With some of the country's better beaches and a brooding, mountainous interior, the "toe" of the Italian boot represents for many travellers little more than a train ride down the Tyrrhenian coast on the way to or from Sicilia. The beaches are among the cleanest in Italy and lovers of ancient history can explore the sparse reminders of the civilisation of Magna Graecia. Along the roads heading inland you'll encounter some magnificent natural beauty and, every now and then, picturesque and long ignored medieval villages huddled on hilltops.
Sparsely inhabited in Paleolithic times, the area was first settled by Greeks from Sicilia who founded a colony at what is now modern Reggio di Calabria. Siding with Hannibal against, Roma turned out to be a mistake, the city of Magna Graecia came under Roma's permanent control. Later, as Roma faded away, the Byzantines took superficial control. Their ineffectual rule and the appearance of Arab raiders (the so-called Saracens) off the cost, favoured a decline in the area which was never really arrested; Calabria continued to be a backwater for a succession of Norman, Swabian, Aragonese, Spanish and Bourbon rulers based in Napoli. Although the brief Napoleonic incursion at the end of the 18th century and the arrival of Garibaldi and Italian unification inspired hope for change, Calabria remained chained to a virtually feudal treadmill.
The many tourist villages along the coast can offer excellent package deals and should not be rejected out of hand. There are plenty of camping grounds along the coast, but with the exception of some of the more popular coastaltowns, budget accommodation is thin on the ground, and much of it closes from October to April. The food is simple, peasant fare and relies heavily on what is produced in the region. It would not be unusual to eat in a restaurant where the owners themselves have produced the salami, cheese and vegetables and the grapes for the wine.
Surface (Kmq): 15080
City: Catanzaro (CZ); Cosenza (CS);
Crotone (KR); Reggio Calabria (RC), Vibo Valentia (VV).