Calabria: la dolce vita

by Cora.Lydon

Why would you want to share your honeymoon with anyone other than your spouse? Head for the southern tip of Italy to discover a tiny slice of paradise that’s a closely guarded secret

I don’t know about you, but the idea of spending my honeymoon crammed in with another 10 happy couples is less than appealing. So if you’re looking for a romantic Italian getaway to celebrate the start of your marriage, avoid the temptation to flock to Venice or Florence and instead head for somewhere that’s perfect for newly-weds looking for an intimate bolthole.
It’s not hard to fall in love with Calabria – a place where time has stood still and the time-honoured tradition of the siesta is still firmly practised. Set on the southern toe of the country, it’s a remote and rugged part of Italy that has so far remained relatively untouched by tourism – there’s a quaint charm about the area and locals are friendly and welcoming. You won’t find the usual tourist traps or British restaurants here; instead you get to sample a slice of authentic Italian life. And you’re more likely to cross paths with a flock of sheep or a donkey than you are to be mowed down by a moped – such is the landscape and the way of life.
Of course, as any honeymooner will tell you, the hotel has to be perfect. The Baia del Sole hotel is located amid lush banana trees and bright Mediterranean flowers, and you’re so close to the beach you can almost hear the waves gently lapping the shore. The hotel blends perfectly with the natural beauty of Calabria and is carved into old stone walls with wooden beams supporting the pièce de résistance - a stunning open-air restaurant and bar. This restaurant serves up traditional Calabrese and Italian dishes that will delight even the most serious of gastronomes. Plus you can dine with the one you love under a beautiful canopy of stars – how’s that for a honeymoon to remember.
Set on the Tyrrhenian coast, the area is gaining popularity for its miles of stunning coastline, with both family-friendly golden beaches and hidden coves waiting to be uncovered by intrepid explorers. In the town of Tropea you can hire a boat from the marina and, with the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair, enjoy some amazing views of the houses that are built into the stone cliffs. And what could be more romantic than packing up a picnic of juicy sun-ripened tomatoes and crusty bread and heading for the beach to watch the sun set over the sparkling sea with your beloved?
Calabria is home to some great examples of natural beauty – idyllic beaches, impressive mountain ranges, stunning valleys, peaceful sandy bays and hideaway grottoes can all be found in the region. And it’s this variety of natural wonders that delights visitors to the area. If you’re looking to while away a few hours then nothing can beat strolling arm in arm around the town of Pizzo. It’s made up of side streets that are lined with eateries and boutiques opening out onto the main piazza for a picture-perfect photo opportunity.
Day trips and nightlife
If you’re not averse to a little exercise, then a visit to Roccella Jonica is a must. Here you can find an enchanting castle on a steep hillside dominating the landscape of the coastal town. There are many winding pathways to explore as well as fragrant orchards and flowering fields to get lost in. If you want to take in some of the mountain scenery then you should head for the provincial capital of Vibo Valentia - because it’s from here that on a clear day you can see both the magnificent Sila Mountains to the north and the summit of Etna in Sicily to the south.
The Italian culture and lifestyle centres around food, so expect to spend evenings sampling the local delights, which are both delicious and pocket-friendly. Make sure you taste the traditional spaghetti al ragu di totano, a spaghetti dish with squid and tomato sauce, or sagne chine – a moreish lasagne with artichoke and meatballs. For a cooling ice cream, head to Reggio di Calabria’s finest gelateria, Tonino in the Corso, and try the red onion flavour – a local specialty. And there’s no better way to enjoy your food than pairing it with one of Italy’s finest red wines - a large glass of Ciro. Evenings in Calabria tend to be a low-key affair but with your new spouse at your side the sleepy and romantic region of Calabria is bound to tick all the boxes for the perfect honeymoon.
Getting there
Ryanair flies to Lamezia Terme.