Why Calabria in Southern Italy?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked: ‘why Calabria in southern Italy?’

Followed by the next question: ‘Why would you want to leave amazing and beautiful Australia?’

Why Calabria?

Locals here are incredulous that I’d ever want to leave my country, let alone live in Calabria.

To put things into perspective, my father was Calabrese (northern-Italian mother) and I grew up with many stories about a spectacular Calabria. Perhaps it’s an obvious choice even though I do love Australia, my country of birth.

I also have to mention that I think our politicians have ingeniously marketed Australia in such a way that many foreigners see this country as a utopia and a paradise – where everything runs smoothly without any problems – one of the best countries in the world. Sure this is true to a point, but as with many countries including Italy, Australia has good and bad points.


Having travelled for most of my life, I feel at home almost anywhere.

It doesn’t bother me whether I’m out in the middle of the Saharan desert sleeping in a Bedouin tent, sailing in the Caribbean Sea, travelling for days deep into the Amazon, motor homing across European borders, or on an arduous ascent of a Chilean Volcano, I always feel at home.

Where is Calabria?

Calabria is an untouched part of Italy, which is the toe of the boot.

Calabria, Southern Italy, EuropeIf you haven’t heard of Calabria then you really should make an effort to visit.

Surrounded by the gorgeous Tyrrhenian Sea on its western shores and flanked by the sparkling Ionian Sea on its east, you are ensured of beautiful beaches on your visit.

This region only covers around 15,080 km2 and with a population of just under 2 million people, serenity can be achieved.

But Calabria is not just about sand and beaches…

Chianalea, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Chianalea Shores, Reggio Calabria

…or its profound history, quaint sleepy villages, the Sila National Park, and the traditional Spritz in the summer – although not invented in Calabria.

Spritz, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Spritz Delight

This marvellous region in Italy is also about its passionate hospitable people and incredibly scrumptious food.

Falerna, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Falerna Feast

Spending hours over an amazing ‘pranzo’ (lunch) lovingly prepared by a Calabrese until you’re too stuffed to move is common practice, especially on a Sunday.

Most Calabrese have a patch of land somewhere or in their back yard. Growing fresh produce to preserve or to use straight from the garden in what can only be described as the freshest and most flavoursome of traditional dishes is commonplace in Calabria. But I digress…

Back to ‘why Calabria?’

Following the war, Italy lacked food and work, which forced many Italians to take the daunting step to seek work in other countries.

Timpone, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Saying goodbye…

Some remained in their newfound country, whilst others eventually returned to Italy.

Timpone, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Timpone: Land of My Father

My father remained in Australia.

The trials and tribulations of arriving in a foreign land such as Australia in the 1950s are plentiful. After enduring a 40-day voyage at sea (sounds biblical), arriving in Australia without a word of English, without friends, and without a job, my father found work on building roads.

Imagine how hard it would have been in those days (or even today), pouring hot bitumen for roads under Australia’s scorching heat?

Over time and without the help from anyone, he taught himself how to speak, read, and write English. Working and saving hard to buy land, he realised his dream in this new country and started farming for the Sydney markets.

Farming in Australia is not easy, we experience a lot of droughts and floods.

These are some of the harsh stories of reality that still resonate with me today, but also these stories make me appreciate the Calabrese strength, courage, and resilience.

Although my father never had the opportunity to return to his beloved Italy, he longed for his children to visit his village, understand our heritage, and to see the beauty of his Calabria, which his heart never left.

Altilia, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Altilia Vista

Nothing would have made him happier than to know that I’m here…

Altilia, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Streets of Altilia

These deep-seated stories inspired me to start travelling at a young age and finally to my father’s village in this beautiful Italian region.

Timpone, Calabria, southern Italy, Europe
Visiting the ruins of my father’s birthplace (Photo credit: Emma Prowse)

Living in Cosenza allows me to connect with my heritage, improve on my forgotten Italian, absorb the wonderful Calabrese culture – especially the food – and is a gateway for me to visit my family’s villages to reconnect.

My photography and writing journey

As a travel photographer and writer, I love to inspire people to visit regions of our globe that are not so well known, such as Calabria.

Scalea, Calabria, Italy Europe

My work also includes street and documentary photography. Capturing the essence of a candid moment is my passion and strive for images that etch in people’s minds. I hope that you appreciate my photography as a true and sometimes raw representation of reality, with the intention to bring awareness of social conditions.

Don Khong, Laos, SE Asia
Don Khong Island, Laos

Although I picked up my first camera at age 10, it’s only during the last decade that I have devoted quality time to build a portfolio and my two websites. When working in my profession as a Technical Writer, my time is limited for creative ventures.

As well as digital, I still use old 35mm film cameras, so because the images are candid, I rarely use a flash. When necessary, some editing such as cropping, dust removal, or contrast adjustment is applied but I really don’t like post-production.

Photographic exhibition in Calabria

Whilst in Calabria and together with the Piano B – Event Project Management team, I had the fantastic opportunity of holding another solo exhibition: Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition in the delightful village of Cerisano, north of Cosenza.

Palazzo Sersale, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Photo credit: Mark Del Greco

I’m very grateful to the Mayor of Cerisano Lucio Di Gioia for the support of my work.

Take a peek at the elegant and stunning fourteenth-century Calabrese Palazzo Sersale venue – video credit: hallo bunny.

As I’d like to hold another exhibition, at the moment I’m looking around for another venue but this time in Cosenza city.

I hope that you check out this blog site for many more posts on Calabria, other musings of Italy, and loads of posts from travels around the globe.

Don Khong, Laos, SE Asia
Don Khong Island, Laos

Please also pop over to my portfolio of 60-plus countries in my photography site, to which I’m still uploading.

With a plethora of destinations in alluring Calabria still to explore, write about, and photograph, stay tuned for more posts.

Leave me a comment on what you would like to read regarding Calabria, Italy, or another place but remember, I only write about where I’ve actually visited.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy.


120 thoughts on “Why Calabria in Southern Italy?

Add yours

  1. Love your posts and photos. I visited my father’s home town of Soveria Mannelli in 2005. Only there one day due to train times. Since my father’s family immigrated to the USA in 1913 I could not make a connection with anyone in the town . Also our family name of Marasco is very common there and in the nearby towns like Colosimi. Just wondering if you have ever visited that town. Would love to have your view of local history and photos. Etc. Oh I had a really great experience of living at Scarborough Beach near Perth WA for 4 years. Lover traveling there to the north south and east. And of course the red center by train.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Flis!
      I haven’t been to any of those towns yet as I’m still trying to find out more about where my relatives were/are.
      Loads of posts on Calabria if you want to see more of photos and read more
      There’s so much local history here that sometimes it can be overwhelming and each village, city, town, and region has a plethora of stories – locals love to share their history with anyone that will listen. Check out my Historic Walk in Cosenza and the restorations work of manuscripts and medieval books that’s done in Cosenza – I’m sure you’ll find these 2 posts interesting.

      My partner’s son used to live around that area in Perth – our house is near Brisbane. I’ve not been to the red centre yet. Sounds as though you’ve travelled a bit… 😉


  2. Hi and thanks Nilla for your most recent post on revisiting your father’s house and Calabria in general. It resonated immensely with me. My father and mother also immigrated from Italy to Canada after the second world war. Both have recently passed away and I am in the midst of planning my own adventure to rediscover Italy, my roots and hopefully find a semi-permanent home. I have been a few times but only as a vacationer. This time, it is most likely be for good and I’m grateful for your own commentary and viewpoint on different places and towns which provide an “off the beaten path” view of an area. Will follow your travels here!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Elio,
      Many thanks for taking the time to provide me with feedback but also sharing your story. I try to always represent an honest and objective view in my articles so that my readers know what can happen, whether good or bad. I don’t believe in sugar-coating words.

      So many people immigrated from Italy after WWII, especially from Calabria as of course, there wasn’t any food here – Italians left their home and security for the unknown.

      Good luck with your move and let me know how it goes.



  3. I just discovered your blog. My ancestors came from Montegiordano in Cosenza, Calabria. I hope to be able to visit where they came from one day! I often wonder if I have any relatives still there! I look forward to reading about your travels!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Nancy! Many thanks for stopping by and leaving me your comment – much appreciated.

      It’s amazing the number of relatives I’ve met coming out of the woodworks since living in Cosenza. I haven’t visited Montegiordano and still have many areas of Calabria but also Italy to explore. Hope you make it to your ancestral village soon.

      I publish an article every week with free travel tips and at the moment finishing writing about travels in South America from 2011. Thanks again, Nilla

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother’s family is from Soverato, in Calabria, I have been there many times. I absolutely love it there, the beachs, the people , and the food is to die for. At night the lights from the little towns in the surrounding mountains make for spectacular photos. I could live there!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good one. I continually heard similar questions when I landed by ferry in Palermo one February. I know Calabria a little bit. I spent time with friends who lived in mountains around Lagonegro in Basilicata and we visited the coast. Calabria and its people are unique.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Moving post! I enjoyed your family connection and that your love of travel was inspired by the sacrifices and hopes of your family connection. You’ve completed a circle and are happy so why not Calabria? Keep discovering!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and happy that you enjoyed this post.
      Will keep discovering until I no longer can. 😉
      Just tried to leave you a comment on Crete but unable to as your comments may be turned off (unless that’s intentional).


  7. Really beautiful photos taken in Italy and Laos Nilla. I am here in Thakhek in Laos now, and its really powerful to capture great photos that can cause people to think more and understand the lives of people in a completely different part of the world from them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lydia!
      Thank you for the kind feedback and many thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Lucky you, in Thakhek at the moment – loved this spectacular region of Laos.
      More people should travel to hopefully open their eyes.


  8. Loved this post. As a photographer living in Italy, I’m
    curious to know where you had your photographs printed. I’m looking for a reputable place but don’t really have other photographer friends here to ask. I would be grateful to know.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Lovely reading about Calabria! Originally from Italy myself I moved to Australia a few years ago but I still feel the pull back to my mother land. We’re going to visit Calabria, among other regions, in our upcoming trip to southern Italy. I can’t wait!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lovely post sweetie 🙂 We have never been to Calabria, but Italy is definitely one of our favourite countries in the world! We love off-the-beaten places and trip to southern Italy sound like an excellent idea 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Had to look it up as I’ve never heard of Pianopoli. I see it’s west of Lamezia.
      Thanks for the lesson and will have to stop by there when I next rent a car – public transport isn’t the best in Calabria.


    1. That’s a hard one as each time I visit a new city, it becomes my favourite. Just got back from 4 days in Sulmona in Abruzzo – wow, spectacular!
      No, I can’t leave you a comment, may be you have comments turned off?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. oh you do love italy to go back every time! So glad to hear it 😀 Abruzzo is a good region. Interesting you went for small cities! I believe sometimes they are real hidden treasures.
      p.s. wierd, have you tried to actually go my website and post a comment? I use wordpress.org which is different than wordpress.com

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I am so happy that you are where your father hailed from and I am sure, like you say, he would be happy that you are back in his homeland! You certainly are well travelled and I love reading about your stories, travels and getting to know you more. You are one of life’s true inspirations! 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Gill for such lovely feedback!

      What I really aspire to do is help people to get off the security couch and not be scared to explore new or unusual destinations.
      Still have too many places to see in the world… 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, it’s just a snippet of my family’s background. I have to revisit the State Archives here in Cosenza to do more research on my father’s family. I wrote a post on the incredible unsung work that the State Archives does here in this city as just felt this needed to be told and many locals had no idea.

      I have to research my mother’s side, which is far more difficult and tumultuous as her family arrived to Australia as DPs in the early 1950s. Planning a trip to Rijeka (Croatia) to do some research but not sure where to start yet.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I started doing a little research on my mother’s family back in 2009. As I was working full time in Australia, it was hard to get any information from anywhere.

      Over the years, I’ve done snippets of research here and there but nothing major. I paid for my mother’s family’s health records (39 pages) documented prior to their entry to Australia, which the Australian National Archives held.

      I’ve also emailed the International Tracing Services several times and have another query with them at the moment. As this organisation receives millions of requests each year, it can take up to 12 months to receive any information if at all, so it’s very time-consuming and very slow.

      It’s a personal interest as I would like to know what happened to my mother’s family prior to going to Australia. The family never spoke about their experience and if brought up, created all sorts of arguments. Each family member that dies takes a piece of our history with them and as remaining survivors won’t discuss this history, my only solution is to research everything myself.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. This is great timing Nilla. I am on the lookout for a place to stay in Calabria later in the year when we head to Italy. Will be driving from Rome to Sicily and wanted to break the journey. Last time we stopped at Briatico, near Tropea. But seeing it will be winter was not sure if a costal spot would be recommended.
    I am looking at Pizzo or Maratea?? What do you suggest?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi, lucky you going on a wonderful road trip!

      I’ve only been to Pizzo on a day trip, which is a lovely town – I still need to write about Pizzo in the coming weeks. I haven’t been to Maratea but do hear good feedback from locals about this town.
      Scalea is also lovely with friendly locals, which is south of Maratea. As it’s winter, it just depends on what accommodation is available to you but you should get good deals.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Both Pizzo and Scalea are great stops and it just depends on how far north you want to break up the trip.
      Pizzo isn’t a long drive from Sicily really and Scalea is almost a half-way point from Sicily, so a couple of choices, but not sure how long you want to drive for before you take a break.

      How long is your road trip for this time?

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Yes. That’s what I’m in the middle of planning. We only wanted to stop one or two nights before we got to Sicily. I haven’t seen very much of Calabria before so I am thinking 2 nights at two different stops may be good allowing time to explore neighbouring towns of these stops.
      Lots of research, which is fun. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

    4. Sounds like a great idea and always fun researching new places. I’ve written around 47 posts on Italy and many on Calabria, which may help.
      If you decide to stop in Cosenza, we should catch up for a coffee/vino.

      For how long is your road trip?

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Wonderful to read, and yes, I’m sure your father would be thrilled to know you are here. We ( British born in London) are always quizzed as to why we would want to retire here (Belvedere Marritimo) and we try to explain that to us, this is paradise but they look incredulous and think we’re clearly nuts!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Jacqui, thank you for the great feedback.

      I shared this on a FaceBook expat site today and was hammered for writing this post as a positive experience. The young chap said that I was misleading people, telling half-truths, and that I don’t have any ethics, oh and accused me of having a big ego. Quite scathing comments on social media. I don’t mind constructive criticism whether good or bad, but unfounded and personal attacks on my character aren’t acceptable so I stopped responding.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Each to their own. I suggested that if he hates Italy so much then perhaps this country isn’t for him.

      I’d love to get rid of my FB pages as it’s a waste of valuable time, but the consensus is to have a FB business page and without a profile page, you can’t have a business page. Anyway, onwards and upwards – I’ll keep writing my experiences whether good or bad.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Valerie and happy you enjoyed this post.
      I’ve yet to research my mother’s side, which is much harder as she was from the north and I don’t have much information about her life in Italy.

      Liked by 3 people

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