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Calabria, the area which forms the "toe" of Italy's foot on the map, is less developed as a tourist region than many other parts of Italy. The countryside is a delight for hikers and nature-lovers, and the coastline, which alternates between high, rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, offers many opportunities for water sports.
In the port of Reggio di Calabria, must-sees include the Byzantine cathedral and the National Museum with its ancient statues. Take a stroll along the 3.5km Lungomare seafront promenade, which offers stunning views of Sicily. Greek and Roman archaeological remains can be seen here. At Scilla, enjoy the rugged scenery of the coast and watch the swordfish fleet come in with the catch of the day. The unspoilt character of the Calabrian landscape is best appreciated by visiting the national parks and nature reserves, for example, the Parco Nazionale della Sila Centro, which is very rich in both flora and fauna. From Tropea, take an evening cruise to see the eruptions of the active volcano of Stromboli.
Fresh sardines, cod and swordfish are prominent on the Calabrian menu. Farmers have to contend with poor soil and a hot climate, so concentrate their efforts on cultivating their small plots to the greatest advantage. The local vegetables and fruit are of excellent quality and flavour: tomatoes, aubergines and olives complement the locally produced salamis and cured meats. Foccaccia and pitta breads suggest a Greek or Middle Eastern influence on the cuisine, and desserts are reminiscent of Greek confections with honey and nuts. Calabria is not a major wine producing region, but small local vineyards produce some excellent, fruity reds. Ciró wines, still produced by the methods used by the Ancient Greeks, take up to four years to reach maturity, but are worth the wait.
The four mountain ranges of the region, the Aspromonte, Pollino, Sila, and Serra, have lush green vegetation, and fast-flowing streams and waterfalls. They offer many excellent routes for hiking, as well as mountain biking, cycling, and skiing. In summer, the ski resorts have artificial ski slopes. From the beach of Aspromonte, you can travel to a ski resort within an hour.
Many places along the coast offer water sports. From Tropea, you can go snorkelling or scuba diving and deep sea fishing over the coral reef. Wind and kite surfing are also very popular.
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