The Five Things We Love About Calabria and the Italian Life

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The beaches in Scilla, with its castle overlooking the Sicilian coast, photo by Pietro Morello

By now you know of our connection to Calabria and our familiar, immigrant, story. You know, for example, that our parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970’s from a tiny hilltop village in southwest Calabria called Pellegrina and that we’ve been influenced greatly by the traditions found in the region (located in southern Italy).  However, we’ve never told our loyal Scordo.com audience what, specifically, we love about Calabria.  In turn, here are five things we love about Calabria and the Italian life (and yes there are negative aspects about the Province but we’ll save those observations for another post):

  1. Weather:  Calabria is famous for it’s scorching heat, so much so that the sun produces another famous Calabrian phenomenon, viz., the afternoon nap. Calabria has wonderful summer time weather from May – September and relatively mild fall and winter months (snow is rare).  The nights are often cool (especially in the mountains) and the skys are a deep blue (I think the Italian national soccer team was named for the Calabrian sky; i.e., the Azzurri).
  2. Food: Much of of the region is still rural which means there are plenty of farms producing everything from Pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese to vegetables and fruits (so much that’s it’s often littered throughout the country side) to every known salumi on the planet.  Calabria is a true food lover’s paradise and not for the restaurant scene but rather for the raw ingredients that produce a world class cuisine found only in the homes of the locals.
  3. Water: Calabria is surrounded by three unique bodies of water: the Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas (a recent comment on this post reads: “the Tyrrhenian and  Ionian Seas are subdivisions of the Mediterranean Sea.  It therefore has two coastlines”).  Not only does the water offer an abundance of seafood including sardines, swordfish, and tuna but it’s the backdrop for some of the best beaches in the world.  You can lose yourself in the countless seaside towns tanning, eating, sleeping, drinking, dancing, and leading a truly wonderful existence (as long as you don’t have any bills to pay!).
  4. Micro-climate / culture: You can travel from the the Aspromonte mountains to the seaside town of Bagnara Calabra in 20-30 minutes and not only does the climate and physical environment change but so does the food, culture, and language.  This is what makes most of Italy so special and something that needs to be protected from outside influence (especially mass consumerism) and it’s exactly what we need, paradoxically, in the United States.
  5. Earthiness and Rawness: I wish I could find a better way to describe the people and “feel” of Calabria but there’s a certain essence of life and living in the southernmost province of Calabria that is difficult to document.  Once you step foot on the ancient soil you immediately begin to feel alive and full of vigor and it’s all a byproduct of the items mentioned above.  Travel to the region and find out for yourself what it means to live like a Calabrese, just make sure to leave your culture at home and embrace the one you’ve encountered.
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14 Comments

  1. Where is the beach in the photo????

  2. Beautiful picture! where exactly is this ?

  3. I’m so sorry that I never made it down to Calabria during my years in Italy. (Never made it south of Naples, in fact…) But we did have a neighbor from Calabria who would bring back to Rome some local foods whenever he came back from visiting his relatives. I particularly remember a wonderful spicy sausage called ‘nduja. I’m sure you’ve had it. Never have found it Stateside, sadly…. 🙁

  4. My husband’s hometown was a hilltop one in Reggio Calabria, facing the Ionian Sea. When we visited Calabria we stayed in Siderno which was right on the Ionian. There were beautiful beaches there!

  5. My family is from the Veneto region (specifically, Verona), and I can relate to much of what you said. This past summer, for the first time, we visited southern Italy and let’s just say the entire country is fantastic.

  6. I really enjoyed a visit I made to Calabria about ten years ago, and it would be nice to have the chance to see it again someday. It is not as frequently visited as some other parts of Europe, and I think that is part of what makes it a special place to visit.

  7. hello! My name is Claudia, I was born and raised in Calabria. I am passionate about cooking, I am a foodblogger, and my family had a restaurant in Reggio Calabria. I am following with great pleasure your blog, it is wonderful to find someone who loves my country, and read your posts often make me feel closer to home. Congratulations from the heart! Small note: the photo is not Bagnara, but the beautiful beach of Scilla, with its castle overlooking the Sicilian coast 😀

  8. 2010 Sangaspano Extra Virgin Olive Oil

     (photo: Sangaspano extra virgin olive oil from Messina, Sicilia)On the morning of December 28th, 1908 a massive earthquake and associated tsunami hit the western province of Calabria and moved across the Stretto di Messina into Sicilia destr…

  9. The Wheat Harvest and Memory: Returning to Calabria

    (photo: the “wheat harvest”; taken in Calabria and including Latella and Scordo family members)The above photo is a favorite from my mother’s collection.  The photo was taken on the Latella family wheat field in southwestern Calabria (just outsid…

  10. Returning From Calabria: Italian Living as Art

    (photo: an ancient olive tree on the family olive orchard)Driving on the A3 autostrada from the Reggio Calabria airport to the village of Pellegrina (a tiny Comune di Bagnara Calabria) my mood changes instantly.  I’m greeted by a penetrating sun,…

  11. My Dad came from Reggio di Calabria, Cinquefrondi to be exact.  He took me and other family members back for a visit in 2001 and I immediately felt at home.  The area looked like places I’d lived and loved in California, and suddenly I knew why seeing Calabria.  It was absolutely wonderful, and unexpectedly so, to be in a country where so many people looked like me after living in areas in the US where almost no one did.  We took a small train on our way down from Rome and at one point it stopped for probably 20-30 minutes right next to an orange orchard in bloom.  The scent was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  Our relatives were wonderful, the tiny village welcoming and curious.  I can’t wait to return for a longer time.  I still remember the fantastic food and wine.

  12. Your post inspires so many comments for me as I spent 4 years in Calabria and I visit often. I would like to point out a connection between the unique micro-climate that you’ve noted and the incredible food that everyone loves. These special characteristics have combined to produce the bergamot, the unique citrus fruit that only truly flourishes in a 100-mile stretch of coastline in the Province of Reggio Calabria. I include this and many other of the region’s outstanding characteristics in my recently published book CALABRIA: THE OTHER ITALY.

  13. Buongiorno !

    I love this site and all the commenters~
    Thank you so much Grazie infinite

    I am coming in two weeks to Capo di Vaticano !!!
    I am freaking out with anticipation ah ah

    I am hoping someone can tell me what town and beach this is in my attached photo ?!
    I must be there. Must. Ahah

    Grazie

    CaliforniaSorriso,
    David

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