6 reasons to visit Calabria in winter

Visiting Calabria in winter? A great idea for those who want to enjoy all the most evocative (and perhaps least known) nuances of this region!

For most travellers, visiting Calabria is an activity to be organised exclusively during the warm season, amidst white sandy beaches, seaside villages and warm sunny landscapes populated by vines and citrus groves. This is because we are used to imagining Calabria as an exclusively summer destination, but this is not the case!

Here, history, art, age-old traditions and gastronomy feed the life of villages and towns and the mountains all year round. These, if in summer they are splendid unspoilt paradises, during the winter they are covered in snow, transforming into snow-white scenery, ready to welcome travellers keen on sports and winter walks.

Here then are 6 good reasons to visit Calabria in winter:

Sila National Park
The Park, named after the mountain range of the same name, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to hosting a varied ecosystem of great beauty (we find the wolf, symbol of the park, fallow deer, deer, etc.), here it is possible to go trekking and skiing or snowshoeing while enjoying the snow-white landscape and breathing clean air.

2.Riace Bronzes in Reggio Calabria
Reggio Calabria is home to the National Archaeological Museum, one of Italy's most important museums dedicated to Magna Graecia. This is definitely a place not to be missed, especially for lovers of history and culture, who will be able to admire the Bronzes, probable Greek originals dating back to the fifth century B.C.

Some villages in Calabria are small universes to be discovered. Here the gastronomy is genuine, the local communities hospitable and everything seems immersed in an ancient dimension, where values and traditions have remained unchanged over the centuries. Just in the province of Reggi Calabria there are three that are absolutely not to be missed and they are Gerace, Bova and Stilo (the latter is also famous for its characteristic Cattolica, a small and evocative Byzantine church dating back to the 10th century. There are also many other small villages to discover, such as Morano Calabro,Bandiera arancione and Borgo tra i più belli d'Italia. This village has an unmistakable shape (it spreads out like a ribbon that wraps itself around the height of a hill) and its silhouette, which in winter resembles that of a perched nativity scene) is impossible to forget!

Pollino National Park
It is the largest national park in Italy and a Unesco World Heritage site, encompassing several municipalities and stretching between Basilicata and Calabria. If you love winter sports and have decided to visit Calabria in winter, you can enjoy skiing and snowshoeing. These sports will take you to scenic spots where you can admire boundless views, whitewashed nature and the gigantic Loriccio pines (the symbol of the place) covered in snow.

5. Food and wine tours
Food and wine do not go on holiday! All year round in Calabria good food and excellent wine are present on the tables of every town and small village. But if you visit Calabria in winter, you will discover that it is precisely in this period, and particularly in the mountain centres, that we find the richest and most full-bodied dishes made with the genuine products offered by the local gastronomy. Meat processing in Calabria is a must: beef, pork and mutton to be eaten roasted, stewed or as a condiment for excellent sauces for handmade pasta are a real speciality. The Caciocavallo Silano deserves a taste, as does the Pecorino cheese from Monte Poro,  the salted ricottathe pecorino by first salt. La Nduja Spreadwith the capocollo and the  sopressataare inevitable on rustic chopping boards, accompanied by local wines that will enhance every flavour note.

6. Travel inspirations
There are plenty of travel inspirations and suggestions to suit all types of travellers. Any ideas? Visit our packages at www.lovesouthitaly.it

In Calabria, soppressata is PDO

One of the foods that many southern Italian regions have in common is soppressata. We find it in Campania, Apulia and Basilicata, but it is in Calabria that soppressata acquires the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) mark, signifying that it has a certain specificity in this region.

The production of soppressata in Calabria and throughout southern Italy is a centuries-long tradition that is lost among the ancient trades of yesteryear. We have to wait until 1691 to have one of the first concrete testimonies that tells us about this particular salume: we find it in the work Of Calabria Illustratedwhere Father Giovanni Fiore from Cropani lists, among the salted meats, those that were processed 'into Lardi, into Salsicci, into Suppressate, and similar'.

Why is soppressata called this?

The name, as is easy to imagine, originates from the pressing action that is performed when the sausage is being dried, to give it a flattened shape. The term itself, then, undergoes slight changes depending on the region in which we find ourselves. In the luca.no dialect, for example, we say 'subbursata' or 'soperzata', while in Apulia 'sebbursète'.

Processing of soppressata

The processing involves the use of fresh meat from pig obtained from the finest cuts, such as shoulder, thigh and fillet. There is also a fat part, consisting of lard in a percentage varying from 4 to 15% per kilogram of meat. The meat is cut into coarse pieces using the famous knife-point technique, which keeps the portions fairly compact. Flavours and spices are added to the meat (in some cases hot chilli peppers are added) and the mixture is minced and then encased in a preferably natural casing, previously sterilised, and the whole is then tied with string for better sealing.


But the preparation of soppressata does not end there! As soon as it is made, in fact, it is subjected to a very important phase that will determine the final result: drying, which takes place according to very precise standards. First of all light, or rather darkness: drying must take place in an unlit environment. Then, the time: the process takes from 3 to 12 weeks, depending on the weight, diameter and result to be obtained (the PDO soppressata di Calabria requires a seasoning of at least 45 days).

Strict rules:

In order for soppressata di Calabria to have the PDO mark, there are very precise rules to follow, from the choice of meat to the drying method. Would you like to know some of them?

  1. Soppressata di Calabria must be obtained from the processing of meat from pigs born in the territory
    from the regions of Calabria, Basilicata, Sicily, Apulia and Campania and reared in the territory of the region
    Calabria from the maximum age of four months.

2. Slaughter and processing must take place on Calabrian territory.

3. The average batch weight of the pigs at slaughter must be no less than 140 kg.

These are just some of the rules, and you can also find the others online at the product specification.

But let's come to the most interesting part: how to eat soppressata?
Perfect as an appetiser on a board of cold meats and cheese, it is excellent accompanied by seasoned homemade bread and local pickled oils. The wine to choose should be medium-bodied (like an Aglianico, for example) or it could be replaced by a light lager or even a double malt, for a more substantial combination.

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