Nov 8, 2023 8:17 AM
Sport and nature
The Calabria Italia Trail, among the ministerial-approved Paths of Calabria, was created in 2022 involving the region's 3 national parks (Pollino, Sila and Aspromonte) and the Serre Regional Natural Park.
It is a 654 km-long path that runs along the entire Calabrian Apennine ridge in one large path, divided into 34 stages, connecting sea and mountains, villages, towns and provincial capitals.
The Calabria Italia Trail
The project that saw the birth of Calabria Italia Trail is a proposal for slow and eco-sustainable tourism, aimed at encompassing all Calabrian routes, even minor ones, in a single trail stage that crosses the region from north to south.
The length and articulation of a Calabrian path conceived in this way allow trekking enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the soul of an area rich in different naturalistic areas: from the most luxuriant forests to the valleys furrowed by the fiumare, passing through great monoliths, pastures, arable land and gentle gullies descending to the sea.
Covering the 34 planned stages, the walker crosses the Sila Plateau, the largest in Europe, among forests inhabited by the ancient Sila Wolf, canyons carved by torrents, waterfalls, prehistoric ferns and Mediterranean scrub.
We range from the large stones of the Pollino to those of Aspromonte, both UNESCO Geosites, passing from the Pino Loricato to the Capre Aspromontane; we linger in the dense Silver Fir forests of the Serre Vibonesi, traversed by Neolithic sites and traces of ancient crafts.
Each of the provinces and localities traversed offers the beauty of their hospitable communities, often counted among The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, where one can savour the charm of "slow living" as well as the typical cuisine of the Calabrian hinterland, once dictated by the rhythms of the farms, ovens and oil mills.
Places steeped in spirituality and mystery, born around monasteries, hermitages and pagan sites that still evoke forms of popular religiosity from the West and the East.
What to see along the route
The Calabria Italia Trail is a walk through 4 different nature areas, each with its own unmissable attractions.
It starts in the Pollino National Park, in the province of Cosenza, consisting of several massifs and characterised by a succession of rocky precipices, caves and gorges whose geological complexity makes it one of the UNESCO Global Geoparks, with flora and fauna unique in the Mediterranean.
An unmissable place to see along the way? The Romito Cave, in Papasidero, one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe, on whose walls an ancient bovine (Bos Primigenius) is engraved, an extraordinary testimony to rock art in Calabria.
Continuing in a southerly direction, the Calabria Italia Trail takes us to the heart of the Sila National Park, straddling the provinces of Cosenza, Catanzaro and Crotone, where one can breathe "the best air in Europe" and count some of Calabria's agrifood excellences, such as Caciocavallo Silano PDO and Patata della Sila PGI.
The so-called "Gran Bosco d'Italia", known and exploited since antiquity for its water reservoirs and its huge logs, when the Romans drew the ships of their invincible fleet from it, preserves traces of a millenary culture, which is still offered today in the beauty of the mountain villages and monasteries that enrich it.
Central stage of the Calabria Italia Trail, the lush Serre Regional Natural Park occupies the inland area of the province of Vibo Valentia.
From the summit of Monte Pecoraro, the mountain slopes down to a plateau that finds its "capital" in the Baroque jewel of the historic centre of Serra San Bruno, with its Charterhouse in the green.
Finally, arriving in the Aspromonte National Park, which extends across the entire province of Reggio Calabria, the Calabria Italia Trail descends from the summit of Montalto to its slopes, encountering the villages of the Grecanica area (an ethnic minority that speaks Greek of Calabria) and the "ghost towns", the Valley of the Great Stones with their legendary shapes, the Shrine of the Madonna di Polsi and many other paths, including literary ones, that cross a rich and still little-known territory.