Crotone is the archaeological gateway to Calabria: although the city has a modern outlook, it has preserved the history and the ancient treasures of what was once the famous Greek city of Kroton. Its seaside location makes it an ideal summer destination, but its centuries-old heritage makes it a city worth visiting at any time of year. In Crotone, visitors can discover the most important towns of Magna Graecia and follow in the footsteps of masters like Pythagoras who founded his school in the city. In the area of Capo Colonna, which is home to the Archaeological Park and the National Archaeological Museum of Crotone, the column of the temple dedicated to Hera Lacinia encapsulates the grandeur of Crotone’s past. Overlooking the city centre is the Castle of Charles V. This medieval fortress traces the outlines of the Greek Acropolis and provides the perfect viewpoint from which visitors can admire the city’s seafront, a long strip of modernity that hugs the contours of the sea and enhances its beauty and colours.
Along the Saracen Coast, in the province of Crotone, lies Le Castella, a tourist hotspot located within the Capo Rizzuto Marine Reserve. The jewel of the city is undoubtedly the 15th century Aragonese castle, built on an islet and connected to the shore by a thin strip of sand. It is said that the island of Calypso, as mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, refers to the surrounding areas of the present day village: Le Castella is, in fact, one of the three mythological Iapygian promontories known as Capo Rizzuto, Capo Cimiti and Le Castella, respectively. They were named after mythical Iapyx, son of Daedalus, who was one of the most talented artists of ancient Greece and who, according to legend, passed through the Calabrian territory.
Pecorino Crotonese PDO is a hard, semi-cooked cheese made exclusively from whole sheep's milk. Three different varieties of the cheese exist with each undergoing a different length of maturation: fresh, with a thin white or slightly straw-coloured rind and a strong, soft and slightly acidulous taste; semi-hard, with a balanced taste and a thick, brownish rind; mature (over 6 months of ageing), with a hard, brown rind, an intense flavour and a slightly spicy after-taste. It can be enjoyed as an appetiser, a cooking ingredient or served grated as an accompaniment to first courses.
Catanzaro, Cosenza, and Crotone are the three Calabrian provinces containing the green heart of Calabria: Sila National Park. Here you can take an almost mystical journey amidst the natural treasures and stunning scenery of the Calabrian plateau. The Park’s symbol is a wolf to signify its role as guardian of one of the most important areas of biodiversity. Extremely patient visitors may even be able to catch a glimpse of this creature within the protected forest. Another must-see attraction is the nature reserve of the Giants of Fallistro, a priceless example of Calabria’s natural heritage where visitors can marvel at the oldest and largest trees in Italy. Since 1920, artificial lakes have been created in Sila which integrate perfectly with the surrounding environment. Though initially built to generate hydroelectric power from the silane watercourses, over the years these lakes have become valuable tourist attractions. Among the most notable are Ampollino Lake, Lake Arvo and Cecita.
As we leave behind the high altitudes of Sila, we descend towards Cosenza, a culturally vibrant and constantly evolving city. Also known as The City of the Bruzi Family, Cosenza is characterised by ancient buildings, including, first and foremost, the Swabian Castle as well as the buildings in the historic centre along Corso Telesio, which was once the street of merchants and goldsmiths. This is where visitors will find the Duomo, which is recognised by UNESCO as a Heritage Witness to a Culture of Peace. The cultural wealth of Cosenza can also be experienced in Arnone Palace, which once served as a court and prison but now houses the National Gallery. But it’s not just inside the city’s buildings that the intellectual brilliance of Cosenza can be felt, it also permeates its outdoor areas. For instance, the Bilotti Open-Air Museum, which is sponsored by patrons of Cosenza, Carlo and Enzo Bilotti, extends along the length of the city’s main street, Corso Mazzini. Here, visitors can admire the works of great masters such as Dali, De Chirico and Sasha Sosno, as they amble through the street. The museum has evolved into a permanent outdoor exhibition and a symbol of the city.
A typical product of Southern Italy's cheese-making tradition, Caciocavallo Silano PDO can be distinguished by its oval shape which is round at the base and thinner towards the top. It has a pleasant, aromatic flavour and is generally quite sweet but becomes more intense and spicy with ageing. With its smooth and thin crust, Caciocavallo Silano PDO is a very adaptable cheese. It can be enjoyed on its own, cooked and even grilled or fried and is an ideal ingredient to enhance your recipes. The origin of the name probably comes from the method used to mature the cheese, which involves tying it to a beam in pairs which, in Italian, is referred to as ageing “a cavallo”.
The Sila PGI potato is prized for its excellent culinary qualities. Either round, round-oval or long oval in shape, it has a resistant skin thanks to the characteristics of the soil in which it is grown and the particular climatic conditions of the Silian plateau. Thanks to its high dry matter content and the excellent consistency of its flesh, it is ideal for frying. Sila PGI potatoes contain a higher than average amount of starch, giving them a higher nutritional value and a stronger taste.
With their characteristic elongated teardrop shape and golden colour, Figs of Cosenza PDO are dried fruits of the Dottato variety. The skin is initially straw green in colour before turning greenish yellow. Their flesh is amber-coloured, firm and slightly aromatic and they have a sweet, almost honeyed flavour. Thanks to their intense flavour they are ideal to eat on their own, however they are often used as ingredients in local recipes or stuffed with almonds and walnuts and covered with chocolate.