Day 1 – Reggio Calabria – Pentedattilo
(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)
Day 2 – Pentedattilo (280 m) – Bagaladi (475 m)
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)
Day 3 – Bagaladi (475 m) – Amendolea (150 m)
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)
Day 4 – Amendolea (150 m) – Gallicianò (620 m) – Bova (850 m)
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.
Day 5 – Bova (850 m) – Monte Grosso (1300 m) – Bova (850 m)
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)
Day 6 – Bova (850 m) - Palizzi (270 m)
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)
Day 7 – Palizzi (270 m) – Cerasia mountain (1013 m) – Staiti (530 m)
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.
Day 8 – Staiti – Reggio Calabria
(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)
- 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
- International flights
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Tips (discretionary)