Cirò – Le Castella – Camigliatello Silano
Our day begins with two of Calabria’s iconic symbols, the Aragon castle of Le Castella and the column of Capo Colonna. We will then continue up the Ionian coast to learn about Cirò wine, which was so highly esteemed by the Greeks that it was awarded to winning athletes in the original Olympic games! Following our wine tasting with lunch, we will visit an organic family farm in the Province of Crotone and learn about cheese making. In the afternoon, the scenery will transform from Mediterranean to alpine as we make our way to Camigliatello Silano and our historic hotel at the heart of the Sila Mountains. Dinner and overnight.

Day 8 – San Giovanni in Fiore
Our full-day excursion will take us to the largest population center of the Sila, where we will learn about its founder Gioacchino da Fiore, an important medieval theologian and prophet. We will visit the Florense Abbey, an impressive Romanesque structure that houses the holy man’s religious drawings as well as a Museum of the Working Class. San Giovanni in Fiore is known for its exceptional artisans and we will visit the workshops of a master goldsmith and a virtuoso textile designer. Lunch, dinner and overnight.

Day 9 – Camigliatello Silano
Step back in time for a relaxing day immersed in history and nature, discovering the “Old Calabria” of Norman Douglas and other legendary visitors to the region. Take a nostalgic ride on a steam train through the Sila National Park (confirmation permitting or alternate activity). For lunch, a panino silano, a classic choice in the fresh mountain air. In the afternoon we will visit the Emigration Museum and learn of mass Italian emigration, the emotions of the exodus and the hopes for the future. In the evening, we will have our own private cooking show, as our chef prepares our meal before us. Dinner and overnight.

Day 10 – Longobucco
A drive through verdant mountain woods will take us to the town of Longobucco, historically known for its crafts, particularly textile production that continues today. Our morning will include a workshop and museum, where we will admire beautiful fabrics with traditional designs made on antique looms. Lunch will highlight local specialties. In the afternoon we will visit the national park’s educational center, once a sawmill, and take a walk along Lake Cecita. Dinner in Camigliatello and overnight.

Day 11 – Cosenza Amantea
In the morning we will check out of our hotel and head for Cosenza, a city known for its learned men and pretty women, according to Casanova. We will stroll through the old town where we will enjoy a typical Calabrian lunch. Continuing to the Tyrrhenian coast, we will drive to Amantea for a walking tour of the medieval center, nestled on a hill under castle ruins, once the domain of Saracen invaders. We will then take our last ride along the Tyrrhenian Sea to our 4-star airport hotel. Farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 12 – Departure, transfer to Lamezia Terme Airport.


2020 Traditions and Food of Calabria Tour basics:

$3500 per person, $300 single supplement
Small group Calabria tour – maximum of 15 participants
Comprehensive Tour accompanied by Karen Haid, author of Calabria: The Other Italy, with expert Local Guide
11 nights in 4* hotels and an historic residence, breakfast daily, 10 lunches, 6 dinners, wine and water included with meals


To sign up for a Calabria tour or for more information, please use the Contact Page – looking forward to hearing from you!

How did the 2019 tour go? See a detailed account with photos on the blogpost My First Calabria Cultural Tour: Reviews and Reflections. Read about the founding of Karen’s Travel LLC and the inspiration for these Calabria tours on my 100th blogpost New Calabria Cultural Tour with Karen’s Travel LLC. For more information and photos of Calabria, click on the highlighted links in the itinerary, browse My Italian Blog and read my book Calabria: The Other Italy. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions about these exciting Calabria tours on the contact page.

Calabria tour

Fishing boat in Chianalea, Scilla