CALABRIA & BASILICATA: THE ALTERNATIVE ITALY, ​3 - 14 APRIL, 2021

CALABRIA/BASILICATA: THE ALTERNATIVE ITALY,
9-20 APRIL, 2022

with Jeremy Woodhouse

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More than any other Italian regions, Basilicata and Calabria represent the quintessence of the mezzogiorno, the historically underdeveloped southern tracts of the peninsula. After Unification in 1861, the area was largely neglected and sank into abject poverty that was worsened by emigration. Conditions here were immortalized in Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli–a vivid account of his internment during the Fascist era in which he describes a South characterized by apathy, where malaria is endemic and the peasants’ way of life is deeply rooted in superstition. Things have improved, particularly in Basilicata, although tourism is yet to bring the riches found in neighbouring Puglia and Campania.


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Itinerary 

Day 1: Apr 9, 2022 – Arrive at Lamezia Terme International Airport
After meeting up we drive to the town of Pizzo – also called Pizzo Calabro, it is a seaport and comune in the province of Vibo Valentia, in Calabria, situated on a steep cliff overlooking the Gulf of Santa Eufemia. Fishing is one of the main activities, including that of tuna and coral. It has an old castle, built by the Aragonese in the 15th century.

O/N Piccolo Grand Hotel, Pizzo
Situated in the historical centre of Pizzo (Calabria), a lively town in an enchanting location on a cliff by the sea, you will find the small but nice and trendy luxury “Piccolo Grand Hotel”.

Day 2: Apr 10, 2022 – Drive to Tropea
Southwest of Pizzo, Tropea is the prettiest town on the southern Tyrrhenian coast, built right on the edge of steep cliffs, towering high over its beach. It is also (after Maratea in Basilicata) the most fashionable, with a certain seaside charm, though this can wear pretty thin with the summer tourist influx.

There are numerous beaches below the town, all within walking distance, and the old centre has plenty of character – see particularly the lovely Norman cathedral at the bottom of Via Roma, whose interior harbours a couple of unexploded American bombs from the last war (one accompanied by a grateful prayer to the Madonna), a Renaissance ciborium and a statue of the Madonna and Child from the same period.

The views from the upper town over the sea and the church of Santa Maria dell’Isola on its rock (closed for restoration) are superb, and on a clear day you can see the cone of Stromboli, and sometimes other Aeolian islands looming on the horizon.

O/N Hotel Rocca della Senna
The Hotel has a breathtaking views of the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea

Day 3: Apr 11, 2022 – Tropea | Scilla
As we head south along the coast, the proximity of Sicily becomes the dominant feature. This stretch of the autostrada can claim to be one of the most panoramic in Italy, burrowing high up through mountains with the Strait of Messina glittering below. Travelling by train or following the old coastal road, you pass through Scilla, with a fine sandy beach and lots of action in the summer. Known as Scylla in classical times, this was the legendary location of a six-headed cave monster, one of two hazards to mariners mentioned in the Odyssey, the other being the whirlpool Charybdis, corresponding to the modern Cariddi located 6km away on the other side of the strait. Crowning a hefty rock, a castle separates the main beach from the fishing village of Chianalea to the north.

O/N Hotel Le Sirene
The Hotel Le Sirene, founded in 1965, is located on the seafront of mythical Scilla. The hotel offers completely renovated rooms, equipped with all the amenities to ensure maximum comfort. The hotel overlooks the splendid Scilla beach

Day 4: Apr 12, 2022 – Scilla
Using Scilla as our base we will explore the coastline and parts of the interior including the ruggedly beautiful Aspromonte National Park which covers much of the bottom third of Calabria.

O/N Hotel Le Sirene

Day 5: Apr 13, 2022 – Scilla | Gerace
Once we check out we will begin the drive to Gerace, stopping on the way to visit the ghost town of Roghudi Vecchio, once home to one of Italy's last Greek-speaking communities Gerace, on the Ionian Coast, is the probably the best-preserved medieval village. It has Calabria’s largest cathedral and just about everything you’d want in a medieval town: centuries of architectural delights and a strollable main street, lined with cafes and stores selling local products. Don’t miss the view from the Porta del Sole (Gate of the Sun) at the far end of town, a grand archway overlooking the Ionian Sea.

O/N Hotel La Casa di Gianna

Day 6: Apr 14, 2022 – Gerace | Nocera Terinese (Good Friday Eve)
After we leave Gerace we will hug the coastline with great views of the Ionian sea before heading inland to the town of Stilo, famous above all for its little byzantine church “Cattolica”, it preserves one of the most beautiful historic center of the South of Italy and is characterized by breathtaking panoramic view of the Ionian coastline.

We then head back to the west coast to Nocera Terinese, a cluster of houses and churches perched on a hill in the mountains of Calabria. On Good Friday eve the town is immersed in a sacred silence. By noon the next day (Good Friday), the narrow streets of Nocera will be packed with villagers and outsiders. It is here that we will witness an ancient Holy Week tradition that dates back to the thirteenth century. Over the course of a few days, a Middle Ages atmosphere takes over here, with a dark, imposing mixture of religion and pagan traditions permeating the town. Vattenti (beaters) — young and old devotees expressing their faith through self-flagellation — are the cornerstone of this ancient rite, which has been handed down for centuries, drawing flocks of onlookers to this day.

O/N Agriturismo Calabrial Cubo
An agriturismo project that combines agriculture and high cuisine – they produce organic extra virgin olive oil, table olives, vegetables, citrus fruits, hops and avocados, as well as raising beef cattle.

Day 7: Apr 15, 2022 – Nocera Terinese (Good Friday)
Good Friday celebrations in the streets of Nocera.

O/N Agriturismo Calabrial Cubo

Day 8: Apr 16, 2022 – Nocera Terinese/Paola/Maratea
After breakfast we head north up the coast to Maratea stopping off on the way at Paola to visit the Santuario di San Francesco di Paola in a ravine above the town.

Watched over by a crumbling castle, the Santuario di San Francesco di Paola is a curious, empty cave with tremendous significance to the devout. The saint lived and died in Paola in the 15th century and the sanctuary that he and his followers carved out of the bare rock has attracted pilgrims for centuries. The cloister is surrounded by naive wall paintings depicting the saint’s truly incredible miracles. The original church contains an ornate reliquary of the saint.

Then onward to Maratea – a sparkling, sun-drenched contrast to Basilicata's rugged interior, Maratea is a pure delight. In fact a disparate collection of placid coastal villages, rather than a single place, it's the centrepiece of Basilicata's Tyrrhenian coast. Embellished with lush vegetation, riven by rock-walled coves below well-tended hillside villages, Maratea’s joys might be compared to those of the Amalfi. Perhaps the biggest, most welcome disparity is the number of tourists – far fewer here, and notably fewer non-Italians. You can climb the steep hill above Maratea to see the ruins of the prior settlement, take boat cruises and fishing trips, poke around venerable hilltop churches (44 of them), or just kick back with a coffee in a perfectly photogenic piazza, watching the sun play on the waters below.

O/N Hotel Settebello
The Hotel Settebello in Maratea is a modern 3-star hotel on the sea, located on Fiumicello beach

Day 9: Apr 17, 2022 – Maratea
Using Maratea as our base we will visit the Statue of Christ the Redeemer and a couple of small seaside towns – Diamante and Belvedere Marittimo.

O/N Hotel Settebello

Day 10: Apr 18, 2022 – Maratea/San Demetrio Corone/Cosenza
Today will spend our time in the interior, first traveling through the Parco Nazionale di Pollino and then into the Sila massif where we will visit some of the Albanian villages, original settled in the 15th century by colonies of Albanians in flight from Muslim invasions – San Demetrio Corone is one of the most interesting.

San Demetrio Corone 
The village of San Demetrio Corone is characterized by red-roofed houses that blend with the color of the surrounding soil. It is considered the capital of the arberëschë culture and lies on a fertile slope where olive groves, mulberry and chestnut trees grow. The village has a fascinating history and houses one of the most remarkable monuments in Calabria, the Church of Sant'Adriano. Crossed by a thousand of winding rughe (narrow streets) that branch off to amazing sheshiet (clearings), the village houses ancient churches and noble buildings. Local people seem not to care about the passing time, and maintain their traditional arbëreshë culture, that has only been mildly contaminated by the Calabrian one.
We then make our way to Cosenza where we will spend the next 2 nights.

Cosenza
Stacked atop a steep hill, Cosenza's old town epitomises the authentic, unkempt charm of southern Italy. Time-warped and romantically dishevelled, its dark weathered alleys are full of drying clothes on rusty balconies, old curiosity shops and the freshly planted shoots of an arty renaissance. Welcome to a no-nonsense workaday town where tourists are incidental and local life, with all its petty dramas, takes centre stage.

O/N Royal Hotel

Day 11: Apr 19, 2022 – Cosenza
We will use Cosenza as our base to make an excursion into the Sila as well as exploring some of the villages dotted around the surrounding hills – the hilltop village of Rende holds the prize for the “tidiest” village in the region.

Northeast of Cosenza is the village of Luzzi above which stands the Abbazia di Sambucina, a Cistercian abbey founded in the 12th century

O/N Royal Hotel

Day 12: Apr 20, 2022 – Cosenza - Lamezia Terme International Airport

END OF TOUR


Average Weather in Calabria

The average minimum temperature (usually the minimum temperature is noted during the night) in Reggio di Calabria in April is 12.0°C (53.6°F). The amount of rain in April is normal with an average of 60mm (2.4in). This month generally has very pleasant temperatures. The average maximum temperature lies around 18.0°C (64.4°F). With a water temperature of around 16.0°C (60.8°F), this is not the best month to swim. If you enjoy looking at a blue sky and like sunbathing than this month is a great period to visit Reggio di Calabria. It has 207 hours of sun. 

6 SPOTS OPEN

TOUR COST: $TBA
DEPOSIT: $500 
SINGLE: $TBA

Group size 6

Tour Price Includes

  • Transfers at the beginning and the end of the tour (unless you are arriving early or leaving after the official tour is concluded)
  • Ground Transportation with local photographer/guide for 12 days
  • All meals
  • Tour accommodation, as listed
  • National Parks entry fees

Tour Price Excludes

  • Arrival/departure flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcohol
  • Pre- and post-tour accommodation

Paying by check

If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:

Nicole Woodhouse
Pixelchrome, Inc, 
605 Rouen Drive, 
McKinney TX 75072

Paying by Wire Transfer

If you would like to pay by Wire Transfer please contact nicole@pixelchrome.com for bank account details.


Equipment Checklist

  • Bring you own laptop computer and storage media
  • Camera body(s)
  • Lenses, 16-35mm, 24-70mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom or similar lenses are very good
  • Light bag for easy hiking with camera bodies and accessories
  • Cleaning kit for cameras and lenses
  • Rain/dust covers for cameras and lenses
  • Charger for batteries
  • Spare batteries
  • Spare Memory cards
  • Memory card reader
  • USB key to exchange images

Also good to have

  • Tripod
  • Lens extenders
  • Good quality polarizing filter