Small-Town Southern Italy

Books on food make some of the best travel companions. One of my favorites is Carla Capalbo's "The Food and Wine Guide to Naples and Campania," filled with vivid descriptions and photos of Southern Italian towns and villages waiting to be discovered.
Many Italian Americans trace their roots to this area, but guidebooks generally focus only on Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, leaving travelers with the impression that a massive earthquake in 1980 left nothing much else to see.
My husband and I have spent several years exploring many of the small towns in Southern Italy. The hilltop town of Calitri near the Basilicata border is one of our favorites.

Like many Southern Italian towns, Calitri has always been a town that people left. Thousands immigrated to other parts of Italy, South America and the United States in the 1900s in search of jobs, and again after 1980.
Now tourism is starting to spawn a small migration of foreigners interested in exploring their roots or buying a vacation home. Browsing the Internet one day, I found Web sites listing houses for rent in the "Borgo Antico," the medieval-town center that was all but abandoned after the earthquake.
Fourth-generation Calitri resident Emma Basile remembers "the old town as a place for cats, not people," when she was growing up. But a few years ago, a private development company began buying up a few of the houses, restoring them and selling them to foreign investors as vacation homes. After finishing school in Milan and Naples, Basile returned to Calitri and opened a real-estate and rental-property-management office that doubles as the unofficial tourist bureau.

I couldn't believe our luck when she met us in the town square on a rainy, windy evening and walked with us to the 15th-century house we had rented for four days from a British couple. Our bedroom overlooked miles of rolling green pasture land and a trail of steps leading to a little hilltop church. Above is the kitchen. All this for about $85 a night. Interested? Contact Emma at Porta Oriente. She manages properties for various owners. Prices average 15-35 euros per night. The one above is called "Blue Sky.''  Calitri is easily reached by car from Naples, or from the Amalfi Coast. For more on Calitri and some other finds in Campania, click hereAnd for another perspective, check out a blog written by Paolo, an American who owns a home in Calitri. 

"We have no relatives from there, just liked the down-to-earth unspoiled nature of the place,'' he says. "We love our decision - the town, the people and the area remain delightful." Paolo writes about his adventures there and posts his stories monthly. Click here to see Paolo's blog. 

One of the things I love about Southern Italy is scenes like the one below. You never know what you're going to run into, literally!

1 comment:

  1. I will be staying here at Blue Sky in October. One week of many immersing myself in Italy.