Right down in the big toe area of Italy, far away from the normal holiday spots, sits the enchanting region of Reggio Calabria.
The area is wedged between Tyrennhian and Ionian seas and opposite the exciting island of Sicily, being very close to the straits of Messina.
At one time, the provincial capital was a Greek settlement but is now a highly populated and industrious city.
Interestingly it is surrounded by rural and varied terrain comprising woods and olive groves intertwined with small villages and mountainous parts, all leading to the big city.
Vineyards blossom in this climate where flora and fauna create the most beautiful snapshots of an almost forgotten place.
On coastal cliffs, find Oleander and Prickly Pear. Here Bergamot perfumes the air; you can almost sense the delicious aromas of the place.
Most of this area is under the wing of the ‘National Park of Aspromonte’ with its many pines and beech woods, as well as animal life. Here you can enjoy hiking and even see snow-capped views of Sicily’s Mount Etna on a clear day.
The city of Reggio Calabria is known as ‘the town of bronzes’ and its Riace Greek bronze sculptures can be found in ‘Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia’.
It is surrounded by ancient walls, some dating back to the fourth century BC.
The busy port serves as a traveller’s hub for destinations such as Sicily, and is a fascinating spot from which to explore other parts of Calabria, such as Catanzaro or Vibo Valentia.
Reggio Calabria is also the second oldest city in Italy, but also has a modern and upbeat ambience, not to mention a very lively seaside passeggiata, frequented by locals and tourists alike.
On a purely personal level, one of my favourite and most simpatica students came from this fascinating part of Calabria.
She was a joy to teach and a composite of all that is good about Italy, with a great sense of humour to boot.
This has convinced me that the place has something to be inherently proud of and somewhere that people should visit more often.
Although it isn't the first place people think of when they go to Italy it is worth considering.
A destination to explore.