Cycling holidays in Calabria
Cycling in Calabria is an unforgettable experience. For centuries a crossroads of cultures and civilisations, this region is rich in natural, historic and artistic treasures. Here you can cycle for kilometres and kilometres along remote secondary roads, through boundless forests and orchards as…
Cycling in Calabria is an unforgettable experience. For centuries a crossroads of cultures and civilisations, this region is rich in natural, historic and artistic treasures. Here you can cycle for kilometres and kilometres along remote secondary roads, through boundless forests and orchards as far as the eye can see, until you reach the small villages perched on the rugged headlands of the Calabrian Apennines: places where time seems to stand still.
Pedalling on the roads of Calabria, you can immerse yourself in the unspoiled nature of this region — a unique meeting of land and water — and venture out to conquer its mountains, breathing in the sea breeze and the typical scents of the Mediterranean maquis. In addition to countless protected areas, this region boasts no less than three national parks, covering some 240,000 hectares: the Pollino National Park, the Aspromonte National Park and the Sila National Park.
The first, straddling Calabria and Basilicata, is the largest protected area in Italy — a true kaleidoscope of extraordinary landscapes. It includes the Pollino massif, home to the highest peaks of the entire Southern Apennines (if you love climbing, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here).
The Aspromonte National Park is characterised by centuries-old forests, extremely evocative gorges, and peaks over 2,000 metres above sea level, close to the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas.
The Sila National Park is the oldest national park in Calabria and the fifth-oldest in Italy. Exploring it by bicycle means immersing oneself in a unique oasis of biodiversity. Here, the small, characterful villages scattered along the park’s territory offer ample opportunity to enjoy the exquisite hospitality of the locals and the region’s excellent food and wine.
If you love riding between the sea and the mountains, in wild places far from the chaos of mass tourism, a cycling adventure in Calabria is for you. Among the itineraries not to be missed, the Ciclovia dei Parchi is certainly worth mentioning. This is a recently created cycling route that winds through the region’s three national parks, as well as the Serre Regional Park. The route, with a total length of 540 kilometres and an elevation difference of about 10,000 metres, runs along secondary roads where traffic is almost non-existent, staying mainly at high altitudes (often over 1,000 metres). Here, spectacular views of the entire Calabrian Apennines and glimpses of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas await you: a great way to explore some of the most beautiful places in this region with a single, unforgettable trip.
When talking about Calabrian food, it is impossible not to mention ‘nduja, a symbol of this region. It is a very special, soft and spicy sausage that is prepared with lard, bacon, cheek and parts of the pig’s leg and head. As is usual in Calabrian cuisine, a generous amount of chilli pepper is added to the mixture.
It is usually spread on pitta, a typical bread, or on pizza, and accompanied by cheeses such as Caciocavallo Silano. It can also be used to flavour sauces.
This tasty semi-hard pasta filata cheese is recognisable by its classic oval shape, and is one of the most typical and ancient cheeses of southern Italy. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, spoke of it as far back as 500 BC, praising the dairy craft of the Greeks.
Caciocavallo is widespread and produced in several regions of southern Italy, but Caciocavallo Silano can boast a protected designation of origin — PDO — that limits its production area to the mountain localities of the Sila Plateau: Camigliatello Silano, Castelsilano, Longobucco, Pedace and San Giovanni in Fiore, all located at an altitude between 900 and 1,400 metres above sea level.
This typical dish from Reggio Calabria is prepared with offal: bones with leftover meat, skin, innards and various less noble parts of the pig. Despite what the name suggests, frying has nothing to do with it. Frittole are in fact boiled for several hours inside a caddàra — a large tin-plated copper pot lined with pork rind — through a special process requiring a certain skill: a true tradition handed down from generation to generation.
This is a dish of genuine history with strong flavours. It’s certainly not very photogenic and not suitable for all stomachs, but nevertheless it encapsulates a cultural heritage of great importance.
In Reggio Calabria, frittole are traditionally eaten on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Consolation, the city’s patron saint.
History & Culture
Calabria is a land of strong contrasts, once the beating heart of glorious Magna Graecia, which saw a great variety of people land on its shores and settle in its mountains, giving rise to a unique mixture of cultures. Proof of this are the numerous historic and artistic testimonies scattered throughout the region, from the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea.
Here, there are not only the vestiges of the centuries of splendour and the Magna Grecia era, but also the traces of many other civilisations that have ploughed these lands: from the Roman to the Byzantine, to the Norman, Angevin and Aragonese ages.
Among archaeological sites, ancient villages, churches, monasteries and mediaeval castles set between the sea and the mountains, cycling in Calabria is a panacea for both spirit and body.
Bike hotels in Calabria
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