My Bella Vita in Calabria

Our latest travel knowledgeable to guide us through the streets of their home for our series of Questionnaires for Experts, Bloggers and other Travel Knowledgeables, has cheated a very small amount – but to our benefit – and is taking us round her adopted home instead: Calabria, in southern Italy.  Cherrye Moore has adopted Calabria as her home and lives and works there, sharing her experiences over at her blog, My Bella Vita.

Not that we're not interested in learning more about Texas, where Cherrye was born, but we're grateful for this insight into a slightly more exotic destination...

Where's your home town, and what's the main reason people visit?

My newly adopted hometown is Catanzaro, the capital seat of Calabria, otherwise known as the "toe of the boot", in southern Italy. Foreign tourists who visit Catanzaro are typically of Italian descent and are traveling to Catanzaro to trace their family's heritage.    

What's the main reason you think people SHOULD be visiting?

Researching one's roots is always a good reason to visit a new place, but non-Italian tourists should also be visiting Catanzaro because of its central location in Calabria. I often tout Catanzaro as the best "base" for a Calabria vacation and no, it isn't just because I have a bed and breakfast here. We are an easy 30-90 minute day trip from most of Calabria's main attractions, making it ideal for people who want to experience the best of the region.    

If you had to recommend to the friend of a friend one unmissable thing to do in your home town what would it be?

Depending on the season, I'd either recommend Scolacium, a combination of Greek and Roman ruins set inside an olive plantation and highlighted by a 12th Century brick red Byzantine basilica or one of the half dozen beaches that range from fine, white sand with azure waters to tan pebbled beaches with aqua seas.    

If they had a whole day in town what would you recommend they do?

Travelers can easily spend a day visiting both Scolacium and the beaches near Catanzaro. If they had extra time, I'd also recommend they stroll through the historical center and if they are adventurous eaters, try the local Morzello, a fiery tripe dish served in pitta bread and accompanied by a glass of homemade wine.    

What if they had three days?

I'd recommend one full day in Catanzaro to see the ruins and the beaches, then suggest they have pizza or panini near the beach and finish their evening with a gelato "night cap" and passeggiata. On the second day they should go into in La Sila, one of Calabria's three national mountain parks and enjoy a traditional Calabrese lunch-like the locals do-in the mountains. For the third day, they should visit Le Castella, an ancient Argonese castle that is linked to the mythical home of Calypso in Homer's The Odyssey and have a seafood lunch overlooking the castle.    

What will you never catch a local doing?

Drinking a cappuccino after 11:00 AM or eating dinner before 8:30 PM.    

What WILL you catch a local doing?

Joining their families and friends for an evening passeggiata, or stroll, either through town or along the Catanzaro Lido lungomare.    

And what local delicacies would visitors be fools not to try while they're there?

Calabrian red peppers, Calabrian 'nduja, a spicy spreadable sausage and Caciocavallo Silano, a type of provola cheese from La Sila.    

In 140 characters, how would you sum up your home town as a great destination?

Catanzaro, like most of Calabria is still unknown to non-Italian tourists and is the perfect place to visit if you want a glimpse into Old Italy.

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