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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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).
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.
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.