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Calabria is a beautiful region with a rich history, traditions and beautiful landscapes: sandy beaches on the coast and a rugged, mountainous interior. Scattered here and there are palaces, castles, churches and monasteries. It is called the best kept secret of Italy. Calabria has already been discovered by the Italians as a holiday destination, but is yet to draw hordes of foreign tourists in. If the signs do not deceive that might be different in a few years. So the time to visit this region is now.
An exception is the seaside resort of Tropea, which has been discovered a long time ago. Not only by the Italians, but the Germans and the French too. Not surprising, because near Tropea you can find no less than 35 kilometers of pristine white sandy beaches, from Pizzo to Capo Vaticano. The coastal road connecting these two places is breathtaking, by the way. Tropea is a center of pottery too. The pots are often colorfully painted. Pizzo is also developing into a seaside resort more and more, but has kept its authentic charm. The local specialty is tartufo. No, it has nothing to do with truffles, it's a delicious icecream with chocolate.
So now we've come to the delight of Calabria: the cuisine of this region is quite different from the well-known Italian cuisine. Of course, pasta is made here too, but there are obvious influences from different cultures, in particular the Greek. Furthermore, the food in Calabria is often tangy through the use of hot peppers, the peperoncino. Those hot peppers are so popular that the village of Diamante has devoted a festival to them. The Festival del Peperoncino takes place every year in the first week of September. There are dozens of dishes with cayenne pepper to taste, from pasta to... icecream! Olive oil too can have a little kick to it in Calabria, so cayenne pepper is often added to this as well.
The culinary traditions are best kept alive in the mountain villages. For example, try the mushrooms from the Parco NazionalePollino. This park is located 130 kilometers north of Lamezia Terme and is the largest protected nature area of Italy. You can go rafting or canoeing on one of the rivers. Located northeast of Lamezia Terme is the Parco Nazionale della Silla, which consists of mountains with century-old pinetrees, rivers and four large reservoirs. Deers and wolves live here and you can spot rare birds of prey. There are facilities for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canyoning and canoeing. Situated southernmost is the Parco Nazionale Aspromonte (in the tip of the boot) with as its highest peak in the Monalto (1955 m). Against the mountain slopes in this area lie characteristic and picturesque villages.
Lamezia doesn't have the addition 'Terme' for nothing. This part of Italy has a lot of hot water springs and thermal baths. Undisputed toppers are the thermal baths of Luigiane, just south of Pollino National Park. The healing power of the water here was already known in Ancient times and was described as early as in the first century by a certain Plinius the Elder. The sulphurous water has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions.
You can encounter remains of Greek times anywhere in Calabria, but on of the best preserved Greek settlements is Monasterakion (small monastery) at the current Monasterace. Here, you can see, amongst other things, the remains of a Hellenistic temple and some Greek houses.
With a rental car you can drive from Lamezia Terme to other places in Calabria in no time. The city is located on the coastal highway A3 from Salerno to Reggio di Calabria. You can reach Catanzaro, on the Ionian sea via the SS288. Parking shouldn't be a problem anywhere, but always leave your car in a guarded parking lot and do not leave valuables in the car!
The airport of Lamezia Terme Airport is easily accessible from the tourist resorts in Calabria. From Reggio Calabria and Cosenza using the highway (autostrada) A3 (towards Salerno), exit Lamezia. From Catanzaro and Crotone follow the SS280 towards Lamezia Terme. Also from Vibo Valentia follow the direction of Lamezia Terme, but via the SS19.