Provinces: Catanzaro, Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio di Calabria, Vibo Valentia
The region ranks 10th in both size (15,081 sq kilometers) and population (2,008,000).
Calabria, which forms the toe of the Italian boot, is a predominately mountainous region with marked variations in micro-climates between the sunny coastal hills along the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas, and the chilly heights of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs.
It was a splendid wine region under the Ancient Greeks, and a series of rich settlements ranged along its coast played a fundamental part in the Magna Graecia civilization. After siding with Rome’s enemies in the Punic wars, Calabria was subdued by the Romans and then suffered a procession of invasions. After a period of stability under the Bourbons, the Calabresi campaigned for national unification, fueled by the ideas of Mazzini and the Carboneria (a secret political society).
Two grape varieties of Greek origin dominate – Gaglioppo in red wines, Greco in whites. Calabria’s best known wine is Ciro, which grows in low hills along the Ionian coast between the ancient Greek cities of Sybaris and Kroton (Sibari and Crotone today) Local legend has it that Ciro descended directly from Krimisa, the wine Calabrian athletes drank to celebrate victory in an early Olympiad. The reserve version has the capacity to age beyond a decade from certain vintages
There is also a Rosato to drink young and a Bianco from Greco grapes that can show impressive youthful freshness.”
Red wines from the Gaglioppo are grown at higher altitudes, and are lighter in body and color, sometimes with fresh scents and flavors reminiscent of Alpine reds. The dark Greco Nero variety is also used in certain reds of Calabria.
Orange and lemon groves flourish along with olive groves and a profusion of vegetables, especially eggplant, which are cooked in a variety of ways.
Chicken, rabbit, and guinea fowl are often on the menu. Pizzas feature largely, often with a fish topping. Mushrooms grown well in the Calabrian climate and feature in many dishes from sauces and stews to salads. Pasta comes with a great variety of sauces, including baby artichokes, eggs, meat, cheese, mixed vegetables, sweet bell peppers and garlic. The fish is excellent too and here fresh tuna fish and swordfish are available with many other varieties. Like most southern Italians, the Calabrese are sweet-toothed and many desserts and cakes are flavored with aniseed, honey and almonds and feature the plentiful figs of the region
Common Dishes Include:
Cinghiale Allo Spiedo (Spit-Roasted Boar)
Until a few years ago, wild boar were protected in Italy because they were becoming rare. Now, they are multiplying rapidly, and often pose a threat to crops – particularly vines and young woodland shoots – and so it is permissible to hunt them in season.
Pizza Di Salsiccia (Italian Sausage Pizza)
Like most of the sausages of southern Italy, those of Calabria are spice hot. This pizza, which is very rich and filling, is planned as a main course rather than a first course.
Patate Alla Salsiccia (Potatoes with Spicy Italian Sausage)
Calabria is a barren region where vegetables are scarce; the people eat mostly dried legumes such as beans and chickpeas. Legumes and potatoes are often combined with sausages, which in this area are highly spiced.
- Bagnara: Swordfish Festival (July).
- Caccuri: Easter Procession (Good Friday).
- Calanna: Festival of Madonna del Rosario (first Sunday in October).
- Camigliatello Silano: Wild Mushroom Festival (October).
- Catanzaro: Easter Procession (Good Friday).
- Caulonia Marina: Caracolo Historical Procession (Good Friday).
- Celico: Living Nativity Scene (December).
- Corigliano Calabro: Orange Festival and Procession (January).
St. Francis of Paola Day Festivities (April).
- Cutro: Crucifixion Procession (May).
- Diamante: Hot Pepper Festival (2nd weekend in September).
- Diamante: Saint’s Day Festivities (December).
- Fagnano Castello: Chestnut Festival (last week of October).
- Girifalco: St. Rocco Festivities (August).
- Joppolo: St. Sixtus Festivities (August).
- Laino Borgo: Ancient Easter Procession (Good Friday).
- Laureana di Borrello: Madonna del Carmine Festivities (third Sunday in July).
- Maida: St. Francis of Paola Day Festivities (first Sunday in July).
- Montalto Uffugo: Easter Procession (Good Friday).
- Lido di Palmi: Maritime Procession of the Madonna (August).
- Praia a Mare: Festival of Madonna della Grotta (August).
- San Basile: Albanian Folklore Festival (Tuesday after Pentecost).
- San Giovanni in Fiore: Easter Procession (Good Friday).
- Capo Vaticano (from Santa Maria to Santa Domenica): Procession of Boats and Swimmers (August).
- Seminara: Parade of the Faithful and the Tambourine Players (August).
- Soverato Superiore: Eggplant Festival (September).
- Spilinga: Sausage Festival (August).
- Torre di Ruggiero: Festival of Madonna delle Grazie (September).
- Vibo Valentia (church of the Modonella): Pasta Festival (July).