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Come Home To Calabria!

It's no secret that Calalbria is a secret. By that I mean that tourism in Calabria is…sparse. Few travellers find their way to the toe of the Italian boot, going no further than Naples and the Amalfi Coast. "Why go to Calabria"? What's there"?


However, an increasingly popular and a potent form of tourism now must be acknwledged, one called “Roots Tourism”. This connotes a genealogical aspect and the discoveries of ones lineage. The Calabrian diaspora is vast and is spread world-wide. The allure of "the old country" can be very compelling, especially if you were fortunate enough to have been raised in an enclave of Italians.


On a personal note, that would describe me and my first visit to Calabria. I had a strong desire to walk the same country roads that my grandfather walked as a young man. Before, of course, he emmigrated to America. I didnt look for any living relatives, but documents that were helpful to my search..


Each time I came back to Calabria, though, it was because of the people I had met and had grown increasingly close to. I felt connected and at home. I went looking for my connection to my past and found a future that changed my life.


There's another form of tourism that is also growing in acceptance and poplarity. It's called "Experiential Tourism”. In Italy, we saw the beginnings of this movement in what is known as “Agriturismo”, or Agricultural Tourism. Small, family-owned farms are nourished by the Italian government if they accept outside guests wanting to take part in a day-in-the life on an Italian farm.


Savvy travellers today aren’t in the same hurry that they were before the world shut down. They want to take the time to savor, to delve, to Connect. They are willing to slow down, simplify and really get to know a place.


Again, I ask the readers forgiveness for my interrupting and making this about me, but, I, consider myself to be the template for that kind of traveller and the road I took to be writing this, is one that anyone can walk. There"s only one rule. Be open.


Warmth brings warmth. Show a little, get a lot. Granted, that applies to everywhere one travels, but the big-hearted generosity of friendship, of kinship, is a trait even the snooty Northern Italians have to acknowledge. Yes, Calabrians have hard heads, but the size of their hearts absolutely makes up for any perceive shortcoming. I like to tell myself that sometimes, being stubborn is a Good thing. Sometimes.


I'm a former restaurant owner, known to some, in the city of Seattle. I love to cook and have an italian food origin story that wraps around my grandmothers kitchen and the holiday meals the clan shared at her dining room table. Just like every great chef I ever worked with, Grandma (nonna) was the catylyst, the foundation, the spark. Grandma+Food=Love.


Knowing what I know ands who I know, I've committed myself to Founding and Directing a Calabrian-based cooking school (scuola di cucina), located in the Chestnut tree-covered hills west of Cosenza, in a small village called Marano Marchesato. Again, a personal note: My grandfather (nonno) was born in this very village in 1881.


I am partnering with several business owners in the village to provide lodging and classroom/cooking facilities. These are all people I've come to know and respect over many visits. In some instances, I am accepted in to their large family and treated like a respected and beloved uncle (Zio).


There's a suprise element to our school that I'm convinced will ring true to the traveller looking for the most authentic and immersive culinary and cultural expereince imaginable. Our school "La Cuoca Calabrese - School of Calabrian Cooking", will be taught exclusively by local grandmothers (Nonne Calabresi).


Grandmothers are the Keepers of the Flame. They pass along the cooking techniques and traditions. In every culture, grandma is the most revered. Who better to learn from? Each one of our nonne has been asked to teach her specialty.


Often, we consider certain foods to be "traditional" when they are attached to specific religous holidays. Everyone brings out their A material for the holidays. Students will learn how AND why. We’ll talk about origins and the many influences in Calabrian cooking. Every nonna has her own time-tested way of doing things and that includes her choice of tools. Trust me when I say that Calabrians are a resourceful and a creative people.


In the quest for "authenticty", I may remind that Nothing is more authentic than a Calabrian grandmother.


Of course, before you cook, you have to shop and our guide and translator will take students on tours of local markets, farms, vineyards and specialty shops. The bounty of Calabria is a feast for your eyes as well as your palate and students will experience the richness of this bounty with every whiff, with every bite. Farm to table may be a slogan in America, biut it is a fact of life for many, many Calabrians. Everybody "knows a guy". Eating is fun and Calabrians take their fun seriously.


Lastly, student lodging is as unique as the teachers. One of our principles now operates his family's 400 year old Palazzo and converted it into a fantastic B & B. He and his brother have even added several modern, well-equipped treehouses in the family orchard/olive grove.


If you’re of Calabrian-descent, then this is a guaranteed way to be part of handing down traditions and perhaps a bit of family lore. If your lineage is from elsewhere, the embrace you’ll feel from the people you’llmeet will make you think you’re Calabrian.


Ciao.

To learn more: lacuocacalabrese.com

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Hie,my name is Arthur from Malawi and Italy has been my favorite place to visit due to its historical artifacts and strong culture.I would like to visit Italy if I can find someone who can offer me a job in any field i.e farming, construction or factory work.I will appreciate if I can be invited by someone which will make my Visa application easier. My email address is arthurdvn@gmail.com and my WhatsApp number is +265999584831. Thanks in advance.

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