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The Surroundings

Calitri

Situated in the heart of Italy’s Campania region, at about an hour’s drive from Naples and its international airport, Calitri is a traditional Italian mountain village tucked up against the green slopes of a gentle rise. From here, the views are of rolling fields and pastures, green valleys cut by the nearby Ofanto River, and the forested hills and mountains of the Neapolitan Apennines.

The village itself is characterised by the tightly packed pastel-coloured houses of the old quarter, which appears to drape off a hillside. Set within a peaceful agricultural region that produces the classic ingredients of a delicious local cuisine, Calitri is also surrounded by history, culture, nature and the bustle of nearby Naples. Dotted within this green landscape are scores of charming villages, archaeological ruins, nature reserves and, of course, the Mediterranean coastline to explore.

The famous Amalfi coast, with Salerno, Positano, Sorrento and the Isle of Capri, is about an hour away, while in winter the s ki resort of Laceno brings winter sports to also within an hour’s reach. Other attractions in the area include Vesuvius and Pompei, while the open beaches of the Adriatic are a little over an hour away. Closer by are the woodlands of Melfi and the volcanic lakes of Rionero in Vulture. With all of this within such close range, Calitri offers the flavours and sights of the real Italy accompanied by beach, ski slopes and a host of activities.

Gastronomy

The flavours of Italy’s famous kitchen come together in the abundant produce of this rural area with its rich agricultural tradition. Fertile black soil – enriched by ancient lava flows – and a favourable climate make this part of Campania a veritable breadbasket.

Fields of wheat form the basis for delicious locally baked bread and pastries, pastures for gorgeous varieties of cheese, while the vineyards of the region produce anything from local table wines to prized Greco di Tufo and Lacryma Cristi del Vesuvio vintages.

From the forests and groves come chestnuts, walnuts, almonds, truffles and olives. The vegetables, tomatoes, beans, fruit and meats found in local shops and markets are the fresh, traditionally produced basis of a resurgence in Cucina Povera cuisine.

Shopping for food here is a pleasure, and the beautiful, natural ingredients make cooking easy. Besides fine dining restaurants such as La Locanda dell’Arco in Calitri’s Palazzo, and local ostelerias such as Tre Rose, also look out for Agriturismo – country restaurants like the Valle Ofanto that serve the finest local produce according to Slow Food principles.

There are regular food and wine festivals in the region, but do take a peek at the charming grottos of Calitri’s old quarter, where local varieties of cheese and sausage are cured.

Art & Culture

From the artists’ studios in Calitri’s old Borgo to the many magnificent churches, castles and museums dotted around the region, this is an area abundant in art and culture. While other towns specialise in lace, wood or wickerwork, Calitri is especially known for its ceramics.

Lovers of architecture will delight in masterpieces in Baroque, Renaissance, Neoclassical, Art Deco, Roman and medieval styles, while local festivals hold fast to religious, rural and sometimes downright quirky celebrations that go back centuries.

History & Sights

Although this is above all a Mediterranean culture, it has been invaded and influenced by a huge mix of people, including the Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Lombards, Ostrogoths and Normans. This incredible mix is visible not only in the people themselves, but also in the many well-preserved castles, cathedrals, old towns and archaeological ruins.

Among the many amazing places to visit are, most famously, Pompei, but also Torre del Greco, Ercolano, Paestum, Benevento, Venosa, Anacapri, Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, the archaeological parks of Naples and the city itself.

Coastline

Just an hour from Calitri is some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the Mediterranean – where pretty resort towns like Amalfi and Positano cling to steep cliffs that plunge into the clear blue sea. The Riviera’s beauty has attracted Roman emperors, European aristocracy, modern celebs and luxury cruise ships in succession.

The narrow, winding coastal road gets very busy in summer, so take a coach or better still – a sea taxi that hugs the coastline from Salerno to Positano. For an equally spectacular ride, take a ferry from Sorrento to the island of Capri or across to Ischia.

The Adriatic, on the other hand, lies a little over an hour north and northeast of Calitri, where resort areas and open beaches stretch between the coastal Parco Nazionale del Gargano and the old port town of Bari. Don’t miss the local seafood!

Nature

There are a great many natural parks and protected areas in this region, containing mountain ranges, forests, coastal areas and lakes, but for lovers of nature even the local countryside offers beautiful surroundings in which to walk, hike or cycle.

The Lago di Conza, a large lake situated about 10 minutes west of Calitri, is an important breeding point for many bird species. The site contains a WWF information centre and bird watching facilities, as well as a lakeside picnic area. Calitri’s own Bosco di Zampaglione is an area of undulating forest and fields on a former hunting estate, while the protected area of Naples’ Mount Vesuvius is of particular interest.

Activities

These include hiking, biking, rock climbing and fishing in the inland areas, and water sports such as windsurfing along the Adriatic coast in particular. However, you’ll also find the opportunity to hang glide from places such as Cairano (a village 5 min from Calitri).

Venture a little over an hour southwest, in the hills between Potenza and Matera, where daredevils can be harnessed to a pulley and glide at high speed along a 1.5km long line with a valley far below. Other activities in the region include sports such as golf, for which there are 7 courses in the greater area, the ski resort of Laceno and a variety of natural baths and spa resorts.

Greater area

Good roads and rail connections mean Calitri can also be a base for further exploration that encompasses the charming dome-roofed trulli houses of Puglia, the unexplored coastline and villages of Basilicata, the famous sights of Rome or the gorgeous nature of the Abruzzo region. In all, this is Italy at its most authentic.


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