La Bella Calabria
Calabria is the most southern region of the Italian mainland with over 700 km of coastline. It is located between the Amalfi Coast, and Basilicata in the North, and Sicily in the South. Calabria is surrounded by two seas, the Tyrrhenian Sea in the West and the Ionian Sea in the East. One of the most picturesque part of it's coastline is called "Costa degli Dei", the "Coast of Gods", with some steep rocks, white sandy beaches and a crystal clear turquoise sea. This scenic area starts shortly after the international airport of Lamezia, and includes the towns of Pizzo Calabro, Tropea, and Capo Vaticano.
Calabria is rich in history dating back many thousands of years BC. There are traces of Greek, Arab, Roman, Goths, Norman, Swabian, French and Spanish cultural heritage, as well as culinary influences. There are beautiful churches, abandoned monasteries, pirate watch towers and castles to discover.
Despite Calabria having suffered under many different conquerors and exploiting feudal systems in the past, the young Calabrese today - who are not emigrating to the North or abroad in search for work - are optimistic and proud of their region.
The Ciro wines from the Ionian Coast, originating from Greek grapes, are well accompanying the authentic taste of the rustic and spicy cucina calabrese. Fruit and vegetables grown under the Calabrian sun are tasting just amazing. The region's olive oil, famous for its rich taste, is supplied all over Italy and abroad. In fact, Calabria is developing into a global player for export of agricultural products.
Calabria, still touristically undeveloped and undiscovered, seems now the fastest growing region for tourism in Italy.
Pizzo (VV) is the ideal base to discover Calabria. Take a local train for day trips along the coast or rent a car to explore the hinterland.
How to reach Calabria:
BY AIR: Lamezia Terme (SUF) international airport is connected with around 40 destinations in 12 countries via various airlines, mainly from spring to autumn. (See list of international direct flights to Lamezia.) There are as well daily flights from Milan and Rome all year round. It is about one hour flight from Rome to Lamezia. Another airport in Calabria is at the tip of the toe in Reggio Calabria.
BY TRAIN: You can reach Calabria from Northern Italy and from Sicily by train. There are local trains passing all villages on the Tyrrhenian coast. And there is the newer "Tyrrhenian line" that is used by fast trains (Le Frecce) and Intercity trains from Naples, Rome, Florence, Turin, Milan, Venice and other Northern cities, as well as from towns in Calabria and Sicily. It is about a 2 1/2 h train ride from Salerno (Amalfi) to Pizzo - or 3 1/2 h from Catania in Sicily. In Messina the state run trains ship wagons by ferry to Villa San Giovanni in Calabria (no extra ticket needed). For more information, visit TrenItalia’s website and Straits of Messina.
BY CAR: From the North, take the highway A2 "Autostrada del Mediterraneo" (former A3) in direction Reggio Calabria (aka Reggio or RC). This highway is part of the European E45. Coming from Sicily by car you need to take the ferry boat between Messina in Sicily and Villa San Giovanni, in Calabria. It takes just 30 minutes by boat and ferries run about 18 times a day (see more info about the Strait of Messina).
More about Calabria
Things to do in Pizzo (a brief post)
Le Castella and Ciro (KR)
Day trip to the Eolian Islands
Read below more about the seasons and weather in Calabria!
Artists in Calabria:
Ceramic art from Seminara
Ceramic artist Antonio Montesanti
Antonio La Gamba
Visual artist and photographer Francesca Procopio
Distances between Pizzo Calabro (VV) in Calabria and :
Lamezia International Airport (26 km, 30 min)
Vibo Marina port (4 km, 7 min)
Vibo Valentia (12 km, 20 min)
Briatico, Punto Safo Beach (about 15 km, 20 min)
Tropea (28 km, 32 min) - also by local train from Pizzo
Capo Vaticano (about 40 km, 50 min)
Serra San Bruno (42 km, 45 min)
Catanzaro (via A3, SS280 60 km, 50 min)
Seminara (via A3 65 km, 50 min)
Scilla (via A3 83 km, 60 min) - also by train from "Vibo - Pizzo"
Soverato (via SS182 65 km, 1h15)
Reggio Calabria airport (via A3, 104 km, 1h15 or by train from "Vibo Valentia - Pizzo")
Stilo (via SS110, 79 km, 1.5 h min)
Gerace (SS18, SS11 90 km, 1.5 h)
Le Castella (via Catanzaro, 104 km, 1.5 h)
Badolato (via Catanzaro, Soverato, 99 km, 1.5 h)
Gambarie, Aspromonte National Park (A3/E45, 96 km, 1.5 h) <-- skiing! *
Camigliatello Silano, Sila National Park (A3/E45, 123 km, 1.5 h) <-- skiing!*
Ciro (via Catanzaro, Le Castella, 164 km, 2.5 h)
Messina, Sicily (via A3 and ferry 105 km, about 2h)
Taormina and Etna, Sicily (via A3 and ferry about 155 km, 2.5 - 3 h)
Catania, Sicily airport (via A3/E45, A18/E45, ferry, 196 km, about 3 - 3.5 h)
Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Sicily (40 nautical miles from Pizzo, up to 12h round-trip by ferry, see Day Trips)
Amalfi, Positano (via A3 365 km, about 4h drive, or by fast train from/to Salerno 2.5 h only plus ferry)
Napoli airport (via A3 405 km, about 4h by car)
Roma airport (1h flight to "Lamezia SUF", 5h by fast train to "Vibo Valentia - Pizzo", 600 km or 6h drive by car to Pizzo)
Please note: There are no direct flights between Napoli, Bari or Catania and Lamezia as the distances are too short. Therefore you need to take a train or rent a car when landing in Naples, Catania or Bari. Cars can be rented at the airports. Trains can be booked online. Also check the fast trains "Le Frecce" with www.trenitalia.com. Please also note that in 2018 the autostrada A3 "Salerno-Reggio Calabria" was renamed into A2 "Autostrada del Mediterraneo".
Introduction to Calabrian History (compiled by Michele Fabio from the blog 'Bleeding Espresso')
Discovering Calabria along the autostrada del mediterraneo A2
Seasons and Weather in Calabria
We deem the best time to travel is from APRIL to OCTOBER:
In APRIL, usually the temperatures of the air and sea are still fresh, and their might be stormy and rainy days, but also beautiful sunny spring days. It is definitely less touristy - and that's why we like it in Pizzo in April. Some people already go for a swim in April. (Average low at night 11 degree, average high 18 degree Celsius). In OCTOBER it is still warm (average low 16, average high 22), less touristy, usually lots of sunshine, but the weather is getting more unstable. NOVEMBER can be very lovely still, and then locals still go for a swim as the weather can be like summer! But if you want to explore the mountains, you might find already some snow in Sila. AUGUST is the hottest (average high 31) and most busy month of the entire year. All Italy travels to the beaches. If you love the craziness, the nightly entertainment, the traffic, the chaos and to eat around 10pm in a vibrant piazza, then welcome to Pizzo in August. You might like my post about September 1st: Summer is over for Italians.
Regarding the rain, please note, the wind makes the clouds travel fast. Showers usually are short between May and October. That's why Calabria is so green. We love Calabria all year round (except for August). Regarding taking a bath in the sea, we personally prefer swimming in the sea between June and October when the water temperature reaches from 23 up to 29 degrees Celsius. But check out also my post when we went swimming in April here.
Winter in Calabria:
In January 1999 most Pizzitani for the first time in their lives woke up to snow in Pizzo. Old photos show snow in the alleys and snow on the roofs of Pizzo, a historical event! But Calabria has a mild, sometimes slightly cool (due to winds) and wet winter season. If it is cold enough it even snows in the mountains. There are two small calabrian ski resorts in the national parks where you could run down ski slopes with breathtaking sea views. The ski lifts in Sila are around 1 1/2 drive from Pizzo. During winter it’s necessary to heat with central heating, fire chimneys or pellet ovens. (We offer our guest central heating in our apartments.) Although we often see 15 degree Celsius on Christmas Day, and people sit outside in the piazza eating ice cream, please do not underestimate the temperature in Calabria between November and April, and the evening breeze. Calabria is often cooler than Sicily and it might rain more during winter. But therefore it's greener! Of course March brings back sunny spring days and temperature can reach again 20 degree Celsius which seduces brave locals along with some nordic tourists to take their first quick bath in the sea. The brave ones swim form March to November. For more information and impressions read my blog posts about winter in Calabria.