The Apennine range in Italy provides fertile grounds for exploration, with tremendous mountain vistas and atmospheric hillside villages. Running down the spine of peninsula Italy, there’s plenty of excellent hiking to be had all over the country, but why not check out the Cammino BasilianoⓇ in Calabria?
Here, we explore the second half of this epic walking route, covering the Serre and Aspromonte massifs. Characterized by towering peaks, rocky spires and dense woodlands, the scenery is some of the most inspiring in Italy. Combined with the first two sections – the Pollino and Sila massifs – the trail loosely follows the reaches of an order of ancient Basilian monks. And that means monasteries aplenty – as well as cave shrines, Latin churches, imposing fortresses and colourful local communities.
The second part of Calabria’s Cammino BasilianoⓇ, shaped by the Serre Calabresi and the Aspromonte massif, heralds rugged mountainscapes, dense forests and enigmatic Greek-speaking communities.
The section through the Serre Calabresi starts at San Floro before heading to Squillace, offering sweeping vistas over the gulf of the same name. The route then passes a smattering of ancient villages before reaching Badolato, with more fine coastal views. The town itself was founded in 1080; while you’re here, be sure to check out the Church of the Immacolata. Pack in enough time to do the Byzantine Valley of the Stilaro justice: it is worthy of an extended stop, with a trio of notable villages. Bivongi boasts a magical 11th-century monastery; Stilo, hermit caves and the Cattolica of Silo; while Pazzano is famed for the Monte Stella shrine in a natural cave carved into a mountain peak. Winding its way past the Hermitage of Sant’Ilarione in Caulonia, founded by Eastern monks, the section ends in Gioiosa Ionica.
The final section through the Aspromonte massif reveals some of the most interesting settlements in the region. The last surviving Calabrian-Greek villages cling to rocky hillsides towards the trail’s end, where Greek traditions passed down through the generations continue to flourish.
The fourth and final part of the Cammino begins in Gerace, before passing through Bianco – home of Greco wine – to Samo, springboard for a number of memorable sights in the area. Picking up a path that belongs to the “Way of the Englishman”, following in the footsteps of renowned artist and illustrator Edward Lear, the trail climbs to Bova, the capital of Greek Calabria. There are plenty of prehistoric archeological finds in the vicinity to explore, in particular in proximity to the Norman castle, as well as a number of fascinating Greek-speaking communities. Gallicianò and Pentedattilo are two of the best examples, where you’ll find people living by the traditions of their ancestors, in part preserved by their splendid isolation. The route continues to Motta San Giovanni – with the remains of the Castle of San Niceto, a Byzantine beauty from the 11th century – and finishes up in Reggio Calabria, just across the Messina Strait from Sicily.
Prepare for the Cammino BasilianoⓇ as you would any other long-distance hiking trail. Follow all the usual hiking precautions: travel as part of a group wherever possible, don’t venture from the designated route, and be sure to pack the right equipment – and enough water and other provisions to keep you going. Read the important notes section on the Cammino BasilianoⓇ website before you hit the open road (well, trail).
Top image: Pentedattilo in Calabria © Polonio Video/Shutterstock
This article was produced in partnership with the Cammino BasilianoⓇ