Short drives around Calabria: Falerna, Altilia, Malito

Friends staying over provides the opportunity of hiring a car and driving around Calabria for some sightseeing and photos. With a drive south of Cosenza to Falerna first, decided to explore the small villages of Altilia and Malito.

As Ben, our guest from Thailand leaves tomorrow after only a short stay of a week during the Christmas festive season over 2017/2018, it is time for a sightseeing trip to a few southern villages. Decided on a drive to the coastal town of Falerna first, before heading north to Cosenza again but inland, to explore a couple of the smaller villages in the hills.

Falerna, Calabria, Italy

The great advantage of Cosenza is that regardless of whether you want to surround yourself with beautiful beaches, coastal ancient villages, or immerse yourself amongst stunning mountains in a national park, it’s all within an easy drive from the city.


A quick trip to coastal Falerna in the province of Catanzaro only to find that as expected, most things are closed as this is a summer town really.

There’s always time for a leisurely coffee and snack before a long walk on the waterfront to take some photos. And of course, a long walk builds an appetite for a delicious Gelato (€1.50) at the Bar Gelataria Jolly on Viale Aldo Moro 10, before heading north again, to the hilltop villages.

Falerna, Calabria, Italy
Ben setting up for close-up wave shots


Visible from the highway from Cosenza to Lamezia International Airport, I always comment on how I would like to visit a village perched high on a rocky ridge hilltop, whilst driving past the Altilia turn-off sign.

Today, we decided to take the turn-off on the highway to do some exploring.

The winding narrow road climbed higher and higher until finally reaching the small quaint village of Altilia, which strangely enough is like a ghost town, and at over 590 metres, much colder than Falerna’s sea-level location.

Altilia, Calabria, Italy
Surveying the southern lands…

Located near the Savuto Valley this ancient tidy village boasts stunning views looking down and across the Savuto Valley. The village’s roots date back to the tenth century, which is evident in the gorgeous stone architecture.

Altilia, Calabria, Italy
Breathtaking views!

A quick panorama video taken with my Lumix compact camera, so that you can get a feel for the vistas from Altilia – simply gorgeous! Next time, I’ll try The Beast (my three-kilo Nikon and lens) to take a video.

Meandering the cobbled lanes and just having fun, the occasional local’s head popped out of a window or from around a corner, to see us strangers in their village – quite funny.

Altilia, Calabria, Italy
A stroll through the village

In a very strong dialect, one elderly lady eyed my face suspiciously as I approached and in her croaky voice uttered: ‘I don’t know you’. In such a small village and given her age, I’m sure she knows everyone here and is possibly related to many.

Altilia, Calabria, Italy
Album cover?

After many photos, exploring many stoned lanes, and with worsening weather, we decided to push on as the afternoon’s light dimmed slowly, and the temperature dropped significantly.

Altilia, Calabria, Italy
Another stunning panorama!
Altilia, Calabria, italy
Altilia’s Abbey Road with Mark sporting a lamp post!

On to the neighbouring village of Malito, we drove…


Although Malito’s origins are unknown, some believe that this village dates back to 986 and some believe older, due to the Pagan ruins and sepulchres’ discovered. And yet, there is also the fact that in 132 BC, the Romans started the road that took four years to complete, connecting Capua to Reggio Calabria, and which crossed the Malito Fields.

Malito, Calabria, Italy
Yesteryear quaintness

Sometimes it’s really hard to find any information on these small villages situated on the outskirts of cities. I would love to know if anyone has any history for this village?

Malito, Calabria, italy
Roof with a view

For now, we are happy to explore Malito on a crisp winter’s afternoon and mess about in this chilly altitude!

Malito, Calabria, Italy
Malito laneways
Malito, Calabria, Italy
Fratelli (brothers)
Malito, Calabria, italy
High altitude catwalk…

A quick escape to Scalea and Paola

As the buses are a little hit-and-miss over this festive season, decided on a drive to Scalea today as Ben needs to catch his train back to Rome.

Discovering that the train didn’t stop at Scalea, we drove south along the coast and back to Paola, where his ticket commenced. Quite strange as typically, all trains stop at Scalea.

Scalea, Paola, Calabria, Italy
Hilltop town – drive from Scalea to Paola
Scalea, Paola, Calabria, Italy
Snowy mountaintops – Scalea to Paola
Paola, Calabria, Italy
Afternoon siesta

Beautiful Scalea is a relaxed seaside town during the winter months although the summer months are quite different when this town becomes a tourist resort destination. Many local and European tourists flock to the beach and bake.

Paola is similar in the summer but a little less up-market than Scalea. Still, I’ve visited this town where thousands of beachgoers cram the seaside. Both towns are great stops for visitors and have reasonable train and bus infrastructure.

Street art, Paola, Calabria, italy

New Year’s Eve

An invitation to join a group of friends in Arcavacata for drinks and nibbles before driving back to Cosenza for the Skunk Anansie concert in Piazza Bruzi.

With road closures at every side road to Corso Mazzini, this kept a lot of the crowds away as by the time we arrived at the concert it was quiet.

The annoying thing is that to enter Mazzini, security searched everyone and no plastic bottles were allowed, not even water bottles – only plastic cups. We had de-cantered alcohol into plastic bottles pre-empting the glass bottle ban, so, we stood there pouring our drink into plastic cups. I believe this ban was so that the crowd would buy drinks from Bars, which had stayed open. The whole organisation was much more stringent and very different to last year’s event where we could take our own alcohol, much more laid back, and enjoyable.

The concert was good but much too short, especially for how much it cost the Cosenza Commune – many locals are not happy with this expense.

Following the concert, crowds, which had swelled to many more people, wandered up and down the Corso, being directed one way or another by security, and not allowed to wander off to blocked side roads.

New Year’s Day

After rolling in at around 4 a.m. and a much-needed sleep-in today, a well-earned chilled day is agreed by all. Not a great way to see the new year, but necessary.

Typically, everything is shut on New Year’s Day in Cosenza, at least until later in the afternoon. Even Bars, typically open all day long and into the evening are shut; and where you buy coffee, pastries, and savouries.

Venturing out for coffee and pastry, just like last year, we found Bar Bronx opened before 16:00hrs, so flopped onto the chairs and grazed before heading home once more.

An excellent time was had by all and look forward to the next New Year’s Eve – hope I’m here…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Italy at Image Earth Travel.

street art, Altilia, Calabria, Italy
Altilia street art
street art, Altilia, Calabria, Italy
Opposing side

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20 responses to “Short drives around Calabria: Falerna, Altilia, Malito”

  1. Agness of a Tuk Tuk Avatar

    Wow! These all seem like excellent day trip destinations. Is summer the best time of the year to explore Calabria and its surroundings?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      There are many more to explore and write about yet Agness, check more here: Italy.

      No, I think summer is the worst time of year in Europe, but especially in Italy. August is when almost everyone in Italy hits the seaside towns or the mountains so, apart from coastal towns/villages, other places become very quiet and many things are closed. Transport is also cut back and typically, everything is more expensive during July, and August.

      If friends are visiting, I always say to try and come during April-June (early) or Sept-October as these are shoulder months and everything goes back to normal.

  2. the eternal traveller Avatar

    How lovely to have such characterful little villages to visit. What was your response to the old lady who didn’t know you??

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi, there are so many small villages to explore yet.

      My response in Italian was: ‘I’m not from around these parts’…she then eyed me suspiciously, invited me in for a coffee, and when I politely declined, she gave me a big smile and went indoors. 🙂

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        That’s funny! You knew just how to handle the situation.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, think she was surprised that a stranger could understand her thick Italian Dialect…I’m learning! 😉

  3. Keith Jewitt Avatar
    Keith Jewitt

    I’m learning more and more about the area where I live from you Nilla – Thanks …

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thant’s a great thing Keith and glad that I can show someone that’s lived in Calabria for over 10 years something new – my job is done here. 🙂

  4. antongorlin Avatar

    great photos! my fav is the one with the roofs. So moody!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Anton – feedback from a fellow photographer is much appreciated.
      I see you’re living in Sydney, which provides many vistas for your beautiful landscape photos. 🙂

  5. Marat Stepanoff Avatar

    Great work. I like your photos.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and your photos are beautiful!

  6. Aixa Avatar

    I love road trips. This one, with its varied landscapes and good company, seems like it was a really good one. Fun to follow your trip like this, Nilla.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Aixa!
      I also love road trips, especially in a motorhome where everything is at the ready when you stop and set up.

  7. Suzanne et Pierre Avatar

    Lovely photos. What a beautiful area you have explored. (Suzanne)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Suzanne! It’s a lovely area of Italy and untouched by tourism.

      1. Suzanne et Pierre Avatar

        Always great to visit places that are still authentic…that is until Lonely Planet or other travel sites put the region on their Top places to visit in a particular year. I was sorry to see that Basilicata made the list of 2017 or 2018 as it was another area that wasn’t too touched by tourism which was great. We visited in 2005 and it was great to be almost our own…I am assuming it has changed since then.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly, there are still many places here that Lonely Planet hasn’t touched, which is great.
        Although it isn’t too far from Cosenza, haven’t made it to Basilicata yet and hope it isn’t too touristy when I finally visit. I will let you know if it has changed and imagine it has since 2005.

  8. Gerri Avatar

    Lovely photos! Thanks for posting!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Gerri!

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