Winter is perhaps the shortest season of the entire solar arc in this area of Calabria that encapsulates the villages of Stilo, Monasterace, Guardavalle, Badolato, Santa Caterina dello Ionio, Sant’Andrea Apostolo dello Ionio and, a little further north, San Floro. All face towards the Ionian Sea of this beautiful region, with the exception of San Floro, having an outlet in the Ionian Sea that makes this destination the perfect place for a beach holiday.
Us locals and our land know how to amaze. If you visit us in winter, you can grasp for yourself just how extraordinarily simple it is to enjoy a digital detox, a stone’s throw from the sea but immersed in the heart of a strong and often unspoilt nature of our villages, leading directly to the mountains of the Parco Naturale Regionale delle Serre (Natural Regional Park of Serre). The beach may not be as inviting as it is during the summer but is not without a unique charm, given that – as you will discover – the Riviera e Borghi degli Angeli offers a plethora of things to do even during this unusual season.
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Things to do in Calabria during the Winter
Whilst the beach activities are unavailable during this period, the same cannot be said of the experiential and cultural offerings that our destination has to offer to visitors seeking to disconnect from the daily grind. Our nature is lush, inviting each person to rediscover their true spirit as an explorer, best approached with great care and always accompanied by expert guides on any excursions during the winter months.
Winter is the perfect season to dive into the culture of this land! Not to be missed is the Archaeological Museum of Monasterace safeguarding the famous Kaulon Dragon mosaic. Just a few kilometres from here is the must-visit village of Stilo, where you can see the house in which the philosopher Tommaso Campanella was born and the Castello, along with the many historic churches. The highlight however is the splendid Cattolica di Stilo, an incredible remnant from the Byzantine past of these lands. Further north, coming into the province of Catanzaro, are some great indoor activities including a visit to the Ancient Scolacium Archaeological Museum in Squillace and the Franciscan Convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli in that of Badolato. Last but not least, make sure you schedule a visit to Il Nido di Seta cooperative in the small town of San Floro, where not only can you discover how one of the finest fabrics is traditionally worked, you can also visit the Silk Museum within the Castello Caracciolo.
In short, there are many things to do during a rather unique holiday in Calabria, even in winter. Seeing is believing.
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What to eat during this season
The cold season in our towns is enjoyed together. Families meet up in the catoj or in their own homes to enjoy spending time together. It is also throughout this period that most of the delicacies that make Calabrian cuisine famous around the world are produced. Specifically, we are speaking of all the pork products of excellence, such as the Capocollo di Calabria DOP, Pancetta di Calabria DOP, and the Salsiccia and Soppressata DOP – just to name a few. All are delicious, perfect for enjoying as appetisers accompanied by local pecorino (sheep) cheeses and the exceptional wine produced throughout the autumn months and stored in the traditional catoj. Those who are fortunate will be able to taste other pork product such as the frittole – made from all the meat not used to produce the sausages and salami, boiled in a large cauldron for many hours in its own fat until becoming extremely tender and tasty. It is a dish for those who love strong flavours. A party is held each time a family prepares frittoli and if you are lucky enough to be invited to partake in such an occasion, it is sure to be truly unforgettable. Alternatively, contact our farmsteads and restaurants to discover the broad range of tastes on offer, including those mentioned prior.
Together with pork, to savour throughout the winter is the fresh pasta, especially macaroni made by being hand-rolled on a special metal rod. Traditionally served with a sauce based on goat meat, this pasta is served in a number of tasty variations.
Unmissable events and traditions
In the winter season, the most important events to see and experience in the area are connected to the Christmas festivities. Don’t expect to see the classic commercial Christmas markets found all throughout Europe, instead finding yourself immersed in an authentic destination where traditions and folklore are one with the daily life of the people.
There are the succulent pork products (mentioned prior) made by the local families, resulting in moments of sharing and community, as occurs in Santa Caterina dello Ionio where Christmas festivities commence with the “Sagra del Cotto” held at the end of November to celebrate the patron saint of the village. A few days later, at the beginning of December, San Nicola is celebrated in Monasterace. During the festival dedicated to the most beloved saint of all countries in Eastern Europe (a clear sign of the historical link between the Ionian extent of Calabria and its Byzantine origins) the so-called “paniceda” is prepared, being a traditional type of sandwich consumed only on days dedicated to the saint. Also in this town, Candelora is celebrated each February.
The Christmas and New Year festivities are celebrated with religious and customary events accompanied by lots of traditional music and fireworks as the backdrop to a joyful period, much loved by all members of the family, young and old alike!