Italy
Calabria Trek – From the Ionian to the Tyrrhenian Sea  

Calabria Trek– From the Ionian to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Enjoy an 8 day tailormade tour from £1795 per person.


Italy is one of Europe’s most popular destinations and the jewels in its crown are traditionally the ancient and historic powerhouses. Rome, Venice, Pompeii and the stunning array of picturesque northern cities whose names trip off the tongue like an incantation of artistic and cultural devotion.

Undiscovered Italy

Tread a little further into the less-trodden pathways and still much heralded names abound. Namely, Lake Como, The Dolomites, the Italian Tyrol, Puglia and the Amalfi coast. However, the south-western peninsula has somehow maintained its obscurity right into modern times.

Having much more in common with neighbouring Sicily and its colonial forebears, the Greeks, few Italians have made it down to the remarkably beautiful Calabrian region. Still fewer outsiders have even heard of the place. Discover more on this amazing  Calabria trek.

 

The elegant toe of Italy’s idiosyncratic booted outline is an astonishingly alluring coastline. Dramatic cliffs plunge down to turquoise waters fringed by virtually empty beaches that stretch from the Ionian to the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Within these confines lies a truly enigmatic and undisturbed expanse of natural delights. For example, the uplands of the Aspromonte National Park. Here tiny villages, borghi and towns of amazing antiquity nestle amidst rugged ridges and splendid peaks. A curious mix of ethnicities, origins and cultures maintains a way of life that has perpetuated in remarkably untainted fashion for many centuries.

Walking Holiday

Our Calabria trek holiday takes you through jaw-droppingly idyllic scenery. Walk along antique trails and surrounded by wildlife that clings on in virtually pristine mountain habitats. Enjoy a series of compelling encounters with isolated and deeply hospitable settlements.

From eagle owls to ruined Norman castles that perch  precariously on vertiginous rocky outcrops, Calabria is full of intriguing and utterly picturesque surprises.  These are all of them accessible to those willing to stride out in search of its hidden glories.

Sleeping in locally owned properties and sampling home-cooked fare, our Calabria trek leads you on a tranquil and fascinating journey during which you will gain a sense of true escape and adventure. In a country where such opportunities might have seemed a thing of the long-forgotten past, discover Italy’s most secret gem.

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

(Today’s approx. overall driving time is 3 hours.)

Begin your Calabria trek holiday when you arrive at Reggio Calabria where you will be met by our local representative who will escort you to the start of the tour. You walk some of the shoreline of a city which is considered to sport one of the best Italian corniches. it is carved into the cliff edges, overlooking the Messina strait and nearby island of Sicily.

The route then descends to the southernmost point of the Italian Peninsula along the rugged Ionian Sea coast. As you turn up into the Aspromonte mountain range you come to the extraordinary ghost town of Pentedattilo. Situated at 280m above sea level, on the steep slopes of Monte Calvario, a mountain whose outline resembles five fingers, the few remaining inhabitants still speak an old Greek language. These are the descendants of the Byzantine people who lived here until 1059, having opened a few amenities to cater for curious visitors.

Your walk through this timeless “borgo” will lead to its tenacious Norman castle and the Saint Peter and Paul church. Dinner this evening will be in a local house. Overnight Pentedattilo – Case Rurali di Pentedattilo – Ospitalità Diffusa (D)

Trek difference in altitude: ascents 570 m; descents 350 m
Approx. 6 hours trekking – 20 km

Following a home-prepared breakfast, you stride out towards the Aspromonte National Park, walking across olive groves and climbing up to Punta di Leo (502 m) and Punta d’Argento (743 m). From the summits the view is simply spectacular.

Gradually losing height, your route crosses the foaming waters of the Melito torrent (400 m) to re-ascend slightly to Bagaladi by the afternoon (475 m). Your Ospitalità Diffusa room awaits, and after checking in you will have time to explore the streets of this isolated and fascinating small town. Probably founded in the 10th century A.D., the etymology of Bagaladi suggests Arab origins: Baha’Allah (‘God’s beauty’).

The narrow ways all converge at the small central piazza and we visit the Mother Church which houses a 15th century painting and interesting marble crucifix and statues. As you scan the surrounding agricultural lands, the importance of olive oil production is inescapable and the evening meal will doubtless have been cooked in oil emanating from trees within a stone’s throw of your dining table.  Overnight Bagaladi – Ospitalità Diffusa (BLD)

The changes in altitude on todays walk: ascents 570 m; descents 350 m
Approx. 7 hours trekking – 14 km

Breakfast is again a local affair. Do ask your hosts about the delicacies that they prepare for you . You leave the hospitality of Bagaladi to continue your trekking route to San Lorenzo Superiore (786 m), the small agricultural town of San Pantaleone (540 m), and then on to Cataluce Mountain (544 m).

Your way leads across two torrents to reach the “borgo” of Amendolea (150 m). This is now a virtual ghost town with the vestiges of its opulent past still evident in the ruins of the once-noble castle on the hills above. Tonight, you will spend the night in a pleasant rural farmhouse which overlooks orchards of organically grown and rather sour bergamot oranges. It is this fruits aromatic skin which is used to perfume Early Grey tea.

During our stay, we will hope to meet a local family involved in production of this very localised and important crop.  Here you will also enjoy home cooked food and the dappled-shaded terrace is a wonderful place to relax. If your legs are not too weary, you may wish to climb up to the ruins of the ancient Norman citadel which offers a breathtaking panorama of the area. Overnight Amendolea – Azienda Agrituristica il Bergamotto – Farmhouse Hotel, or similar.  (BLD)

There is difference in altitude on the trek: ascents 1,100 m; descents 536 m

However if  you do not wish to do the climb to Bova as this can be quite strenuous especially if it is hot, then you can follow the torrent from Molino

Approx. 6½ hours trekking – 18 km

Today you will make an early morning start as a more challenging day’s trekking awaits. Your route will thread through the mountains to reach the Greek-speaking area of the Aspromonte Mountain range.

After crossing the Amendolea torrent, you will begin a steady ascent of Mount Maradha (463 m) and Palazzine (553 m) before reaching the settlement of Gallicianò (620 m). This is considered locally to be “the most Greek town in all Italy”. Thanks to its isolation, it has retained much of the original language of its colonial ancestors and the accompanying traditions. Here you will enjoy a lunch in the local style as a precursor to reconnoitering the small town including its Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint Mary of Greece.

The afternoon’s walking leads on through the ubiquitous Mediterranean maquis to the ruins of the Focolio Mill (250 m) before a steady uphill pull to Bova (850 m). Historically a centre of much renown, until recently it boasted its own bishop. There will be time to take a break at your Ospitalità Diffusa before having your evening meal at one of the local restaurants.

Goats’ meat pasta dishes and cold meats such as capicollo and soppressata, as well as regional cheeses pecorino, and lestopitta are all worth looking out for. Overnight Bova Cooperativa San Leo – Ospitalità Diffusa, B&B e Ristorazione. (BLD)

Note – In the hottest months (July and August) the track that leads from the Focolio Mill to Bova is particularly hot owing to the black rocks on the path which absorb the sun’s rays. Your route will deviate slightly, instead following the small creek “Fiumara” and its refreshing cool waters. The ascent to Borva will be completed in transport.

Today’s difference in trek altitude: ascents 800 m; descents 700 m.
Approx. 7 hours trekking – 20 km

We are now midway through your Calabria trek. Today offers the opportunity to discover Bova and its surrounding area. You will follow a loop trek on a historical route to località Polemo (810 m). From here you will start the climb to Monte Grosso (1300 m). Here you get spectacular views over the Amendolea torrent, ghost villages of Roghudi e Africo Vecchio and the unmistakable outline of Mount Etna’s active volcanic peak.

Lunch will be taken in a forest shelter at around 1200m, before you make a steady descent to the haven of Bova. This seems positively urban after the tranquility of walking amidst high elevations and exhilarating isolation. Tonight’s dinner will be in one of Bova’s local restaurants. Overnight Bova Cooperativa San Leo – Ospitalità Diffusa,  (B,L,D)

The difference in altitude on todays walk: ascents 300 m; descents 600 m
Approx. 6 hours trekking – 16 km

Your breakfast is welcome ballast before a day that includes a great range of physical, historical and gastronomic challenges. In the morning you will discover the historical city centre of Bova with its narrow lanes and antiquated buildings, its eminent and absorbing cathedral and basilica.

The nick name of the village is the “hawks nest”. Time spent contemplating the view from its streets and the ramparts of the ruined 10th to 12th century Norman citadel offers some sense of the gaze of the bird of prey into the valley below. Bova is very much the beating heart of the Greek community that defines so much of the area, proudly ensuring that the flame of Byzantine culture still burns brightly here.

The Calabria trek continues to the Fiumara San Pasquale (420 m), Agrappidà Mount (690 m) to reach, in the afternoon, the town of Palizzi Superiore (272 m). Here there is time to visit the small historical town centre with its elegant orthodox-domed Church of Sant’Anna. Palizzi is also home to its own IGT (Indicazione geografica tipica) red wine. This is much prized for its delicacy and made using time-honoured methods and local grape varieties, reputedly brought here by Greek settlers in the 8th century. A bottle of this is an ideal accompaniment to dinner in a local house, well suited to pasta and red meat dishes. Overnight Palizzi Superiore – Ospitalità Diffusa. (BLD)

There is a difference in trekking altitude: ascents 800 m; descents 800 m
Approx. 7 hours trekking – 18 km

Rejuvenated by breakfast, your trek will ascend the slopes to the tiny hamlet of Pietrapennata (680 m), home to a mere 40 people and lying at the head of a deep valley choked with thick woodland. You then head on to the haunting ruins of the Madonna dell’Alica monastery, following a scenic trekking route above “Capo Spartivento” the southernmost promontory of the Italian peninsula.

Standing alongside the crumbling bell-tower of the defunct church, offers glorious views across the tumbling forested ridges of the Aspromonte to the hazy azure of the Ionian Sea. You press on to Monte Cerasia, (1013 m) and then reach Staiti (530 m). This is a fascinating “borgo” that dates back to the XVI century and is the venue for your final night in the mountains of Calabria. Tonight’s evening meal will be in a local house and is a chance to reflect on the delights of the past week’s peregrinations! Overnight Staiti – Ospitalità Diffusa. (BLD)

Note – Sometimes it may not be possible to sleep in Staiti, but after the visits as per itinerary we will then travel the short distance to Brancaleone and spend the night in a hotel. In this case there would be time to have a swim.

 

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours.)

The journey returns to the tarmac and we drive what the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio termed “the most beautiful kilometre in Italy”. This takes us around the marvellously photogenic coastal road as far as Reggio Calabria the celebrated City of the Straits that gazes across wistfully to Sicilian Messina. A visit to the archaeological museum (optional, additional cost 8 Euro) focuses on the two exquisite 5th century Riace Bronzes, unearthed as recently as the 1970s on the Ionian seabed nearby. In the afternoon, your route retraces its steps along the idyllic Tyrrhenian seaboard and through the rolling verdant hills. We then transfer you to Reggio Calabria airport for your onward flight at the end of this amazing Calabria trek holiday. (B)

Dates & Price.

This tour operates on a private basis. Price starts from £1795 per person based on 2 people travelling sharing a room.

Tour Notes

Tailormade Tour

The Calabria Trek is a private and tailormade tour and therefore does not have a minimum or maximum group size.

Single Supplement for the Calabria trek is from £175.

Return flights from London to Reggio Calabria start at £150. Contact us for a quotation.

We know that for many of our destinations flying cannot be avoided. But we also 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 trek holiday. In addition to train tickets, we can arrange stopovers along the way, including hotels and guided tours.

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

Mapped itinerary.

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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
  • Minibus Transport on start and end days of tour
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English-speaking local guide
  • National Park Guide
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner), starting at D on Day 1 and ending with B on Day 8
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)