We say goodbye to Sicily as a short ferry ride (about 2 miles) crosses the Strait of Messina and takes us to the toe of Italy and an area known as Calabria. We travel through small towns along the picturesque coast and follow the winding roads through the mountainous interior. Not as popular as the Amalfi Coast to the north, Calabria is laid back, quiet and peaceful.
First stop is in Reggio di Calabria where we are treated by Angelo to a very refreshing bergamot orange gelato. He knows us well.
After the gelato, we go to the Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria. It is famous for its Bronzi di Riace, two tall bronze statues from around 450 BCE. Preservation is taken very seriously, as we had to stand in a decontamination chamber for several minutes before we were admitted to the room housing them.
The Bronzes are exquisite, one with ivory eyes and silver teeth, and a very, well, masculine form. It is unknown whether they represent gods or humans, but they definitely have a presence about them.
Another important figure is Filosofo di Porticello, the head of the philosopher, dating back to the 5th-4th BCE.
Next, we drive along the coast to the fishing village of Scilla (shee la, think the Odyssey) and have lunch across the street from the beach. The beach was very inviting with crystal clear turquoise water.
After lunch we walked along the beach, through the covered roadway, and followed the shore through town. A very pleasant afternoon before we headed to Monterosso and our agriturismo.
The water was so clear it looks like the boats were hovering or were photoshopped in place.
Pizzo Calabro is another seaside town and the birthplace of Tartufo, hazelnut ice cream filled with molten chocolate. To get there, we had to walk down a shopping street! Tartufo and shopping...what else can I say. Beautiful view
View from my room at Agriturismo Sant'Elia. Entryway, pool, and family crest.
Serra San Bruno is an 11th c town where we visited the Carthusian Monastery and learned about traditional charcoal making.
Finally chose this one
Legend has it that in the late 1600's a sailboat was caught in a terrible storm. The sailors prayed to a picture of Madonna and were saved. The picture was found on the beach and buried in a cave. By the late 1800's a different cave chapel to Madonna was built with the interior rock sculpted into statues. Although it was vandalized in the 60's it has been partially restored and other rock sculptures added, including medallions of Pope John and JFK.
Civita is a hillside community founded by Albanian refugees fleeing the Ottoman invasion of the 15 century. Known as the arbëreshë, these Italo-Albanians have a unique language and cultural identity, of which they are very proud. There are a number of arbëreshë communities throughout Italy.
After a stop at a market for lunch supplies, our 4x4 took us to the Santa Maria delle Armi, a sanctuary built into a mountainside. We took a short hike in the area of Monte Pollino (second highest peak of the southern Apennines), and stopped at a bird sanctuary and viewed various birds of prey, including hawks, owls, and an eagle. Later, some of us walked hiked down to the Devil's Bridge.
Quite a busy day, but we had a great evening eating, drinking, singing, and dancing in a small restaurant with local arbëreshë entertainment, although with all the fun we were having and locals stopping by, I think we may have been the entertainment!
The views around Civita were breathtaking !
Santa Marie delle Armi Sanctuary
Time to kick back and relax, ah, what a wonderful day!
Oh no, it's our last day and night in Italy! We will end our journey in Vietri Sul Mare (Vietri on the Sea). First, there's a stop at a buffalo farm where they produce bufala di mozzarella and bufala gelato! A sampler of mozzarella and ricotta was very much appreciated. YUM
Nearby Paestum, an ancient Greek settlement, has a fantastic museum (National Archaeological Museum) and 3 magnificent, well preserved doric temples dating back to between 550 and 450 BCE. There just wasn't enough time to really explore both!
There is a wonderful website about both the museum and temples at - Paestum
Vietri sul Mare is a seaside village, and the beginning of the Amalfi Coast, known for it's colorful ceramics. Oh, for more bubble wrap! The hotel was on the ocean and you could hear waves breaking throughout the night. My room, unfortunately, opened on the dock area and I heard trucks most of the night, but I could hear the waves in the background in the early hours of the morning (I had to get up at 3 am to catch my flight).