An ancient land of hospitality (xenia), Calabria will win you over with the charm of its folk, linguistic and religious traditions, proudly preserved by three different ethnic minorities: the Italo-Albanians (Arbëreshë) between the provinces of Cosenza and Catanzaro, the Waldesian-Occitans of Guardia Piemontese (CS) and the ancient Grecanica community of Bovesìa, along the Ionian coast of Reggio Calabria.
Not to be missed are the rituals of the historical-religious tradition, first and foremost the procession of the Varia di Palmi, RC (in August), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borrowed from the Messina rite, it is one of the world's most astonishing processions of "large machines on shoulders".
One of the most characteristic periods to visit Calabria is from February to April: starting with the great Historical Carnivals, from the Carnival of Castrovillari to the Carnival of Alessandria del Carretto - both in the Cosentino area - and arriving at the rites of Holy Week in Calabria, one more evocative than the other, particularly those of the arbëreshë communities (valljet), the vattiènti of Nocera (CZ) and Verbicaro (CS) and the persephonis on Palm Sunday in Bova (RC).
Among the great festivals that invite you to Calabria all year round are the Peperoncino Jazz Festival (summer and touring), the literary festival Leggere&Scrivere (October, Vibo Valentia), the Magna Graecia Film Festival (July-August, Catanzaro).
If you love traditions linked to good food and ancient crafts, don't miss the Calabrian festivals - which make every season a delight to be savoured with all the senses - and the typical craft fairs.