Food

Calabrian Specialities: 'Nduja, Red Onions and Signature Ice Creams

An itinerary along the Tyrrhenian coast of this beautiful Italian region, to appreciate it in all its beauty…and in all its flavours.
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Duration: 3 days

Itinerary: from Lamezia Terme to Reggio Calabria, passing through the most beautiful places along the coast for a total of about 220 kilometres

Equipment: sunglasses, sunscreen and everything you need for a dip in the sea

A trip to Calabria wouldn’t exist without all the gourmet wonders that this magical land has to offer. The specialties are often known for their legendary spiciness, but not only. So, you’ll have to venture into the Italian homeland of chili pepper aboard your Vespa, for an itinerary with a high level of palatable pleasures that will touch some of the most famous resorts of the Tyrrhenian coast. Leave Lamezia Terme and drive along the sea to your very first leg; after about thirty kilometres of a scenic drive, you will arrive in Pizzo.

This town of about 9,000 inhabitants, perched on a promontory in the middle of the Gulf of Sant'Eufemia, will welcome you with a beautiful promenade. Climb up to the higher part of the village and visit the castle of Pizzo, a fortress built in 1492 by Ferdinand I of Aragon, where Napoleonic General Joachim Murat was confined as a prisoner, today converted into a museum. Also pay a visit to the Church of Piedigrotta, near Madonnella, to admire a unique structure of its kind, entirely excavated in the tuff of the surrounding rocks.

When the morning comes to an end, get ready for a lunch that is anything but conventional. Sit down at one of the tables at Ercole ice cream parlour and bar and order the traditional homemade Pizzo Calabro truffle – the most famous specialty of the region made with unique hazelnut ice cream with a melted chocolate heart, covered with a dusting of cocoa. There are several versions of it, but the traditional one is definitely worth trying. And maybe trying all over again.

After this sugar surge, get back on the Vespa and head towards Vibo Valentia, where you will spend your first night. Leave your bag at the Bed&Breakfast di Francia, a historic house which has been converted into a charming hotel, and spend the afternoon visiting the Norman Castle – the structure which hosts the State Archaeological Museum. Preserved inside is the Laminetta Orfica, a thin gold plate which was found on the body of a woman buried presumably at the end of the 5th century, on which a prayer containing the rules of conduct to be followed in the afterlife is inscribed. A small, precious treasure.

For dinner, reach Mesiano di Filandari for a table at the Trattoria Frammichè. The menu includes appetizers of all sorts, with olives, cheese, beans and local cold cuts – which includes, of course, the legendary Calabrian 'nduja. Homemade cuisine, with decidedly generous portions – try the pistachio spaghettoni and pork shank. Once back in Vibo Valentia, take a walk by the beautiful Church of San Michele, it will help you relax and sleep better.

The next morning, have a nice breakfast and head towards Tropea. Before arriving at your destination, stop a few kilometres away, in Parghelia, and go straight to Bar Rinaldo. Here you will enjoy the most famous granita in the region, served with cream and brioche – an ideal snack to be enjoyed under the marquee of the bar. Then back on the saddle towards Tropea, the capital of red onion.

Once you arrive, waste no time and get the beach towel out of the backpack and go lie on the beach for a few hours. Sunbathe, and maybe take a dip in the blue sea. When your stomach starts to grumble, go to one of the many food shops in town and order a sandwich stuffed with local products; you will find the famous red onion, certainly, but also aubergines, pecorino cheese, bell peppers and capocollo. Eat it by the sea, then visit the nearby Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell'Isola, a pretty little church perched on a huge rock.

Just in time for sunset, get back on your Vespa and stop at the Capo Vaticano Lighthouse, 15km from Tropea. From here, you will see how the sky can turn orange, in front of a breathtaking panorama. Proceed and head towards Coccorino. Stay at a mini-apartment at Villa Alba Chiara, and after a dip in the pool and a refreshing shower, make your way to the Da Mercurio restaurant. A table on the terrace overlooking the sea and a rich menu – based on fresh fish, oysters, tuna tartare, spaghetti with mussels and clam linguine – await you for an ideal end to the day.

The following day, leave Villa Alba Chiara early (trying to get Vasco Rossi’s song out of your head) and reach Scilla. A visit to the Ruffo Castle is a must, as well as a walk in the centre of this beautiful town. While there, indulge in a delicious meal at the Glauco restaurant, a magical place where you can get lost among prawns, amberjack steaks and terrific views over the Strait of Messina. Have a coffee and make the last leg of your trip to Reggio Calabria, where in addition to visiting the National Museum of the Magna Graecia, which hosts the famous Riace Bronzes, you will also find Cesare ice cream shop, reported among the best in Italy. A perfect snack to end your tour discovering the tastiest side of Calabria.

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