Small-group tour in Calabria

Impressions of a Small-Group Tour in Italy

Vacations are meant to be a special time, a breath of fresh air, whether for total relaxation, leisure travel, energetic activity or a combination thereof. With whom should you travel and where should you go? And just what would it be like to join a small-group tour in Southern Italy? 


small group tour in Calabria

In the Sila Mountains on a Calabria tour, photo by Todd Berry

This is the question posed by family, friends and the curious, interested in journeying past the well-worn places. Great! Well, that’s what I think, experiencing the small-group tour both at the helm and alongside my guests, listening, tasting and observing as closely as I can. The congenial travel party was most certainly content.

Karen’s Travel LLC specializes in small-group tours to lesser-known spots of Southern Italy. I have come to realize that a small-group tour doesn’t just mean a shorter line at the ladies room. When well executed, an expertly guided journey can foster a camaraderie in the shared experience, exploring and discovering side by side with new faces, both local and non, the learning and savoring of culture and food, some familiar and some not. It all comes together to tell a story.

small-group tour in South Italy

Making bread on a Calabria tour, photo by Todd Berry

Travelers share experiences and photos with their friends and families, many post on social media, some jot down their thoughts on TripAdvisor. On a small-group tour of Calabria this past fall, one creative participant wrote a lovely poem that she read aloud at the final dinner.



by Elizabeth Schlosser

Thank you Karen, Gianluca, guides Calabria.
We are packed and ready now to “scappi via”.
Farm to table, yellow potatoes in valley,
Driven everywhere with grace by our Pasquale.

Commedia dell’arte, Giordano, Boccioni.
All the great food, but I like best macaroni.
A region built mostly since oh, 1972.
Greek towns up in the Sierra Mountains, who knew?

146 castles, 200 torri.
Greeks, Romans, Normans, Albanians make the story.

Black pines, harp bridge, gray cows, swordfish, Scilla for lunch
Eggplant, peaches, bergamot, green grapes by the bunch.
The straits of Messina, whirlpools in the sea.
The unique bronzes of Riace, A and B.

The altar at Gerace, stately on a rock
We and Stanley Tucci where they make that fish stock.

Pythagoras, Roger, Vic Emanuel 3.
We’ve got them all placed now on our family tree.
One massive forest and mountains between two seas
Ten days here with wine is just where we want to be.

Sila high plains and this particular weather
Let us stay in touch and be good friends forever.

scappi via – dash off
torri – towers


What more can I say? We were amused, moved and impressed. Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your verses, and to everyone who has joined past tours. You have not only seen many beautiful places and learned new things but contributed to the esprit de corps, the spirito di squadra found on my small-group tours to out-of-the-way places in Southern Italy. Here’s to many more – alla vostra salute!

small-group tour in Italy

Alla vostra salute – to your health! (Gianluca, Karen and Pasquale – photo by Pam Iueli Simmons)

Photos on this post taken by tour guests – cover photo of Stromboli at sunset by Denise Patterson.

Join me on one of my comprehensive, small group tours of Calabria or Basilicata. Immerse yourself in its beauty, taste the incredible food, and soak up the culture first hand! See the detailed itineraries on the Calabria Tour page and Basilicata Tour page.

Read all about the fascinating Calabrian region in my book Calabria: The Other Italy, described by Publisher’s Weekly as “an intoxicating blend of humor, joy, and reverence for this area in Italy’s deep south,” and explore Calabria’s northern neighbor in my book Basilicata: Authentic Italy, “recommended to readers who appreciate all things Italian” by the Library Journal.Italy books

Follow me on social media: Basilicata Facebook pageCalabria: The Other Italy’s Facebook pageKaren’s Instagram and Karen’s Twitter for beautiful pictures and information.
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CALABRIA: The Other Italy and BASILICATA: Authentic Italy make great gifts!

Comments 8

  1. Yes, your small group tours are absolutely the way to travel! My husband & I had such a fantastic time with you, getting a truly authentic southern Italian experience with a group that we really enjoyed! When I’ve shown some snapshots to people they can’t believe how gorgeous it is, & don’t even get me started on the food & the gelato & I could go on & on! So I’ll just say if you’re thinking about going, DO IT…you will not be sorry you did. Buon Natale, Karen & the same to all my fellow travelers❣️

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  2. Yes from us too – my husband and I also loved our tour. We learned so much more about Calabria on this small tour than we did when we tried to stumble along on our own. The small intimate group tour was so much better than the typical bus tours, and we have enjoyed some of those but this was definitely a step above! Plus the pace of the tour did not seem rushed so your vacation is so much more relaxed.

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      I’m very happy to hear that you and your husband enjoyed your tour so much, Barbara, and that you appreciated the learning aspect, as well. I’ve worked hard to create the type of intimate, leisurely, immersive experience you describe and am truly pleased to hear that I’ve succeeded.

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      Yes, it most certainly is! And it is also rewarding to see how much participants absorb about the region through the tour. Here’s to many more, Bespoke Traveler – thank you!

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