The unsung regions of Italy – and why you should head south for an authentic escape
Options for visiting Tropea, Calabria’s most attractive resort town, include an escorted group tour with Newmarket Holidays, which offers an eight-day trip from a hotel just north of the old town from €772 £pp, half board, return flight to Lamezia, transfers and excursions to major Calabrian towns, such as Gerace, Locri, Cosenza and Reggio di Calabria, and an optional boat trip to the Aeolian Islands (newmarketholidays.co .uk).
Citalia can create tailor-made packages for Tropea and beyond, with a choice of two high-end hotels in the town, one of which, the four-star Hotel Tirreno, is close to beautiful Contura Beach. Alternatively, Citalia offers two hotels in Ricadi, a quieter center on Capo Vaticano to the south. Seven nights at the Tirreno cost from £1,225 in June; four nights at the Tirreno followed by three nights at the Baia del Godano Resort in Ricadi cost from £1,299. Both prices include B&B, transfers and flights from Gatwick (citalia.com).
Late summer sun
Calabria is a good way south; not far enough south for winter sun, perhaps, but certainly at a latitude that provides warmth when the autumn chill begins to set in in the UK. Average temperatures in October, for example, are 73 F (23 C). Tui offers packages to five Calabrian coastal centres, including seven all-inclusive nights in Pizzo on the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria (30 minutes from Lamezia airport), from £664 pp, including flights to departure from Gatwick on October 1 (tui.co.uk).
The Romans called it “Campania felix”, or the “happy land”, inspired by its beauty and fertility, but visitors to Campania today know and see virtually nothing of the region beyond the tour well worn from Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
On the contrary, Amalfi and Pompeii have too many visitors, although Naples is often shunned by those happy to indulge in Rome, Florence or Venice, discouraged by a reputation – less deserved these days – of being busy and sometimes spoiled .
In truth, it is brimming with character, gastronomy (it is the birthplace of pizza, after all), sublime Baroque churches, the Palazzo Reale (palazzorealedinapoli.org), with masterpieces by Raphael, Michel- Ange, Botticelli and others, and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (mann-napoli.it), one of the largest museums in Europe.
In short, perfect for a city break or as part of a longer trip, but if you must visit the Amalfi Coast, about an hour away by road, train or ferry, stay in quieter villages such as Vettica, Praiano or Maiori, and pass away from the crowds in the Lattari Mountains above the coast. And visit the islands of Ischia and Procida rather than Capri.