Italy
Calabria Tour – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem

Our Calabria tour – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem is an 9 day Small Group Tour starting from £2295 per person.


Whilst the famous boot of Italy’s idiosyncratic coastline is instantly recognised by all, few could tell you that at the very toe of the profile lies the delightful region of Calabria.

Indeed its isolation and dramatic topography has meant that it remains an enigma even to most Italians. And yet the vertiginous cliffs, secluded beaches and circuitous mountain passes hide a treasure-trove of delights which will leave you wondering why the Calabrian lands are not far more heralded.

 

Our Calabria tour takes you into the heart of a world of contrasts, a natural landscape that astounds and enchants in equal measure and which will leave you constantly scrabbling for your camera or simply contemplating the majesty of nature’s brushstrokes.

Equally, humanity’s hand here has been sympathetic and noble in its use of the chaotic geography of the setting: from the swagger of Greco-Roman towns to quaint Albanian Greek refuges, from Norman military grandeur to the artistic triumphs of ornate Baroque churches and medieval monastic frescoes, Calabria is a cornucopia of historic sites.

We lead you on a circumnavigation of the secluded peninsula from aristocratic Altomonte and Morano, perched precariously on the slopes of the Pollino, down the Ionian coast to discover the remains of glorious Sibari. We hear an antique version of Albanian on the streets of San Demetrio Corone before traversing the heights of the luxuriant Sila plateau where we can relax on the banks of its idyllic lakes.

A night amidst the curious Alpine Mancuso village’s wooden houses is the precursor to the remarkably intact mediaeval borgo of Santa Severina. Heading down to the mesmerising ancient ruins of the Hera Lacinia Temple and Crotone, we also cross to the hidden pearl of Le Castella’s island citadel.

At every turn on this Calabria tour, expect the architecture to be compelling in its contrast, and none more so than at the Norman and Byzantine masterpieces of Stilo and Gerace, the bourbon ironworks of Mongiana and the tranquil Charterhouse hidden among the Serre’s woods. The latter stages of the tour explore the emerald coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea with the unforgettable beauty of the towns of Pizzo and Tropea, and the magnificent Capo Vaticano.

Finally, we take you to Scilla, the enchanting guardian town of the Messina Strait that gazes imperiously across to Sicily, and then to “the most beautiful kilometre in Italy” at Reggio Calabria, home to the amazing ancient Riace Bronzes and a worthy climax to a tour steeped in culture, history and simply exquisite scenery.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary

Arrive in Lamezia Terme and transfer to your hotel where the rest of the day will be at leisure with no guided activities. Overnight Hotel Cantagallo or similar

(Approximate overall driving time today is 2 hours)

Begin the Calabria tour when you arrive at Lamezia Terme where you will be met by your tour guide who will escort you inland to the medieval borgo of Altomonte, a key centre during Norman and Angevin times. Enjoy a welcome lunch comprised of typical Calabrian specialties before heading to visit to the Church of San Francesco di Paola. After eating, you will enjoy a walking tour through the beautiful old town, ascending to the lofty perch of the Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione which houses the best examples of late medieval art in Calabria; adjacent is the 15th century Convent of the Dominican Fathers, nowadays a museum housing, amongst other exhibits, the famous altarpiece by Italian Gothic master Simone Martini. A short trip takes you on to your final destination for the day, the exquisite borgo of Morano Calabro, a maze of ancient spiralling streets nestling on the slopes of the imposing Monte Pollino range. A walk through its charming heart reveals a series of fascinating piazzas and churches, some dating back as far as the 5th century and resplendent in fine arts, such as statues by Pietro, father of the great Bernini. The day’s exploration culminates at the summit of the town from where the Norman-Swabian Castle dominates the valley below. Overnight Meruo B and B or similar  (L)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 2.5 hours)

Following breakfast, your expedition wends its way towards Civita, a dramatic spur settlement, still inhabited by the descendants of the Albanians who arrived here in 1467. A visit to the Museum of the Arbëresh Culture will reveal some of the ancient customs and traditions of the local ethnic group. Exploring the intriguing old town, the houses are striking, from the elaborate chimneys to the “kodra” type, identifiable by a façade that echoes the traits of a human face. Later you visit the ornate Greek-Byzantine church and then pause to admire the breathtaking panoramas of the Sibari Plain, Ionian Sea and the vertiginous profundity of the Raganello Canyon that yawns beneath the Devil’s Bridge. Your next stop will be at Cerchiara, located at more than 1000m and boasting the lovely sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Armi, founded in 1400 on the remains of a 10th century Basilian hermitage. There will be time to delve into the church’s interior, hewn out of the living rock and perched on the precarious cliffs of Mount Sellaro. After drinking in another glorious vista, your journey moves on to Sibari where you will have lunch before experiencing the National Museum of Sibaritide and the adjacent archaeological park. (B)

Please note that Sibari Museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays.

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5 hours)

After breakfast, you head towards the more remote and less-visited hinterland of the region. Away from the coasts the cultural isolation of this region becomes apparent, allowing several ethnic minority cultures to survive extraordinarily intact to this day. One such example is to be seen at San Demetrio Corone, another gem of the Albanian / Arbëresh culture where the streets, squares and cafes still echo to the ancient Albanian tongue. Here is preserved the splendid Basilica of San Adriano, one of the most interesting and least known enclaves in the history of Italian art, a marvellous mix of Lombard, Byzantine and Norman styles. A visit to the Italo-Albanian College will include a meeting with local representatives of the Albanian linguistic minority before being treated to a typical Arbëresh lunch at a local restaurant. Beyond, your drive takes you on towards the Sila Plateau, a richly diverse landscape featuring pine forests, vivid green pastures and the verdant banks of the Arvo and Cecita lakes, all reminiscent of Swiss Alpine scenery. Passing through the unexpected ski resort of Camigliatello, you will visit the “La Nave della Sila” museum of Italian emigration. Continue through the mountainous topography to your destination of Mancuso Village. (BL)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5 hours)

Your departure this morning will be quite early to allow your visit to the Sila Plateau to end with a stop at Ampollino Lake’s atmospheric shores. After that, the route heads down to San Giovanni in Fiore, where you will visit the 13th century Gothic-Romanesque Florense Abbey whose monastic bell tower has echoed out over the Neto Valley for over 800 years. Then you descend towards the Ionian coast, an arid contrast to the lush landscapes of the interior. Stop for lunch (own expense) on the Santa Severina Hill, from which you can enjoy a superb view of the surrounding mountains and sea. Afterwards, exploring the quaint and extraordinarily pretty old town will reveal a rugged castle and small cathedral, atop twin rocky spurs at the pinnacles of the settlement. Arriving in the afternoon in Capo Colonna, you will visit the remains of the Doric temple of Hera Lacinia, in ancient times the most famous of the Italian peninsula, now reduced to a solitary column that stands sentinel against the cobalt blue of the Ionian Sea. This marks the extremity of the most eastern promontory of all Calabria. Continue to Le Castella to visit the picture-book Aragonese Castle, a bold and iconic island fortress built on Hellenistic foundations and connected to the mainland by a thin sinew of land. (BL)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours)

The Calabria tour has an early departure in the cool of the morning which leads you south and towards the least well-known area of ​​Calabria. Your first stop will be to visit Roccelletta di Borgia, site of the former Greco-Roman city of Scolacium, still evident from the numerous paved streets, forum, theatre, and, above all, wonderful collection of imperial marble statues from the Augustan era that can be viewed in the site’s excellent museum. Heading still further south, you come upon the sudden surprise of Cattolica di Stilo, a splendid pearl of 10th century Byzantine architecture built on an isolated prominence. After time for lunch (own expenses), you continue to Gerace, one of the most aristocratic cities of Calabria, whose name reflects its Greek origins, its founders having fled Saracen persecution and supposedly followed a sparrowhawk (‘hierax’) to this lonely point. You will investigate the absorbing old town, the exterior of the Norman Castle, the Cathedral with its idiosyncratic double apsidal end and the Church of San Francesco sporting a splendid Gothic portal. (B)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5 hours)

Today your route lies amidst the captivating Serre mountains, where time-honoured local crafts still survive: along the way there will be a pause by the charcoal burners who still practice the traditional methods of this ancient art. Entering the heart of the Serre, you reach Mongiana, a village clinging to the wooded hillside, whose cobbled streets are home to the museum of the Royal Ironworks which indicate its former industrial glory. Continuing to Serra San Bruno, considered the Serre’s “capital”, you explore the old town and its Baroque era churches. After lunch (own expense) you will peruse the grandeur of the cloistered Charterhouse, whose charming wooded seclusion and remarkably preserved cells keep alive the sense of the purity of the setting that Saint Bruno chose for his abstemious monastery in 1091. Beyond its enclave, the way leads on to the saint’s sanctuary of Santa Maria del Bosco, surrounded, as the name suggest, by a dense forest which hides the grotto where Saint Bruno prayed, as well as the reputedly curative Lake of Miracles. At the end of the visit the road descends westwards from the Serre to the splendid Tyrrhenian coast and Pizzo Calabro. Be sure to sample the “truffle”, a local speciality of ice cream, rich in cream and chocolate. (B)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 2.5 hours)

In the morning you will stroll the environs of mediaeval Pizzo Calabro’s setting on the edge of the cliff (or ‘pizzu’ in Calabrian dialect), visiting the castle and beautiful Piazza della Repubblica, before descending to the church of the Madonna di Piedigrotta, a sanctuary entirely hollowed out of the rock near the beach of Pizzo, at the site of a 1632 shipwreck. From Pizzo, you continue to Tropea along the breathtaking Tyrrhenian ‘Coast of the Gods’, where rocky precipices that cascade into the characteristic emerald green deeps offer a very different experience to the parched Ionian seaboard. Here, the alluringly beautiful town is home to a noble Norman cathedral and to the delightful sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola, situated on the pinnacle of a small islet stack of rock gazing inland across to the town. Tropea itself clings tenaciously to the very rock-faces in this most dramatic of situations. Moving on in the early afternoon, the road reaches its terminus at the arresting peninsula of Capo Vaticano where there will be time to imbibe the views from this splendid vantage point. A tumble of sheer cliffs above impressive fissures and caves where the turquoise waters have carved out savage scars makes for one of the photographic highlights of the tour. After that, you continue to Scilla, the picturesque small town at the entrance of the Strait, celebrated by those lucky enough to be in-the-know for its beach, arguably the most beautiful of Calabria. Venturing into the upper city, you can stand on its imposing square-belvedere which affords lovely views of the Costa Viola, Sicily, the Gulf of Gioia Tauro and the distant Aeolian Islands. Ruffo Castle, built in the 16th century, is also on your itinerary and boasts a similarly dynamic setting, a fortress constructed on craggy buttresses which plunge into the sea hundreds of feet below, and standing sentinel over the fascinating town. (B)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 2 hours)

After breakfast, your journey makes its final foray south towards what the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio termed “the most beautiful kilometer in Italy”, heading along a breathtaking route that flanks the shores and the craggy hills which tumble down into its azure depths. After a short, but incredibly photogenic drive you will reach Reggio Calabria the celebrated City of the Straits that gazes across wistfully to Sicilian Messina. A visit to the archaeological museum (closed on Mondays) focuses on the two exquisite 5th century Riace Bronzes, unearthed as recently as the 70s on the Ionian seabed nearby. There will be time to relax for lunch on the promenade from where you can enjoy a marvellous view of the nearby Sicily. In the afternoon, your route retraces its steps along the idyllic Tyrrenian Sea coast and the rolling verdant hills, before transferring you to Lamezia Terme International Airport for your onward flight and the end of this wonderful Calabria tour. (B)

Dates & Price.

  • Tour Code
    Start
    End
    Trip Status
    Pricing
     
  • Tour Code 21-01 APR
    Start Friday April 2, 2021
    End Saturday April 10, 2021
    Available
     
    Available Seats: 12

    Adult ( 4 - 12 Pax ) £2,295.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Italy – Calabria – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem – Single Supplement
    £ 345.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More
  • Tour Code 21-02 MAY
    Start Friday May 7, 2021
    End Saturday May 15, 2021
    Available
     
    Available Seats: 12

    Adult ( 4 - 12 Pax ) £2,295.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Italy – Calabria – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem – Single Supplement
    £ 345.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More
  • Tour Code 21-03 JUN
    Start Friday June 4, 2021
    End Saturday June 12, 2021
    Available
     
    Available Seats: 12

    Adult ( 4 - 12 Pax ) £2,295.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Italy – Calabria – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem – Single Supplement
    £ 345.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More
  • Tour Code 21-04 SEP
    Start Friday September 10, 2021
    End Saturday September 18, 2021
    Available
     
    Available Seats: 12

    Adult ( 4 - 12 Pax ) £2,295.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Italy – Calabria – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem – Single Supplement
    £ 345.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More
  • Tour Code 21-05 OCT
    Start Friday October 8, 2021
    End Saturday October 16, 2021
    Available
     
    Available Seats: 12

    Adult ( 4 - 12 Pax ) £2,295.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Italy – Calabria – Italy’s Secret Southern Gem – Single Supplement
    £ 345.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More

Tour Notes

This Calabria group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 4 travellers.

The single supplement on the Calabria tour starts from £345.

Return flights from London to Lamezia Terme start at £90. Contact us for a quotation.

We know that for many of our destinations flying cannot be avoided. But we believe that for some of our tours, taking the train is a practical, affordable and most of all a very enjoyable alternative. Even flying in just one direction will have a very positive benefit on the environment. To compare the emissions for your next trip take a look at this easy to use emissions calculator – https://uic.org/ecopassenger.

Contact us for further details about how we can help you plan the perfect environmentally friendly addition to your Calabria tour. As well as train tickets, we can arrange stopovers along the way, including hotels and guided tours.

If you do not wish to be part of a the Calabria tour group then you can do the same tour on a private basis. On a private basis, this same itinerary starts from £2955 per person, based on two people travelling and sharing a room.

Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please contact us so we can tailor your perfect tour to Italy.

Why not extend on from this group tour with some tailormade trekking in superb Calabria. Please contact us for options.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Private transport throughout
  • All accommodation
  • Local site guides where necessary
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas if applicable
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Drinks
  • Tips (Discretionary)