It doesn’t always get a good press, Calabria, that rocky toecap of Italy that looks ready to drop-kick Sicily right between the Balearics. In Roman times Virgil claimed that “the entire Calabrian coast is inhabited by evil Greeks”. Over the ensuing centuries it has earned a reputation for malaria, mafia and murderous earthquakes.

tropea photo

Photo by kawa0711

Later writers have been equally unkind, in Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped At Eboli, Calabria is described as “that other world, hedged in by custom and sorrow . . . where the peasant lives out his motionless civilisation on barren ground, in remote poverty, and in the presence of death”.

Fantastic, right? Even more reassuringly, I can see exactly what Levi means by the presence of death. I’m in a car driven by…

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Photo by CRUSTINA!