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Calabria On My Mind

12 days tour

Calabria On My Mind

per person

This tour planning is a selection of emblematic, meaningful, intriguing places, destinations imprinted into a Calabrian heart. They are places making up an image of Calabria, our soul places that we want to tell about. We want to show them. We want you to know the best things to do in Calabria. It’s like when you’re the host and you feel an emotional tremble ‘cause you want to go with your guest around the new home, to describe the great care and passion put into action to design and furnish it, and decorate the apartment… so, enjoy 12 days of Calabrian full immersion, to explore the most exciting mountains, the lovely coastal and hilly views, charming villages, art signs and masterpieces representing Calabria all over the world.

Travel planning, consulting for a customized experience in Calabria

Calabria On My Mind is a long tour that requires a lot of attention in the organization. Tour operator should plan 4 changes of hotel accommodation (Morano, Scalea, Amantea, Sila) to make the journey by bus more comfortable, considering one simple thing: Calabrian roads are not easy.
We will help you (groups or individual travelers) if you need advice about transport, accommodation and food. Core Calabro gives answers and also recommendations when receiving guests’ demand, it’s too important to outline the tourist profile. Once we examine your request, the Core Calabro expert will answer you to talk about bus companies, restaurants, hotels, b&b. We are going to seek the customized travel experience.

  • Departure
    First, transfer to Calabria at a hotel or bed & breakfast in Morano Calabro/Castrovillari area, northern Calabria, you reach it via A2, Autostrada del Mediterraneo. You may consider flight option (destination Lamezia Terme) and then you can go to the hotel (bus transfer or rental car).
  • Dress Code
    Always wear sports shoes, you will often walk on cobblestones of the historic centers. Walking tours involving mountain hiking require clothing such as a padded sports jacket, backpack, hat or balaclava, gloves. It depends on whether you choose to explore the national park in winter rather than spring-summer-autumn. You can rent - on site - snow boots, poles and snowshoes, to walk better.
  • Included
    Food Tasting
    Licensed tourist guide
    Radio whispers, receivers appropriate for listening in the museums, in crowded places and for better social distancing, as the WHO recommends
    Umbrellas if necessary (also parasol)
  • Not Included
    Hotel, accomodations
    Lunch, dinner
    Museum tickets
    Parking tickets
The charm of the Pollino Massif - a natural barrier between Calabria and Basilicata - is, in our opinion, the first beautiful thing that every traveler must contemplate once he has reached Calabria. Among the best things to do in Calabria, well, Pollino is the first one. Trust us, begin your travel by exploring the magical Pollino mountain range and the beautiful villages that are located in the national park. You may select some transport options, according to travel agency you call: to take the highway (A2 Autostrada del Mediterraneo), by bus or by car; to land in Lamezia Airport; in both options, you reach the hotel in Morano/Castrovillari area.

Morano Calabro, village very close to the southern slopes of mount Pollino

The village of Morano almost looks like a pointed meatball (or rice ball!), in its upper part, rounded on a hill at the foot of the Pollino and Dolcedorme mountains. We are going to admire the polyptych by Bartolomeo Vivarini (1477), a series of 25 saints painted and inserted in a rich golden frame, a Gothic-Venetian pattern. Walking through the alleys and old houses you will arrive in the most beautiful naturalistic museum in Calabria: "il Nibbio". It hosts organic relics and accurate reproductions (dioramas) of high quality of the various fauna of the Pollino National Park. The collection of insects and butterflies is really incredible. Another option at the end of spring / early summer is a visit to the Lavender Park, the right time when the plant is blooming and it is a sight to see hectares of colorful flowers. Good lunch tasting local dishes and then transfer to Civita. But you can also go directly to Civita, a traditional arbëreshë community, to taste the flavors of Albanian gastronomy. Here old and young people carefully preserve the language of its ancestors and it will be very interesting to discover especially the traditional costumes and songs. All this beauty and such a culture, when walking among houses with a... human face! Anthropomorphic facades, called "Kodra houses" - in memory of the post-cubist master Ibrahim Kodra. Vivarini polyptych entrance: 1 euro. Nibbio: single ticket 4 euros (they offer lower fares for groups).
Trekking for nature lovers on POLLINO or on ORSOMARSO mountains (3rd option in summer: rafting Lao river)

Trunk of pino loricato, you see particular "scales" covering the bark

A special day for adventure lovers who need unspoiled nature, a day dedicated to explore the mountainous landscape of the deep north of Calabria: the Pollino Massif (national park). You can choose among more options indicated by the expert environmental guide who will be with us. We can take a walk in the green basins between Orsomarso mountains and Pollino. We can also try an exciting hike: the ascent of the 2267 meters of Serra Dolcedorme (the highest peak in Calabria), to contemplate the beauty of the pini loricati, one of the most frost-resistant species. Clung to the sides immediately below the peaks, this pine seems to escape and isolate itself from many beech trees. Powerful trunk, twisted, scaly bark, which suggests an appearance similar to the “lorica squamata”, the metal-scale vest that was worn by some categories of legionaries of ancient Rome (hence the name). You can also plan an adventurous rafting, a descent with rafts and kayaks along the Lao river, with instructors and rescue team in tow. Packed lunch. Comfortable shoes and clothing will be worn, with a backpack for some indispensable items, tools and materials for possible first aid.   Lao river: you pay ticket for rafting equipment and instructor assistance.
Romito Cave (BOS PRIMIGENIUS) in Papasidero + town of SCALEA

Bos Primigenius rock engraving, it is an urus,  extinct species of large wild cattle in the Paleolithic Age

We pack our bags because we move to the Tyrrhenian Coast. In the afternoon we will check in at a hotel in Scalea. First stop, in the morning, is the archeological site of Grotta del Romito (a prehistorical cave), municipality of Papasidero. On a boulder tourists can see the most famous cave engraving, dating back to the Upper Paleolithic - between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. That’s the stylized figure of an urus, the Bos Primigenius, a big extinct bovine that was hunted by hominids. The Bos perhaps represented for them, good hunters, a totemic figure. It was one of the most valuable sources of food. Lunch in Scalea. In the afternoon we'll walk around the beautiful old part of the Tyrrhenian town, where narrow stairs and streets blend nicely in wonderful corners. The church of San Nicola dei Greci preserves splendid Byzantine icons, they are frescos on the walls. Take note of this alternative. If there are good weather forecasts, and the sea is calm... we suggest to book a boat tour (2 hrs) around the Dino island, in front of Praia a Mare, a town very close to Scalea. Entrance to the Romito Cave and antiquarium: 4 euros. We're going to check if there are discounts and free pass.

Wall painting by Baruch Kadmon, he wanted to "duplicate" the famous shot "La Famiglia" by Paul Strand

The state road 18 (SS 18) is always a beautiful discovery, when you cross it as a tourist. You can see all those villages built spread over the hills, in the Middle Ages, to keep away the dangers that came from the sea. In Paola’s holy home of st. Francesco (founder of Ordine dei Minimi) tourists come from all over the world, to walk in the sacred places lived by that great man: Francesco Martolilla, the future saint and patron of Calabria. He was a humble boy who in the 30’s of XV century started a prodigious story, marked by miraculous actions that changed the Calabrian people feeling, the collective imagination. The Gospel, narrated from his mouth, was something amazing. What was the life of this extraordinary man like? Hermitage, detachment from the material goods of the world, extreme fasting, prayer. Around the small caves excavated to get a chapel and a place of shelter, in the middle of the fifteenth century, the most important sanctuary in Calabria began to form. Lunch at restaurant in Diamante, where in the afternoon an exciting journey into visionary art will be made. You’ll linger over murales, what they express, each with its particular message, set in the context of the era in which it was created. It is "the village of noses up", inevitable. Here in Diamante the colors of the paintings on the walls force you to walk with your head up and your gaze dazzled by bizarre shapes and subjects that want to communicate something.   Free entry.

Stromboli, volcano at sunset, a sort of Fellini's artistic invention for Amantea and neighborhood (ph Michele Polani)

Transfer to the hotel in Amantea, a maritime town with a long commercial tradition, here we will visit the enchanting old part in the morning, before lunch and check-in. The walk will be useful to see something related to local fishermen's life - fishing techniques and fish preservation. Amantea, in the past, was a great seafarer and trade community. We will also go into detail about the relationship between Amantea and the Franciscans of Assisi (we will visit the thirteenth century church and then the building, church and convent, dating back to the fifteenth century, dedicated to St. Bernardino from Siena). After lunch, stop in Fiumefreddo Bruzio, the most beautiful and welcoming balcony on this mirror of Tyrrhenian Sea. A town that can delight the tourists for many reasons... and for one great stroke of luck: the phenomenal artistic encounter with Salvatore Fiume. The versatile Sicilian genius, since the 1970’s, has disseminated his imaginative and nonconformist art in the streets, squares, in the walls of the old castle, transforming the image of the place. An artistic giant of the '900, of international fame.   No entry to pay.
TRACCIOLINO hilly pathway (Costa Viola) + folklore museum and art gallery in PALMI

Tourists walking the paths on the hills of the Costa Viola (ph Antonello Martino)

The cliffs of the Costa Viola, between Palmi, Bagnara Calabra and Scilla, are the most evocative the coastal landscape of Calabria can offer. From mount sant'Elia, just under 600 meters high, south zone of Palmi, there is a track for true hikers (7 km and a half ring route, medium difficulty, descend and climb), that we will do together with an expert environmental guide. We prefer smart local licensed guides, able to add value to the incredible views that open up between the green of the mediterranean scrub and the blue of the sea. Not recommended for those guys who fear vertigo-induced discomfort: the Tracciolino path is safe, but the position overlooking the sea can impress. Packed lunch, to be consumed when you return to the base. In the afternoon, we'll take a walk in the town of Palmi, whose ethnographic museum (in the House of Culture "Leonida Rèpaci") contains the most significant examples of Calabrian folklore. It's a big collection of tools used in the past (last two centuries), important things coming from farmhouse or spinning mill, or simply from normal daily life. You also find memories about The Varia procession, a wonderful example of popular religiosity. Varia means big religious float. A huge triumphal float, carried on the shoulders of hundreds of people, that supports a scaffold with the representation of the Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven. It is usually held on the last Sunday of August. In the same building of the folklore museum, take a note, there's an impressive art gallery. Many paintings from Leonida Repaci's House. Repaci was a great Calabrian writer.   Museum entrance: to be defined.

A modern spadara, swordfish hunting in the open sea

In Chianalea – the well-known area of Scilla - there are two constant factors influencing the travel experience: the breath and the smell of the sea. Always alive, penetrating, suggestive. The "spadare" feluccas, which seemingly wander aimlessly, are focused on the swordfish hunt: as soon as the lookout man on the vertical turret of the boat sees the movement on the surface of the water, he warns his teammates. First, he warns the skipper. The man with the harpoon, on the long gangway, will give the final assault. Marine emotions that today can also be experienced by tourists, by reservation. Lunch at restaurant in Scilla, then transfer to Reggio Calabria, the city with the best waterfront in Calabria. The national archeological museum, in Reggio, is one of the most important structures in the South Italy for the knowledge of the most prestigious finds from the Magna Graecia period. You must know the history of the Bronzes found in Riace. That's unique and exciting. Seen by a passionate diver in August 1972 not far from the Ionian shore of Riace (East Coast of Calabria), they were brought back to the surface accompanied by the - unsolved - mystery of where they were originally located and who they represented. Who were the Bronzes? It's a long and involving storytelling. We will tell you some news and all the hypotheses about their identity. Reggio museum: full ticket 8 euros (5 euros from 18 to 25 years old, free pass for UE citizens under 18). You get a special discount all Wednesdays: full ticket 6 euros, 4 euros the reduced one.

San Giovanni in Fiore, the only one nave inside the church of the Abbazia Florense

Our exciting tour moves into the green lung of Calabria, the wide forest as well as the SILA National Park, where in the early afternoon we are going to check in at a hotel. In the morning we visit the Abbazia Florense, in San Giovanni in Fiore, the spiritual home of the great philosopher and theologian Gioacchino da Fiore. In the afternoon, after lunch and after having deposited the luggage in the hotel, we're going to plan a pleasant and relaxing mountain bike ride - or on foot - along the paths around lake Arvo, accompanied by an environmental guide who will introduce you to the flora and fauna of the plateau. Mentioned even by Virgil in the Aeneid and in the Georgics, Sila has a "nordic face”, as Guido Piovene told in 1963: «[...] it seems to be catapulted into a corner of Scandinavia, with pine trees taller and slenderer than the firs».   Free entry.

Sila Grande (ph Antonello Martino)

Majestic trees looking like columns of a Greek temple, which amaze. The pini larici (larch pines) are even 40 meters high above our heads and they have incredible diameters of 2 meters. They are 350 years old and sure they are the unmovable symbols of the ancient Silva Brutia, the wide wood described by writers in Roman times. The imperial delegates obtained indispensable raw material - especially timber, and pitch to seal the hull of ships. You can explore the FAI reserve (Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano) of Croce di Magara, to embrace those fifty pines of colossal dimensions – also known as the Fallistro Giants. Or you can take part in a trek through the woods around lake Cecita, the largest artificial lake created for the production of hydroelectric energy in Sila. After the lunch break - for which you can organize an exquisite tasting of typical products, such as caciocavallo (cheese from cow's milk) or the Sila PGI potato in its various culinary elaborations - you go for a sightseeing tour in Camigliatello Silano, to learn about the roots, the culture, history and Sila economy. With an early booking, for large or small groups, you could make - alternatively in the afternoon - a tour by rail traveling by train pulled by the old steam locomotive (railway station on mountain, 1400 meters high). Natural reserve entrance: 3 euros kids 4/14 years old; full ticket 5 euros.
SANTA SEVERINA and vineyard Gaglioppo (CIRÒ DOC)

CIRÒ, the local red grape Gaglioppo, mother of the great famous Calabrian doc (PDO) wine, ph Mavi Peña

From the Sila pathways of ineffable beauty we move towards the valley of the Neto river, which is a gateway to the Ionian Sea of ​​equally charm and countless natural wonders. Santa Severina is a village standing on a block of sandstone, dominant, it perfectly conveys the brilliance of the communities that over the centuries have adapted construction techniques to the harshness of the place. Here we will visit the robust castle, which insists on the west side of the rocky peak of the ancient Siberene. Then it will be the turn of the cathedral of Saint Anastasia, which is contiguous to the byzantine baptistery characterized by a greek cross plan and 8 columns surrounding the baptismal font, a rarity. After lunch at a farm-restaurant, in the early afternoon we're going to reach a field to appreciate some of the vines that best adapt to the Cirotano terroir, above all the Gaglioppo, the main component of the PDO Cirò wine. In the evening we’ll move to the hotel in Rossano Calabro, for our last overnight stay.   Santa Severina castle entrance: 4 euros. We're going to check if you can pay less, special offer or discount.
ROSSANO CALABRO and back home

ROSSANO CALABRO, Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, a Byzantine rarity

A journey into the world of icons, art and architecture that the Byzantine culture created in Calabria: this is the final program of our tour, walking around Rossano Calabro. That’s the city of the prestigious Amarelli company, the queen of licorice, at the museum-store you can make the last stop before returning home. Interesting monuments in the morning. We will go to the cathedral of the Holy Achiropita (an icon not painted by human hand, people say...). You must visit the rich diocesan museum to see the famous "book"... Codex Purpureus!! It's a manuscript with bright miniatures illustrating Gospels' scenes of the New Testament. Letters imprinted in purple parchment, Codex is the jewel of the byzantine artistic production. We want to show you the little lovely churches of san Marco and Panaghìa, architectures that brilliantly testify the way of building of the Byzantines. Packed lunch and transfer to the airport (Crotone or Lamezia) or, in case of return by bus, the main road is the A2 highway, which is about forty kilometers away.   Codex museum entrance: 5 euros; you pay 4 euros if you are in 20 people organized group; 3 euros for school kids 7 / 14 years old; free pass under 7 years old.