You denitely can see more than just beaches, sun and sea when spending a holiday in Calabria. I am glad to give you useful hints for excursions during your stay. When I decided to emigrate to the South of Italy there were, of course, quite a lot of friends who doubted my choice because of the image we have of the southerners: Dicult and irascible mentality, the Maa, the all-important Italian “Mamma”, unemployment, poverty and an undeveloped region, etc. My personal view now consists of a dierent and more nuanced picture of Southern Italians. And I think that even on a holiday it is possible to get a true impression of the people who live in this region.
The Calabrians are notorious for their hospitality, especially towards strangers. At the same time they are very reserved, proud and relaxed in an exaggerated way that can almost be interpreted as disinterest. I am always astonished at the fact that in a region that lives almost exclusively from tourism even in the peak season it is still possible to meet nice and friendly waiters, patient shop owners and locals. Of course you might come across some, unpleasant examples but they are the exception. Their taciturnity is manifested in the Calabrian dialect that even for hardworking students of the Italian language is impossible to understand. It sounds almost “Arabic”. But if one makes an eort to speak some Italian it is always warmly welcomed and immediately brings you closer to the locals.
I have been living in this area for six years now and even today I wonder where their reticence and pride come from and where they have their origin. The answer is not simple. One of my personal theories is that a reason might be the long history of occupiers who repeatedly crossed the region on the toe, and subjugated the natives. Somehow this is repeated today when each year in August up to 10,000 tourists mainly from Naples, Rome, Milan and Turin swamp Tropea. Every August I have the impression that we are living a modern form of occupation. But the region denitely needs this form of tourism to make enough money to live during the winter months. To “survive” this completely stressful and chaotic month you need strong nerves and an attitude, which a friend of mine described as “improvised, laid back and calm.”
The Calabrians are aware of the beauty of their region and its wealth such as the food, the wine, the sparkling clear sea and the gorgeous beaches. Unfortunately they sometimes do not feel responsible or do not know how to protect this “gift”. This is why coming from Northern Europe one is shocked sometimes about illegal dumps in the midst of beautiful scenery or about magnicent old buildings that have been waiting for their restoration for decades. Also there are many modern buildings that have never been nished, telling us about corruption and fraud. If you allow yourself to overlook these blemishes and do not take them to heart you will enjoy a fantastic holiday in a particular beautiful region with many dierent facets. I hope you fall in love as much as I did when I rst came to Calabria and I would love to hear about your impressions.
Ci vediamo in Calabria! See you in Calabria!