La Cuoca Calabrese – Blog #6
Getting in and out of Calabria
When most North American tourists visit Italy, they have a checklist of cities they’ve dreamed of visiting and want badly to check that box. Totally understandable. Totally regrettable.
This is the nature of being a “tourist”. There are a lot of forces at play. Limited time, limited money, limited understanding of the alternatives. Plus, a tourist’s friends, back home, who’ve all shared their advice, are eager to hear your own stories and impressions and whether you took their advice or ignored it. That’s a lot of pressure. We think we’ve found a better way to experience Italy. We feel, strongly that we are the antidote to the overstuffed tourist itinerary
What separates a “tourist” from a “traveler” is a willingness to look beyond the expected places and perhaps happen upon something unexpected. Something a little more mysterious. something that allows for genuine connected to place and people. Something wonderful and genuine.
Calabria represents that opportunity. Its beyond most tourist’s experience in Italy. It’s not on everyone’s radar. Tourists don’t go to Calabria…but, travelers do. What travelers find is something beyond authenticity. Calabria a little wild and a little mysterious. And, it’s not on the beaten path. For the traveler, this is a blessing. It means you’re out of the hordes, away from the establishments who print their menu in English. You’re among people with little to no artifice. Genuine to a fault. “Ferociously hospitable” as Stanley Tucci remarked.
Getting in and out of Calabria is pretty straight-forward. Train, plane or automobile. Many people visit Naples, Pompeii and perhaps the Amalfi Coast. From Naples, trains run to Reggio and the ferry to Sicily. For our students, getting off at PAOLA is the way to go. We’ll be there to pick you up and drive the short distance to the school. The train runs along the Tyrhennian Sea and is spectacular.
If you’re in Rome or further north, Lamezia International Airport is an hour and change of flight time. Again, for our students, we’ll be there to gather you and your luggage up for the 1-hour beautiful drive back to the school.
For a car, I use Hertz in either Lamezia, at the airport, or in Rende, near Cosenza and the school. Mention us at either location. They like us. I’ve also driven the 6 hours between Rome and Cosenza and it was an easy drive. They don’t know us in Rome, so you’re on your own there. Be prepared for tolls and stay the hell out of the left lane. Seriously. Italian drivers do not play. When it comes to automobiles and highways, Italians have a different sense of personal space. Best to move to the right and take in the scenery. At roundabouts, the car on your left has the right-of-way.
I’ve driven my share in Italy and I know that there is one place I know I’ll never drive again. Naples. Down by the port, following google maps, street is torn up and its rush hour. It was literally liked someone kicked over an ant hill. No rules. Total anarchy. Shudder.