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Calabria: Italy’s best kept secret

Anyone travelling from the north of Italy to the southern tip of the boot encounters an astonishing range of localities, whose surroundings and way of life differ dramatically. This is largely because Italy’s regions only unified in 1861. 

Italy’s most southerly region, Calabria, may not be a well known as Tuscany or the Amalfi coast, but that fact only adds to its charms.

Calabria’s coastline is a popular draw for Italian holidaymakers, who travel south to enjoy the charming holiday resorts, sun-bathed sandy beaches, rocky coves and spectacular headlands.

The coastline alternates between rugged cliffs and sandy beaches and the sea around Calabria is crystal clear. The poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called the coast facing Sicily near Reggio Calabria “the most beautiful kilometre in Italy”.

While the coastline is Calabria’s main attraction, the three mountain ranges in the region offer outstanding scenery. In fact, this is largely a mountainous region, with many picturesque historic towns lining the hillsides. Notable are Maratea, regarded as one of Italy’s best kept secrets, and Scalea.

Popular tourist attractions are the national parks at Aspromonte and La Sila, which boast outstandingly beautiful lakes.

One of the most popular destinations is Reggio Calabria, on the strait between the mainland and Sicily. It is the largest and oldest city in Calabria, renowned for its panoramic sea views. Botanical gardens stand among art nouveau buildings and the 3,000-year-old Aragonian Castle.

Other beautiful towns in the region include Scilla, known as the Pearl of the Violet Coast; Tropea, a beautiful town with a dramatic seaside beach; Gerace, a stunning medieval city with a Norman castle and an ancient cathedral; the seaside resort of Squillace; Stilo, with its Norman castle and beautiful Byzantine church; Soverato, renowned for its beaches, promenade and nightlife; and Nicotera, a charming little medieval town with the ancient Ruffo’s Castle.

Until recently, Calabria was not considered to be a particularly desirable place to buy property, which has kept prices relatively low compared with Italy’s other beautiful regions such as Umbria and Tuscany.

Away from the coastal areas, apartments and townhouses start from as little as EUR‚¬80,000-100,000, but property prices are creeping up fast due to fresh interest in the region from holiday home buyers.

By the coast, you can currently buy a two-bedroom apartment in a gated community in Vibo Marina, near the beautiful town of Tropea, from EUR‚¬124,000. 

With more and more people discovering the charms of Calabria – experts tip this region as one of the latest hot spots in Italy – property hunters, bargain seekers and estate agents are flocking to the region, so prices expected to rapidly increase.

Picture caption: Scilla – on the strait of Messina, the beach is dominated by the Ruffo Castle.

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