Taste of Calabria
Taste Your Way through Natalina’s Ancestral Region…
September 18-28, 2019*
*Air Transit offers a direct Toronto-Lamezia flight during this period
$100 Early Booking Bonus for the first 10 to book before February 15,2019
Limited to 18 persons maximum, 10 guests required to guarantee departure
Explore the heart and soul of southern Italy
Often overlooked for the more “famous” regions of Italy, Calabria is an uncharted territory for culinary enthusiasts’ worldwide – which is why we’re so excited to share our Calabria journey with you!
This is a one-of-a-kind experience, created to immerse you in this beautiful region, which also happens to be Natalina’s ancestral region. We know you’ll fall in love with this off-the-beaten path culinary adventure!
“We went on the wonderful Taste of Calabria Tour, Natalina Bombino Campagnolo is a wonderful facilitator and planned an excellent, informative, and very tasty experience. She helped make our group a family as she introduced us to the flavours of her ancestral homeland. Natalina’s selection of Silvia as our knowledgeable, flexible tour guide highlights Natalina’s understanding that good food and good company go hand in hand! Thanks for a great experience!”
-Sharyn O’Leary Sweeney and Jack Sweeney
Tico Licence: #50018105, #50021759 (wholesale) Exclusively Malta & Mediterranean Food Tours Ltd.
* we require a 10 person minimum to guarantee this departure
This 10-day/9-night tour includes:
- Group Airport Transfers in Italy (Pre- and Post-Airport Transfers not included, but can be arranged)
- All accommodations are 4 star or more
- 9 breakfast, 7 lunches (with wine), 6 dinners (with wine)
- All taxes, meal gratuities and gratuities for local guides and coach driver
- All guided tours outlined in the itinerary, with a local, English-speaking guide
- Your Hosts for the duration of the tour are Natalina and/or Silvia, our long-time, Italian guide. Natalina is fluent in Italian, an expert in Italian food & wine culture and has traveled to this Region many times.
- Transfers to and Return International Air from your main departure airport in North America (Note: Exclusively Malta & Mediterranean Food Tours will work with you to coordinate the best flight schedule at the best possible rate)
- Optional medical or cancellation insurance
- Meals and attractions not included in the itinerary
- Gratuities for hotel staff
When you book a tour and travel with Natalina, you get exclusive access to her private Facebook group with travel tips, information and more on experiencing Italy’s culinary gems!
Price per person
- Double accommodation (two people/room): $5,699 CAD*
- Single accommodation (one person/room): $6,150 CAD**
- Limited single accommodations available
- 10 required for a guaranteed departure
Use your air miles, book your own flight, or meet us in Lamezia Terme (EU residents are welcome; included group airport transfer to the hotel in Tropea from Lamezia Terme Airport (SUF). Best to arrive on Alitalia AZ 1171 at 2:30 p.m.)
Payment & Refund Dates
A deposit of $1,500 CAD is required to secure your place on the tour.
The deposit is fully refundable up until 90 days before departure, at which time, the balance is due and payable.
“Taking the “Taste of Calabria” tour with host Natalina and guide Silvia proved to be one of my best travel decisions. With 13 other guests, we explored this part of southern Italy together, and by the end of the trip I felt I had gained 13 new friends. As a single traveller, the supplemental cost was remarkably reasonable, and yet I still enjoyed the exceptional quality of accommodation and service as those travelling together. We spent 3 nights at 3 different hotels (Tropea, Reggio Calabria, and Crotone), all of which were clean, extremely comfortable, and well located. No packing and unpacking everyday for us!”
-Valerie Anderson, 2018 tour participant
Ready to experience Italy like a local?
Depart from your home airport for your overnight flight to Lamezia Terme, Calabria, with a connection in Europe.
Arrive in Calabria (D)
Arrive at Lamezia Terme Airport and be transferred (group transfer) to your host hotel in Tropea, the Tropis Hotel, and check into our sea-view rooms. The hotel is centrally located with a mere 8 minute walk to the Centre of Tropea – offering ease of access for self-exploration during your free time. Facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea is one of the most enchanting locations on the Calabrian Coast. Tropea has that lovely timeless feel that is characteristic of southern Italian seaside towns. You’ll love the maze of pretty streets, hidden squares, palazzi, oh and that view! Enjoy an included welcome dinner in short walking distance from our hotel.
Accommodations: Tropis Hotel in Tropea for 2 nights
Tropea Exploration (B)
Ease into the tour with a relaxing day exploring Tropea with our guide to better acquaint you with this beautiful seaside town. It’s foundation dates back to Roman times and also included settlement by the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and as a part of the Kingdom of Naples.Tropea is nicknamed the ‘Pearl’ of the Tyrrhenian Sea and for good reason. Not only does it boast magnificent walls, towers and gates but it also has a sandy beach so if the weather is just right, that might be a great option for the afternoon. The food item that Tropea is most associated with is the famous Tropea red onion. Exported for two thousand years, the red onion has built its reputation around Italy and the world thanks to its intense red colour and sweet taste, a feature that is not found in any other onion among the 50 existing types. Enjoy a tasting at a shop that is all about the local onion!
Your lunch, afternoon and dinner are your own today. If you are jetlagged and need a nap, take advantage of the leisure time or relax by the hotel pool. An optional, lovely scenic boat tour could be arranged in advance as well for those interested. Just let us know and we will arrange it for you.
Spilinga and San Giorgio Morgeto (B, L, D)
We will check out of our hotel this morning before we start off. Our next full day in Calabria is going to be a little spicy, hearty and rounded out with lovely olive oil. Not too far outside of Tropea we find Spilinga which is the birthplace of Nduja (IN-DOO-YAH) which is a particularly spicy, spreadable pork salumi. It is typically made with parts of the pig such as the shoulder and belly, roasted peppers and a mixture of spices. The very interesting thing about Nduja is that it is a relatively new food item originating only in the last two decades. Ask any of your friends whose family originated from Calabria and they won’t know what it is; buy them a small jar on your travels and they won´t stop talking about it. We will visit a relatively small manufacturer to see how Nduja is made. You’re going to love the hot pepper farm!
From here we will travel one hour south east and arrive in the San Giorgio Morgeto area. This is from where Natalina Bombino Campagnolo´s family originates. On top of that fame, San Giorgio Morgeto has two other gems – one of the best salumi producers and arguably one of the best olive oils in Italy!
We’ll arrive at an award winning macelleria (butcher shop) which took the crown for best salumi in all of Italy. Quite the achievement! It all began in the 1940s with grandfather Vincenzo and continues to this day as a family run operation.
It’s almost time for lunch and we are at an award winning Macelleria so you guessed it, an Antipasto style lunch with all the traditional Calabrese salumi, cheeses, breads etc. complete with the family wine!
After lunch, we head off to the olive groves for a stroll and discussion on authentic, extra virgin, olive oil production with a tour of the facility and tasting. This Olive Oil producing business was established in 1940 by the father and his 5 sons renting an olive grove and an obsolete oil mill. After much hard work, the family bought larger parcels of land to cultivate more olives and the rest is history.
Enjoy some free time in the village of San Giorgio or the famous Norman Castle Ruins. Hey, maybe we’ll run into one of Natalina’s cousins!
We will drive to our next stop, Reggio Calabria, check into our next hotel and also meet for a group dinner. Our Host restaurant is a treat tonight, like visiting family for a family celebration , no tourists here… we are Calabrese tonight!
Accommodations: Hotel Excelsior in Reggio for 3 nights
Reggio Calabria and Cooking Experience (B,L,D)
Today we wake up in Reggio Calabria, the largest and most populous city in all of Calabria. Reggio is located on the “toe” of the Italian Peninsula and is separated from the island of Sicily by the Strait of Messina. Reggio has commonly used popular nicknames: The “city of Bronzes”, after the Bronzes of Riace that are testimonials of its Greek origins; the “city of bergamot”, which is exclusively cultivated in the region; and the “city of Fatamorgana”, an optical phenomenon visible in Italy only from the Reggio seaside.
Silvia will take us on a leisurely stroll this morning along the promenade outside our hotel for a “walk & talk’ experience. Learn some general history of the area while getting some exercise with stunning views!
Optional for those interested, we will discover the famous bergamot and all its expressions. The bergamot is a wonderfully unique citrus that has a bitter, almost musty-smelling pulp and incredibly light, fragrant zest. Historically, this citrus has been prized principally for its essential oil that is obtained by pressing the skin and then used as perfume or even for medicinal uses. Ninety percent of bergamot oil in the world comes from the Reggio Calabria region. We will visit a shop for a tasting and opportunity to purchase their products.
At lunch time, we will arrive at an agriturismo north of the city to enjoy a “hands on” culinary experience followed by a farmer’s lunch. And since this is at an agriturismo, just about everything we will be enjoying at lunch is sourced from the farm.
The farm has 25 hectares of land, of which 6 are destined for chestnut wood cultivation. Everything from cereals, vegetables, vines for wine, olives and medicinal plants are grown here in addition to cattle and sheep rearing. Sheep are milked and milk is turned into cheese and ricotta. Delicious!
After lunch, we will head back to our hotel which is conveniently located near the prestigious National Archaeological Museum of Magna Græcia, dedicated to Ancient Greece (which houses the Bronzes of Riace, a rare example of Greek bronze sculpture, which became one of the symbols of the city).
After a museum visit, it will be a “don’t mind if I do” gelato tasting at a 3 generation family run establishment which has just won best gelato in all of Italy. Don’t worry; it’s just steps away from the hotel so you can indulge over the course of the next couple of days – guilt free of course.
Dinner this evening will be enjoyed as you wish. Our hotel is located right in the Town Centre so there are many places to choose from.
Pentedattilo and Scilla (B,L,D)
After breakfast we will head out and travel just 30 kilometers southwest to arrive at village Pentedattilo on the edge of the Aspromonte Mountains. The direct translation of Pentedattilo means five fingers in the local greco-calabro language and was so named after how the village looks from a short distance. What’s very interesting about this village is that it is a ghost town and has been since the 1960s. Pentedattilo has seen it all, from earthquakes to a supposed massacre. You will be in awe of this very unique opportunity.
And if you like cats, be prepared to make a few friends!
Next, we will travel to the coast where we find the stunningly-located fishing village of Scilla. What contributes to its beauty is the hill topped ancient fortress that towers over the village.
Scilla is mythically the home of the fearsome monster Scylla who, along with Charybdis (over the sea towards Sicily) guarded the narrow Strait of Messina and menaced Odysseus / Ulysses as he sailed by. It is said that the castle dates back to the time of Ulysses.
We’ll enjoy an included fish lunch here and some free time before heading back to Reggio Calabria.
Once back in Reggio, time to refresh before heading out to a group dinner in nearby Gallico. Tonight some of Natalina’s family will host us in their award winning restaurant! Buon appetito!
Mammola and arrive in Crotone (B,L,D)
Today we depart for Crotone with a couple of stops along the way. Mid-morning we arrive in the village of Mammola. Mammola is a charming village located between the Serre and the Aspromonte mountains. The first settlement dates back to the 4 – 5th century B.C. and it developed at the end of the 10th century A.D. when a stable village rose and housed people who fled from Saracen raids. It was the refuge of Byzantine monks who contributed to make Mammola a town where activities, like silk growing, as well as literature and science studies flourished.
Our main reason for visiting Mammola is to see an extremely interesting museum called Musaba. It is an expression by artists Nik Spatari and Hiske Mass as both a park, museum and laboratory located in the foothills of the rugged Aspromonte Mountains. We will be guided through the property enjoying art, culture and the outdoors!
A stock-fish lunch (with meat options) will be enjoyed at a local restaurant. The centuries-long tradition of stock-fish in Mammola is obtained from dried codfish and was regarded as food for the poor laborers when they carried out hard work in the fields. From here we will depart for Crotone with a brief stop on the way at Le Castella. Is it an optical illusion or is that castle floating in the water?
Upon arrival in Crotone, we will check into our host hotel – Lido Degli Scogli where we will enjoy a 2 night stay. This hotel is the most modern of all of the hotels on this trip and is an expression of the brothers who run it. One of the brothers for example is an accomplished artist and his work is found everywhere – from the hotel rooms to the dining rooms and even the outdoor terrace. You get more bang for your buck as it truly is a museum hotel. We’ll enjoy a welcome dinner here and then rest up for the next day.
Accommodations: Hotel Lido Degli Scogli in Crotone for 2 nights
Strongoli and Cirò (B,L,D)
Today the emphasis is on cheese and wine! We will start with a visit to the area of Calabria known for the cheese that is simply known as Crotonese cheese. We will arrive at a farm to learn about the cheese production and most importantly to enjoy tastings of this distinctive cheese. It’s one of Natalina’s favourites!
A short distance from Strongoli is the famous wine region of Cirò. Considered one of the oldest named wines in the world, with a winemaking history stretching back thousands of years, this is Calabria’s flagship wine. The highest-quality grapes come from vineyards employing the Alberello Basso Vine Training Method, meaning grapes are harvested by hand due to their bushy shape. The main grape types of Cirò include Greco Bianco and Gaglioppo. Instead of traveling into the village centre to visit a winery, we thought it be much more interesting to enjoy the Cirò experience in the vineyards! A lovely tour of the vineyards, the private winery museum, tastings and lunch round out the “wine portion” of our day!
Arrive back in Crotone to relax and refresh for our final dinner in the village centre. We will be transferred to town for dinner with optional time in town.
Camigliatello Silano and San Giovanni in Fiore (B,L)
We will check out of our hotel this morning and head to the country. This morning we will arrive in Camigliatello Silano, a mountainous region (1300 meters above sea level) to discover what food products it is best known for. We will hear about Caciocavallo cheese (literally meaning cheese on horseback) gets its name from the manner in which the cheese is always tied together in a rope and dangled over a wooden board to drain and age. The history of Caciocavallo goes back to 500 BC when Hippocrates first mentioned the cleverness of the Greeks in making it.
We will arrive at an agriturismo for a “hands on” cooking class and lunch including the famous cheese and other local products! Enjoy a walking tour of the farm which includes all sorts of vegetables, fruits, and animals. The lunch will consist of farm sourced mixed antipasti, pasta entree and dessert. As a bonus we will learn about the traditional ‘Tarantella”, dance of Calabria. The Tarantella is most often played and danced during religious festivals and other social occasions. Here is your chance to strut your stuff.
We depart Camigliatello Silano for the quaint Cosenza for our final 2 nights. Its historical center is one of the best preserved in Italy which entertains lively crowds in the evenings. Your hotel is best positioned to enjoy a walk into the city centre. This is a free evening with an optional “Aperi-Cena” at your own expense with the group. As the lunch time Pranzo enjoyed today will be equivalent to a “small wedding banquet”, Aperitivos and a light bite will be just right, and you can experience the famous, Italian Aperitivo Culture!
Accommodations: Royal Hotel, Cosenza 2 nights
Greater Cosenza/Catanzaro Touring (B,L,D)
This morning we will drive south to Soveria Mannelli and arrive at a family run Lanificio (woolen mill) that dates back to 1873. It prides itself on being located in “… a place of the soul that tells the stories of its people.” Merging tradition with technology, this lanificio produces blankets, carpets and more. You’ll feel the difference in their products on a tour of the workshop.
A light lunch will be enjoyed at a gorgeous agriturismo a short distance away. We’ll arrive back at the hotel late afternoon to enjoy some free time exploring and then later enjoy a farewell dinner this evening in the centre of Consenza.
Depart for Lamezia Airport (B)
This morning we will depart for the airport or other travels.
We are sure you will leave with many incredible memories of the food culture of Calabria but most especially the connections you have made with its people and your fellow travelers.
There is an expression in Italian: “mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare” which means “Eat to live and not live to eat”. We trust this experience has furthered your endeavor to enjoy the beauty & food of Calabria to its fullest!