Ceraudo’s Insider Guide to Calabria, Italy

For the ultimate under-the-radar Italian sojourn, we’re heading south with Ceraudo founders and interiors aficionados, Emily and Victoria Ceraudo, to Italy’s toe of Calabria.

sisters, who are half-Italian, founded their eponymously named
interiors brand in 2016. The initial aim was to source one-off
vintage and antique items from across the continent, offering
buyers decorative pieces at affordable prices. Running the gamut
from art-deco lemonade sets to Louis XVI-style mahogany bouillotte
tables and dinky, floral-print ottomans, its collections are full
of “vita”.

Venturing to the very tiptoe of Italy (along with the
in-the-know Milanese
and Roman set renting coastal hideaways), Calabria is a mash-up as
beguiling as the antique and contemporary furniture and accessories
that Ceraudo sources and curates. Here the pair pen their most
treasured spots along the stretch of coastline that straddles both
the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas.

The best time to visit Calabria is…

or early September
to avoid the summer crush of Italian holidaymakers. It still has a
summer buzz but isn’t quite so crowded. If any earlier or later,
the area will be very sleepy.

What’s the best way to explore the region?

Definitely by car; there aren’t many options when it comes to
public transport, unfortunately. However, this does make the area
feel a bit more special. Our first trip to Calabria involved a few
train journeys, which was lovely and felt like we’d stepped back in
time, though it wasn’t particularly fast.

How would you characterise Calabria?

It’s off the beaten track compared to the rest of Italy (which
is why we love it). There are hardly any tourists and it’s abundant
with remote hilltop towns, beautiful countryside and coastlines,
and simple but amazing food. Everything is also very reasonably

What’s your relationship to the region?

Our father’s family is from a small hilltop town, Petilia
Policastro in the Crotone province.

Must visit cities or towns in Calabria include…

Our top three towns are Tropea, Pizzo and Scilla.

Tropea is the most popular due to its dramatic headland position
overlooking the volcanic island of Stromboli on the Costa degli Dei
(Coast of the Gods). It also hosts a yearly blues festival when the
town really comes alive. The town is a maze of alleyways, faded
palazzi, little restaurants and boutiques, all of which lead
towards a dramatic cliff face that drops down to the
crescent-shaped beach.

Another pretty seaside town is Pizzo. Make sure you order the
tartufo di Pizzo, a chocolate-and-hazelnut ice cream ball, filled
with warm chocolate – it looks like a black truffle, hence the
name. The THIRD must-see town is the beautiful small fishing
village of Scilla. It is traditionally the home of Homer’s sea
monster Scylla who, along with Charybdis (over the sea towards
Sicily), guarded the narrow Strait of Messina and menaced Odysseus
as he sailed by. Scilla is renowned for its swordfish and it’s
common to see the fleet of boats arriving back to town with the
day’s catch.

The best place to wake up is…

Our favourite hotel is
Praia Art Resort
in Capo Rizzuto. It’s in the next village from
our family’s holiday house, and has a beautiful private beach
(which is like gold dust in Italy). It feels both beachy and
luxurious at the same time, and also has a Michelin-starred

What’s Calabria’s dress code?

Very casual. However, a Saturday evening in Tropea could warrant
a little dressing up.

Food spots we should try…

Ristorante San Domenico in Pizzo and Incipit Restaurant in Tropea.

Must-try local dishes include…

It has to be a dish with ‘nduja (Calabrian spicy sausage) as the
main ingredient. It’s becoming more popular in the UK, but we would
strongly recommend trying it in its birthplace. Baccala alla
calabrese (one of our Nonna’s specialities) is a traditional
Calabrian dish of dried and salted cod in a delicious stew of
tomatoes, potatoes and olives. Another dish that is normally
reserved for special occasions (we used to have it on New Year’s
Day) is Calabria’s version of lasagne. This much more decadent
version of the classic anglicised lasagne has meatballs, pecorino
and provolone cheese, hard-boiled eggs, prosciutto cotto and no
bechamel. It might be hard to find on a menu, but if you do see it,
order it!

Where should we go for a low-key lunch?

The Ceraudo estate in Strongoli has a fantastic restaurant
called Dattilo by Caterina Ceraudo (they are distant relatives).
The restaurant itself is fine dining, but the overall feel of its
surrounds is quite low-key. Its charming, family-run organic
vineyard is a must if you are in this part of Calabria. Contact
Susi (one of the daughters) ahead of your visit to arrange a
tasting and make a reservation at the restaurant. The estate would
be a beautiful wedding venue; it has a really sweet little on-site
chapel and a few guest rooms.

Great day trips include…

You can do a day trip from Reggio Calabria across the Strait of
Messina to
. The ferry port is close to Taormina, which is Sicily’s
most picturesque town.

Local markets you’d recommend…

The antiques markets in Cosenza, Crotone and Reggio Calabria are
must-visits at the weekend. There’s also a specialist art market
held in Soverato once a month.

Best places for interiors inspiration…

Peeking into some of the faded palazzi of Tropea.

For some culture, head to…

Stilo, Calabria’s prettiest hamlet and recently voted as one of
Italy’s most beautiful places. Don’t miss the Cattolica di Stilo, a
small Byzantine temple dating back to the 9th century and home to
11th-century frescos.

It’s also worth visiting the Riace bronzes in Reggio Calabria.
These Greek statues of warriors can be traced back to 450 BCE and
were only found on the seabed by a holidaying diver in the 70s –
they’re now amongst Italy’s most valued treasures.

And for nature…

Head up into the Aspromonte mountains, where you can go biking,
skiing or canyoning. It has incredible 360-degree views that
stretch to Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands. It’s also home to
wolves – you’re unlikely to see any, but you can hear them howling
at night. Aspromonte is one of the few areas in the world where the
bergamot orange fruit is cultivated. With its distinct fragrance,
the fruit gets its name from the Turkish word “bey armudu”, which
translates as the “prince’s pear”, inspired by its shape. Danny
Boyle’s BBC series Trust, about John Paul Getty’s kidnapping, is filmed
in Calabria’s many mountainous regions and national parks.

Best beaches…

Scilla’s Costa Viola; it’s all in the name. The water has violet
hues at a certain time of day. Tropea’s crescent-shaped beach is
also beautiful, though it can get busy.

Where should we head on a Saturday morning?

La Castella, on the southern coast, is a pretty village with
what looks like a giant sandcastle perched on the waterfront. The
story of the castle is that it used to face the island of Ogygia,
where the nymph Calypso was exiled in Homer’s Odyssey, as well as
the small archipelago (now gone) to which it belonged.

One place only locals know about is…

A very hidden Max Mara Outlet near Lamezia.

One misconception about Calabria is…

The fact that Calabria is a relatively unknown destination
outside of Italy is a blessing and a curse. It means that it
doesn’t really suffer from misconceptions, but nor does it benefit
from the tourist dollars it deserves. The region has an untouched
beauty that is hard to find and offers a completely different pace
to Italy’s better-known north. It really is like stepping back in

A book to read before we go?

By the Olive Groves:
A Calabrian Childhood
by Grazia Ietto-Gillies.

What one thing should we bring back as a souvenir?

A jar of ‘nduja or a string of Calabria’s famous peperoncino. If
you want a kitsch souvenir, find a ceramic chilli.

Discover More
Eight Unique Italian Hotels to Book for Summer