The most romantic places in Calabria
Calabria is a land famous mostly for the sea, but full of hidden spots with outstanding scenery and legends about love and jealousy. Le Vie della Perla Tour Operator guides us through the most romantic places to discover
Calabria has a green heart, which is reflected in the blue sea water surrounding it. From the top of its mountains, in the hinterland, you can glimpse outstanding panoramas extending as far as the Mediterranean Coastline – a unique sight that you can find only in this region of Italy, thanks to its long and thin shape. And at the narrowest point, in Tiriolo, known as the village between two seas, you can see both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.
There are several places in Calabria that can touch your heart and turn what might have started as a normal day into a romantic opportunity for spending time with your partner. So, here are my recommendations for the most romantic places in Calabria using their breathtaking views or the legends linked to them as parameters.
What could be more romantic than enjoying the warm colors of a sunset seen from the top of Mount Cocuzzo, on the Paola Coastal Chain overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea? You walk along a path through a dense pine forest, then continue to one of beech until reaching the eastern side of Mount Cocuzzo, an area called “Small Dolomites.” Here the vista opens out to display an entire stretch of the magnificent Paola Coastline, the Policastro Gulf and, if the sky is clear enough, the Aeolian Island and even Mount Etna.
And what could be sweeter than kisses? After walking among the alleys of the Pizzo Calabro historic center, stop at the staircase in a side street of Via San Francesco called Vicolo dei Baci (Alley of Kisses) to seal your love. On the walls are pictures of some of the most famous kisses in movies, literature, and songs. Then, enjoy a delicious tartufo, a typical handmade chocolate ice cream in the main square, Piazza della Repubblica – the best way to finish a lovely day enjoying a romantic sunset behind Gioacchino Murat’s Castle.
Lo Scoglio della Regina (The Queen’s Rock) in Acquappesa is considered a good omen. According to legend, Queen Isabella of France, wife of King Edward II of England, saved herself by clinging to it during a storm. She wanted a son so much that she became pregnant after taking a bath in the warm sulfurous waters of the Luigiane Thermal Baths, in Acquappesa municipality.
If you love the world of fairy-tales, a visit to the Park of Lavender, between Campotenese and Morano Calabro, in Pollino National Park, is a must. Inside the garden, delight in the smell and colors of medicinal herbs, especially the lavender, which blankets the entire park in violet. The best time to visit is in the afternoon, when the sunlight is warmer and the atmosphere becomes more magical. To finish the day, take a commemorative photo beneath the Tree of Love.
If you want to promise endless love, the best place is Lovers’ Cave, on the highest part of the small Greek village of Bova, on the southern border of region: it is said that the panorama is so extraordinary that you’ll never forget your promise, because it is inextricably linked with the memorable scenery. In fact, from there you can enjoy a breathtaking view overlooking the Aspromonte Mountains, the Fiumara dell’Amendolea (a river), the union of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, and the eastern coast of Sicily, where Mount Etna rises. A romantic walk in the alleys which wind among palaces and stone houses – well restored or still in restoration following the local style in this hamlet – evokes times long past.
For a romantic weekend break, I suggest staying in a bed and breakfast in Chianalea, a fishing district in Scilla: here the houses are separated by small alleys and built directly on the rocks and in the sea water. In the evening, have dinner in a typical restaurant situated over the sea and surrounded by an enchanting atmosphere. Scilla, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, is famous for the legend about Scylla (meaning “who tears apart”) and Charybdis (meaning “who sucks in”). According to Homer’s writing, in a display of jealousy, the witch Circe turned the beautiful nymph Scylla into a horrible monster who destroyed those who crossed the strait between Calabria and Sicily. Scilla is situated on a cliff, and the ships which passed during the storms through the strait were torn apart as they crashed against the rocks. According to Greek mythology, on the opposite shore of Sicily, the nymph Charybdis transformed into a sea monster who sucked up and expelled sea water, creating huge whirlpools. In fact, the main characteristic of this strait is the unpredictable strong currents.
In order to bless your love, head to the Convent of the Capuchins dedicated to St. Daniel, not very far from the historic center of Belvedere Marittimo overlooking the Cedars Riviera. The convent contains some of the remains of St. Valentine, the patron saint of lovers. There are several stories linking St. Valentine to love. One of these is that he gave a dowry to a poor girl so that she could get married, thereby saving her from perdition – at one time, unmarried women were considered sinners. Another tells of a meeting between St. Valentine and two lovers who were arguing: to make peace between them, he gave them a rose recommending that they pay attention to the thorns and pray for eternal love. Then, my favorite part of the story: as soon as the lovers made peace and hugged each other, pairs of pigeons started to fly away. For this reason, we use piccioncini (literally small pigeons; lovebirds in English) to refer to couples.
Not very far from Belvedere Marittimo, take a cruise from San Nicola Arcella along Cedars Riviera, around Dino Island and in front of the outstanding Arco Magno, a natural arch carved by the sea.
Many other places deserve to be named, but the list is very long. Now you know: Calabria has so much love to give you.
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Cover image: Mount Cocuzzo panorama