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If a Vespa-riding, siesta-loving, unapologetically chaotic Italy still exists, it's in Calabria. Rocked by recurrent earthquakes and lacking a Matera or Lecce to give it high-flying tourist status, this is a corner of Italy less globalised and homogenised. Its wild mountain interior and long history of poverty, Mafia activity and emigration have all contributed to its distinct culture. Calabria is unlikely to be the first place in Italy you'd visit. But if you’re intent on seeing a candid and uncensored version of la dolce vita that hasn’t been dressed up for tourist consumption, look no further, ragazzi (guys).

Calabria’s gritty cities are of patchy interest. More alluring is its attractive Tyrrhenian coastline, broken by several particularly lovely towns (Tropea and Scilla stand out). The mountainous centre is dominated by three national parks, none of them particularly well explored. Its museums, collecting the vestiges of a rich classical past are probably its greatest treasure.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Calabria.