Northern Italy is by far the most popular destination for tourism, with the likes of Rome, Milan, Florence, but don't forget the south.
It is truly spectacular, largely unspoilt with rugged countryside and long sandy beaches and a climate to die for. Discover my journey all along the east coast of Italy. You'll be surprised at all it has to offer.
The Maratea Marina
If you travel an hour or so down from Naples you will discover the picturesque harbour town of Maratea in the region of Campania, with yachts and sailboats moored up and a lovely restaurant right on the harbour where you can enjoy the views and sip a coffee or two whilst soaking up the Italian sunshine. The road to the beach is very steep as the town itself sits high above the sea, the church in Maratea is absolutely stunning and well worth a visit, the town itself has all the amenities that you would need and is a very pleasant way to start your journey.
Then you will travel down to the large coastal town of Scalea in the region of Calabria which is two and a half hours from Naples airport, you can enjoy the unpsoilt views and stunning scenery of south east Italy.
Scalea is one of the largest towns on the east coast and has a long beach, lots of bars and restaurants it is extremely popular in the summer season for Italian tourists as they descend down from Naples, Rome and many other areas of Italy. The reason that they visit Scalea is the warm climate, the scenery and south Italy tends to be much cheaper than the north, holiday rentals are reasonably priced. There are all the facilities that you will need including a large Eurospar supermarket and pleny of shops to browse around.
The town is absolutely buzzing during the six weeks of the Italian holiday period which starts on the second week of July and continues throughout August. There is so much to do, there are watersports, rafting, jeep adventures, snorkelling and sky diving...more about Scalea.
I have done the jeep adventure which takes you 2000km up to the highest peaks, it is a bumpy ride but well worth the time you are literally driven up the side of the mountains no roads just terrain. I saw a gloden eagle whilst I was there and there are wild horses just strolling around the mountains, a great photo opportunity, I was advised to approach them slowly so as not to spook them, be warned!
The mountain ranges are a sight to behold and you stop for a meal naturally, well it wouldn't be Italy if you didn't eat and drink. I would highly recommend this trip for 25 euros (excluding the meal) it is well worth your time, take photos you won't a second chance and hopefully you will see some wildlife too.
You can go rafting starting from Scalea up to Papasidero high in the mountains, it is great fun. You start early about 8 '0' clock in the morning and it takes a couple of hours journeying up and up and up, but it is well worth it, on your journey you can enjoy the wild mountains the unspoilt rugged south Italian countryside. On arrival you put on your safety equipment and are given instructions on what to do, then you get in and away you go. It is paddle power no outboard motors here but don't worry it is not hard paddling and there are nomally at least 6 to a raft.
On my journey down the Lao river in the heat of the August sun it felt like I could have been in the tropics with the sun beating down endless greenery and mountain terrain it was a fascinating journey and one I am really glad I did.
You stop at a mountain waterfall and if you go underneath it, it is amazingly cold even in mid summer, if you are feeling brave enough you can dive into the water from nearby rocks. The journey takes about 3 hours and by the time you reach the bottom you will be feeling hungry and perhaps a little jaded, we then stop for food and coffee at a typical Italian restaurant in the mountain town of Buonvicino.
By the time you get back to Scalea you will probably need a nap and reflect on what a great day you have had, a real adventure and an unforgettable journey into the south Italian mountains, seeing scenery that is completely untouched that takes your breath away.
San Nicola Arcella
Just a few miles further north is San Nicola Arcella with exclusive beaches which aren't so crowded with great scenery looking across to Dino Island, it is a lovely clean and picturesque town with a more sedate pace, well worth a visit.
Dino Island is where you can go snorkelling which is very popular during the summer season, there is sky diving too and you can really see what the scenery from high above it is a great andrelin rush, it really is quite an experience.
Next is the town of Belvedere Marritimo about 8km south of Scalea and has a long promenade where you will see boats moored up on the harbour and you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to visit, my favourite time to visit Belvedere is during the Peppericino Festival when the whole promenade is lined up with stalls selling delicious fresh food, there is traditional singing and dancing and pleny of merriment to enjoy.
The Diamante Murals
I must not forget Diamante with it's spectular murals littered through the whole town, it is small, quaint and very tradtional, a great place to visit, why not walk around the town and enjoy the wonderful artistry and stop for a coffee of course!
About an hour and a half further down the coastline is Amantea, there are not many large towns along the whole of the coast, Amantea is the largest town after Scalea and is a popular stop off point when travelling to and from Lamezia Terme airport. Just time to take a break and an expresso, I have travelled this route many times and I always stop for coffee and a chat with the locals it would be rude not to and is all part of Italian life, the south of Italy is much more sedate and laid back than the hustle and bustle of Naples and Rome, I've always said if you can't relax here you can't relax anywhere! You will also pass Sicily which is a short boat ride away if you choose to visit, you can at least enjoy the sight of the Sicilian coastline from the coastal road.
About half an hour south is Lamezia Terme airport which offers budget airline flights from various European destinations and there are direct flights from America.
After the airport there is Vibo Valentia a small town with a wonderful marina, a lovely tranquil destination with the main town being set along the harbour itself. With hotel restaurants that have air conditioning which not common in South East Italy.
Not far from Vibo Valentino is the Tropea beach which has a really popular beach and is packed during the summer holidays, the reasons are the closeness to the airport and the stunningly beautitul town of Tropea. This town really is a cut above with breathtaking views, fabulous bars and restaurants and has a real air of exclusivity a truly beautiful traditional yet modern Italian town.
If you travel right to the foot if Italy you will reach Reggio Calabria, after all the peace and tranquility of the coastal journey it ends here. A large city that has a huge harbour and is an extremely busy place, there is a large population of people (for South Italy) that live there and it is a very popular place for tourists from all over the world with many coastal apartments on offer and no shortage of rental accommodation available.
One thing to remember is the further south that you go the warmer the temperature, it can be extremely warm in mid summer in the late 40's, so bear that in mind if you are looking to take a summer break. Reggio Calabria has become increasingly popular in recent years but still retains the traditional south Italian feel and there is so much to do and see, you won't get bored but remember the sun cream!
This is my journey through the regions of Campania and Calabria from the south of Naples to the toe of Italy all along south east coast of Italy. I have travelled by train from Scalea to Reggio Calabria before now, once the train leaves Scalea it is coastine all the way, I tried sitting on my seat for the journey, but all I could do was stand and stare out of the window at the unique and fabulous views.
There is nowhere like it so if you fancy skipping the usual Italian holiday destinations in the north of Italy, try the south and discover for yourself what this wonderful part of Italy has to offer.