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Regione Calabria
—  Region of Italy  —


Coat of arms
Country Italy
Capital Catanzaro
 - President Agazio Loiero (Democratic Party (Italy))
 - Total 15,081 km2 (5,822.8 sq mi)
Population (2008-10-31)
 - Total 2,009,301
 Density 133.2/km2 (345.1/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
GDP/ Nominal € 32.5 billion (2006)
GDP per capita € 16,244 (2006)

Calabria (pronounced [kaˈlabrja]; in Calabrian dialect: Calabbria or Calavria, Greek: Καλαβρία), in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian peninsula. It is bounded to the north by the region of Basilicata, to the south-west by the region of Sicily, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and to the east by the Ionian Sea. The region covers 15,080 km² and has a population of 2 million. The regional capital is the city of Catanzaro. The other two main cities are Reggio Calabria and Cosenza. The demonym of Calabria in English is Calabrian (Italian: calabrese).



Cliff at Tropea.
View of Scilla

Calabria is at the very south of the Italian peninsula, to which it is connected by the Monte Pollino massif, while on the east, south and west it is surrounded by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. The region is a long and narrow peninsula which stretches from north to south for 248 km, with a maximum width of 110 km. Some 42% of Calabria's area, corresponding to 15,081 km2, is mountainous, 49% is hilly, while plains occupy only 9% of the region's territory. It is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina, where the narrowest point between Capo Peloro in Sicily and Punta Pezzo in Calabria is only 3.2 km.

Although the beautiful green sea is ever present in Calabria, it is mainly a mountainous region. Three mountain ranges are present: Pollino, La Sila and Aspromonte. All three mountain ranges are unique with their own flora and fauna. The Pollino Mountains in the north of the region are rugged and form a natural barrier separating Calabria from the rest of Italy. Parts of the area are heavily wooded, while others are vast, wind-swept plateaus with little vegetation. These mountains are home to a rare Bosnian Pine variety, and are included in the Pollino National Park. La Sila is a vast mountainous plateau, about 1,200 metres above sea level, which stretches for nearly 2,000 square kilometres along the central part of Calabria. The highest point is Botte Donato, which reaches 1,928 metres. The area boasts numerous lakes and dense coniferous forests. The Aspromonte massif forms the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula bordered by the sea on three sides. This unique mountainous structure reaches its highest point at Montalto Uffugo, at 1,995 metres, and is full of wide, man-made terraces that slope down towards the sea.

In general, most of the lower terrain in Calabria has been agricultural for centuries, and exhibits indigenous scrubland as well as introduced plants such as the prickly pear cactus. The lowest slopes are rich in vineyards and citrus fruit orchards. The Diamante citron is one of the citrus fruits. Moving upwards, olives and chestnut trees appear while in the higher regions there are often dense forests of oak, pine, beech and fir trees.

The climate is influenced by the mountainous and hilly relief of the region: cold in the area of Monte Pollino, temperate with a very limited temperature range in the area of Aspromonte, while the Sila and Serre massifs ensure greater humidity on the Tyrrhenian coast and a drier climate on the Ionian coast.

La Sila National Park.


Calabria was first settled by Italic Oscan-speaking tribes. Two of these tribes included the Oenotri (roughly translated into the "vine-cultivators") and the Itali. Greek contact with the latter resulted in the entire peninsula (modern Italy) taking the name of the tribe.

Greeks settled heavily along the coast at an early date and several of their settlements, including the first Italian city called Rhegion (Reggio Calabria), and the next ones Sybaris, Kroton (Crotone), and Locri, were numbered among the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, the region never regained its former prosperity.

The Riace bronzes, Greek bronzes, about 460-430 BC.

The Greeks were conquered by the 3rd century BC by roving Oscan tribes from the north, including a branch of the Samnites called the Lucanians and an offshoot of the Lucanians called the Bruttii. The Bruttii established the main cities of Calabria, including the modern capital, Cosenza (then called Consentia).

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the inhabitants were in large part driven inland by the spread of Malaria. and, from the early Middle Ages until the XVII century, by pirate raids. Calabria was devastated during the Gothic War before it came under the rule of a local dux for the Byzantine Empire. In the 9th and 10th centuries, Calabria, which had been the rich breadbasket of Rome before Egypt was conquered, was the borderland between Byzantine rule and the Arab emirs in Sicily, subject to raids and skirmishes, depopulated and demoralized, with vibrant Greek monasteries providing fortresses of culture. Many of the Greek speaking Calabrians moved to Peloponnese.

In the 1060s the Normans, under the leadership of Robert Guiscard's brother Roger, established a presence in this borderland, and organized a government along Byzantine lines that was run by the local Greek magnates of Calabria. In 1098, Pope Urban II named Roger the equivalence of an apostolic legate later formed what became the Kingdom of Sicily. The administrative divisions created in the late medieval times were maintained right through to unification: Calabria Citeriore (or Latin Calabria) in the northern half and Calabria Ulteriore (or Greek Calabria) in the southern half.

Beginning with the subsequent Angevin rule, which ruled Calabria as part of the Kingdom of Naples, Calabria was ruled from Naples right up until unification with Italy. The kingdom came under many rulers: the Habsburg dynasties of both Spain and Austria; the Franco-Spanish Bourbon dynasty which created the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte, and then French Marshal Joachim Murat, who was executed in the small town of Pizzo. Calabria experienced a series of peasant revolts as part of the European Revolutions of 1848. This set the stage for the eventual unification with the rest of Italy in 1861, when the Kingdom of Naples was brought into the union by Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Aspromonte was the scene of a famous battle of the unification of Italy, in which Garibaldi was wounded.

The 'Ndrangheta organized crime families of Calabria began to appear in 1850.

Until the mid 20th C., Southern Italy was among the poorest regions of Europe and impoverished Calabria was a main source for the Italian diaspora of the early 1900s. Many Calabrians moved to the industrial centres of northern Italy, the rest of Europe, Australia and the Americas (especially Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and the United States). Since the 1970s there has been an increased affluence and a much improved economy based on modern agriculture, tourism, and a growing commercial base. Even though the per capita income is still well below that of northern and central Italy, it has improved to the point where it is approaching the European Union median.[1]


The seaport of Gioia Tauro.

A typical feature of agriculture in Calabria is the high fragmentation of the farm structure. Holdings of less than two hectares made up 69% of the total in 2000. The main cultivation in Calabria is olive tree, representing 29.6% of UAA and 70% of tree crops. In fact the majority of farms (137 938 units on a total of 194 600) produce olives[2].

Within the industrial sector, manufacturing contributes to gross value added by 7.2%. In the manufacturing sector the main branches are foodstuff, beverage and tobacco with a contribution to the sector very close to the national average.[2]

The main Calabrian ports are in Reggio Calabria and in Gioia Tauro. The Reggio di Calabria port is equipped with five loading docks of a length of 1,530 metres. The Gioia Tauro port has seven loading docks with an extension of 4,646 metres; it is the largest in Italy and the seventh largest container port in Europe,[3] with a 2007 throughput of 3.7 million TEU's[4] from more than 3,000 ships.

The region is served by three heavily used roads: two national highways along the coasts and the A3 motorway, which links Salerno and Reggio di Calabria along the old inland route. In Calabria there are two main airports: one is situated in Lamezia Terme and the other in Reggio di Calabria, both very close to the cities.[2]


Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1861 1,155,000
1871 1,219,000 5.5%
1881 1,282,000 5.2%
1901 1,439,000 12.2%
1911 1,526,000 6.0%
1921 1,627,000 6.6%
1931 1,723,000 5.9%
1936 1,772,000 2.8%
1951 2,044,000 15.3%
1961 2,045,000 0.0%
1971 1,988,000 −2.8%
1981 2,061,000 3.7%
1991 2,070,000 0.4%
2001 2,011,000 −2.9%
2008 (Est.) 2,009,000 −0.1%
Source: ISTAT 2001

The population density in Calabria in 2008 was of 133.2 inhabitants per km2, lower than the national average of 198.8. The population density in the provinces ranges from 101 inhabitants per km2 in the province of Crotone to 178 inhabitants per km2 in the province of Reggio di Calabria.

Government and politics

Administrative divisions

Calabria is divided into five provinces:

Provinces of Calabria.

Province Area (km²) Population Density (inh./km²)
Province of Catanzaro 2,391 367,976 153.9
Province of Cosenza 6,650 733,628 110.3
Province of Crotone 1,717 173,300 100.9
Province of Reggio di Calabria 3,183 566,884 178.1
Province of Vibo Valentia 1,139 167,513 147.1



Main sights

The Byzantine church known as the Cattolica.

Tourism in Calabria has increased over the years. The main tourist attractions are the coastline and the mountains. The coastline alternates between rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, and is sparsely interrupted by development when compared to other European seaside destinations. The sea around Calabria is clear, and there is a good level of tourist accommodation. The poet Gabriele D'Annunzio called the coast facing Sicily near Reggio Calabria "... the most beautiful kilometer in Italy" (il più bel chilometro d'Italia). The primary mountain tourist draws are Aspromonte and La Sila, with its national park and lakes. Some other prominent destinations include:

  • Reggio Calabria, on the strait between the mainland and Sicily, the largest and oldest city in Calabria, renowned for its panoramic seaside with botanical gardens between the art nouveau buildings and the beautiful beaches, and its 3,000 years of history with the old Aragonian Castle and the great National Museum of Magna Grecia where the famous Riace bronzes (Bronzi di Riace) are located.
  • Cosenza, seat of the Cosentian Academy, renowned for its cultural institutions, the beautiful old quarter, a Romanesque Cathedral and a Hohenstaufen Castle.
  • Scilla, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, "pearl" of the "Violet Coast", has a delightful panorama and is the site of some of Homer's tales.
  • Tropea, on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, is home to a dramatic seaside beach, and the Santa Maria dell'Isola sanctuary. It is also renowned for its sweet red onions (mainly produced in Ricadi).
  • Capo Vaticano, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a very famous wide bathing place near Tropea.
  • Gerace, near Locri, is a beautiful medieval city with a Norman castle and an ancient cathedral.
  • Squillace, a seaside resort and important archeological site.
  • Stilo, the home of Tommaso Campanella, with its Norman castle and beautiful Byzantine church, the Cattolica.
  • Pizzo, on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, known for its ice cream called "Tartufo". Interesting places in Pizzo are Piazza Repubblica and the Aragonian castle where Murat was murdered.
  • Paola, a town situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, renowned for being the birth place of St. Francis of Paola, saint patron of Calabria and Italian sailors, and for the old Franciscan sanctuary built during the last hundred years of the Middle Ages by the will of St. Francis.
  • Sybaris, on the Ionian sea, a picturesque village situated near the excavation of ancient Sybaris, a Greek colony of the 7th century BC.
  • Catanzaro, located at the centre of the narrowest point of Italy, from where the Ionian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea are both visible, but not from Catanzaro. Of note are the well-known one-arch bridge (Viaduct Morandi-Bisantis, one of the tallest in Europe), the Cathedral (rebuilt after World War II bombing), the castle, the promenade on the Ionian sea, the park of biodiversity and the archaeological park.
  • Soverato on the Ionian Sea, also known as the "Pearl" of the Ionian Sea. Especially renowned for its beaches, boardwalk and nightlife.
  • Nicotera on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a beautiful little medieval town with an ancient Ruffo's castle.
  • Ancient temples of the Roman gods on the sun-kissed hills of Catanzaro still stand as others are swept beneath the earth. Many excavations are going on along the east coast, digging up what seems to be an ancient burial ground.
  • Samo, a village on the foot of the Aspromonte, is well-known for its spring water and ruins of the old village destroyed in the 1908 Messina earthquake.


Although the official national language of Calabria has been Standard Italian since before unification in 1861, as a consequence of its deep and colourful history, Calabrian dialects have developed that have been spoken in the region for centuries. Most linguists divide the various dialects into two different language groups. In the northern one-third of the region, the Calabrian dialects are considered part of the Neapolitan language (or Southern Italian) and are grouped as Northern Calabrian or Cosentino. In the southern two-thirds of the region, the Calabrian dialects are considered part of the Sicilian language and are often grouped as Central and Southern Calabrian.

Other historical languages have left an imprint on the region. In isolated pockets, as well as some quarters of Reggio Calabria (historical stronghold of the Greek language in Italy), a hybrid language that dates back to the 9th century, called Griko, is spoken. A variety of Occitan can also be found in certain communities and French has had an influence on many Calabrian words and phrases. In several villages, the Arbëresh dialect of the Albanian language has been spoken since a wave of refugees settled there in the 15th century. In addition, since Calabria (as well as other parts of southern Italy and Sicily) were once ruled by the Spanish, some Calabrian dialects exhibit Spanish derivatives.

It is important to highlight the presence of Calabrians in Humanism and in the Renaissance. Indeed the Hellenistics in this period frequently came from Calabria maybe because of the Greek influence. The rediscovery of Ancient Greek was very difficult because this language had been almost forgotten. In this period the presence of Calabrian humanists or refugees from Constantinople was fundamental. The study of Ancient Greek, in this period, was mainly a work of two monks of the monastery of Seminara: Barlaam, bishop of Gerace, and his disciple, Leonzio Pilato. Leonzio Pilato, in particular, was a Calabrian born near Reggio Calabria. He was an important teacher of Ancient Greek and translator, and he helped Giovanni Boccaccio in the translations of Homer's works.


The majority of Calabrians are Roman Catholic. In the southern areas, there are some Byzantine Orthodox congregations in the Greek and Albanian communities. There are also communities of Evangelists on the western coast. The most famous saint in Calabria and also the patron saint of the region is St. Francesco from Paola.

Even though it is currently a very small community, there has been a long history of the presence of Jews in Calabria. The Jews have had a presence in the region for at least 1600 years and possibly as much as 2300 years. Calabrian Jews have had notably influence on many areas of Jewish life and culture. Although virtually identitical to the Jews of Sicily, the Jews of Calabria are considered a distinct Jewish population due to historical and geographic considerations. There is a small community of Italian Anusim who have resumed the Jewish faith of their ancestors.[5]


The cuisine is a typical southern Italian Mediterranean cuisine with a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant), and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important in Calabria. In contrast to most other Italian regions, Calabrians have traditionally placed an emphasis on the preservation of their food, in part because of the climate and potential crop failures. As a result, there is a tradition of packing vegetables and meats in olive oil, making sausages and cold cuts (Sopressata, 'Nduja), and, along the coast, curing fish- especially swordfish, sardines (sardelle rosamarina) and cod (Baccalà). Local desserts are typically fried, honey-sweetened pastries (Cudduraci, scalille or scalidde) or baked biscotti-type treats (such as 'nzudda).

Some local specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice (liquirizia), Lagane e Cicciari (ceci) (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Cheese of Sheep), and Pignolata.

Although Calabrian wines are not well known outside Italy, in ancient times Calabria was referred to as Enotria (from Ancient Greek Οἰνωτρία - Oenotria, "land of wine"). According to ancient Greek tradition, Οἴνωτρος (Oenotrus), the youngest of the sons of Lycaon, was the eponymous of Oenotria[6]. Some vineyards have origins dating back to the ancient Greek colonists. The best known DOC wines are Cirò (Province of Crotone) and Donnici (Province of Cosenza). 3% of the total annual production qualifies as DOC. Important grape varieties are the red Gaglioppo, and white Greco. Many producers are resurrecting local, ancient grape varieties which have been around for as long as 3000 years.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Eurostat 2006
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ "World Port Rankings 2005". American Association of Port Authorities. May 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  4. ^ Van Marle, Gavin (2008-01-31). "Europe Terminals stretched to limit". Lloyds List Daily Commercial News: pp. 8–9. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, Arcadia, 8.3.5, at Theoi Project
  7. ^ The-Wine-Library Short Description of wine in Calabria

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Calabria

Calabria is a region in Southern Italy. It's considered the Caribbean of Europe thanks to its pristine beaches, stunning landscape, and rustic charms. Hillside towns, ancient Greek temples and Byzantine churches dot the countryside of Italy's best kept secret.

The region's climate is mild in the winter, with hot, dry summers. The region is surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea: the Ionian Sea is to the east, the Tyhrrenean to the west and the Strait of Messina to the south. As such, the sea is a big part of the region's culture and cuisine.


Calabria is subdivided into five provinces: Catanzaro, Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio di Calabria and Vibo Valentia.



Calabria has historically been one of the poorest regions in Italy, although it is improving now. The region is quite undeveloped and undervisited by tourists, but is therefore also unspoiled.


As one of the more remote regions of Italy, English is not as widely spoken in Calabria as it is in the more urbanized north. The Calabresi speak two different forms of Italian, standard Italian as well as their local dialect, which can be difficult to comprehend if you speak only standard Italian.

Get in

Calabria is serviced by airports in Reggio Calabria (Tito Minniti), Lamezia Terme (Sant'Eufemia) and Crotone (Sant'Anna).

The main north-south highway through Calabria is the A3 Autostrada from Salerno to Reggio Calabria.

Get around

For holiday makers, there is a free bus service that runs from Lamezia Terme Airport to Tropea. Other modes of transport include the train which runs along the whole coast of Calabria and stops of at the main towns or alternatively can hire a car from Lamezia Airport.

Praja a Mare beach, Calabria
Praja a Mare beach, Calabria

When you visit Calabria, spending a couple of days in Praja a Mare (known as Praja) is a great time. The off coast Dino Island is popular for its Grotta Azzurra (Blue Cave), where you can swim surrounded by fish in crystal blue water.

the Blu Grotto, one of the caves on Dino Island, Praja a Mare
the Blu Grotto, one of the caves on Dino Island, Praja a Mare


If there is a fundamental ingredient to Calabrese cooking, it would be the peperoncino. Calabrese cooking tends toward the spicy thanks to the generous use of various varieties of hot peppers in regional cuisine. In fact, so popular is the peperoncino, that the village of Diamante honors the hot pepper with its own festival. In the first week of September the locals celebrate the Festival del Peperoncino, dedicated to the unofficial symbol of Calabria -- the cayenne pepper. During the festival, one can taste freshly harvested peppers or try locally-produced products that make use of the spicy condiment -- anything from pasta to (yes) gelato. Olio Santo, olive oil infused with hot pepper, is sometimes added to a plate of pasta to give it a little extra zip.

Sopresatta is a popular dried sausage typical of the region.

Alici ripieni, stuffed anchovies, is a popular seafood dish.

Sardella is produced in some of the towns along the Ionian coast in the province of Cosenza. It is a spicy paste made with olive oil, mashed baby sardines and hot pepper.

Some Neapolitan specialties such as Braciole ('Raciol in Calabrese dialect) are common in the region.


Calabria is an up-and-coming producer of wines, with a number of regional wines earning the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) label from the Italian government. Among the region's DOC wines are:

  • Bivongi
  • Cirò
  • Donnici
  • Greco Bianco
  • Lamezia
  • Melissa
  • Pollino
  • Sant'Anna Isola Capo Rizzuto
  • San Vito di Luzzi
  • Savuto
  • Scavigna
  • Verbicaro

Most of these wines are not available for purchase or would be exceedingly difficult to purchase at a store in the U.S. as they are primarily produced for domestic consumption. Locally-produced wines can be purchased by the bottle at area stores at a steep discount to what they would retail for (if available) stateside.


THOTEL Lamezia, four-star hotel near Lamezia Terme airport.

Stay safe

Though not as poor as it was in the early part of the last century, Calabria is still one of the least developed regions in Western Europe, and so there is crime in the region. Tourists are rarely the target of crime. The high-profile crime in Calabria that receives the most media attention, at least in Italy, concerns the Mafia, called in Calabria the 'Ndrangheta.

Road safety is a greater concern for tourists visiting the region. The SS 106 which runs along the Ionian coast from Reggio Calabria to Taranto is considered one of the deadliest roads in all of Europe.


THOTEL Lamezia, four-star hotel near Lamezia Terme airport.

  • Apulia - visit the neighboring region
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun


  1. A region of southern Italy.


Simple English

Flag Coat of arms
File:Flag of File:Coat of arms of
File:Regione Calabria
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Country Italy
Capital Catanzaro
President Agazio Loiero (Democratic Party)
Basic statistics
Area  15,081 km² (5,823 sq mi)
(Ranked 10th, 5.0 %)
Population 2,007,707 (12/2007)
(Ranked 10th, 3.4 %)
 - Density 133 /km² (345 /sq mi)
Other information
GDP/ Nominal € 32.5 billion (2006)

Calabria is a region of the south of Italy. The capital is Catanzaro. The population in 2004 was about 2.009.506 .


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