I have recently been to visit my father in Italy, and as pointed out during my trip, this is definitely not my first time to the country. In fact, since I was 14, I have gone pretty much every year or every other year either on family holidays, schools trips, and now obviously to visit family. I have literally gone from top to bottom of the country and whilst I’m totally biased because now it’s a cheap holiday for me, I love the place – although I can seldom speak the language.
So, where do I spend the majority of my time in Italy these days? Well, a little town called Scalea. Not particularly internationally known, and it’s a near enough 2 hour train journey from Naples, but it’s a lovely quiet town, partly historic and partly modern, like any good town is.
It is a picturesque sort of town, but like most southern towns in Italy, is largely empty and many buildings are in a state of disrepair. However, this is slowly changing, and much of the once abused centro storico is being renovated and protected by locals including my dad who has banded the other local “foreigners” who own property in the town, to clean up some of the problematic graffiti.
Scalea is full of history and nature. Whether it be the ruined castle at the top of the town that affords you views all around, from the mountains to the sea, or if it’s from the tower by the beach that lets you look upon the old town rising up out of the new, it’s a stunning place to be. Shameless family promotion now though: you can actually go and stay with my dad in his B&B in the town and you just need to click through here.
Now it’s time to talk about what you can do whilst you’re there. Scalea is nice to walk around and everything, and you can always go and relax on the beach, but it’s relatively cheap to grab a train and go explore further afield. This time around, I spent 95% of my time relaxing, but it didn’t stop me popping off to Paestum with my dad and step-mum for a day out.
Paestum was about an hour and a half back up the coast, and it was an early start in order to get back into shade by the afternoon. Luckily, the moment you leave the train station here, there’s a road dead opposite and you just walk on up it until you reach the ruins. You have to pay to get in, and you pay at the museum (which is easily signposted) and then you’re free to spend as much time as you want either in the ruins or in the museum.
The ruins are largely unique, and were lost in marshland for years. Here, Greek and Roman ruins stand side-by-side as a testament to antiquity, and how when the Greeks left this site, the Romans assumed control and built newer buildings over the top of the old ones – except for the temples that they repurposed for their own Gods. Out of season you can’t go inside the temple ruins, but luckily the tourist season has started and the temples are open for all to go in and experience just how big these things are.
Whilst on this trip I opted more for my father’s roof terrace to get a sun kissed look, on other travels out here, I have managed to see other places.
Diamante is a town, not far from Scalea that boasted beautiful murals and mosaics, many by the locals who take pride in their town. You can walk any street, from the main shopping areas to the back street residential areas and you will find art anywhere. Also close by is Cirella and it’s peninsula that has the remnants of Roman ruins alongside a World War I bomb crater. Just north of Scalea is the town of Praia A Mare, a beautiful seaside town that has blue waters and has slightly more going on than Scalea.
A little more inland, you can find Papasidero. I once described it as the Italian Silent Hill because it’s tucked away, the road there is winding and the town just sort of appears out of the mist. It is again picturesque but lacks things to do other than look around at historic buildings if that is your thing. Further north and again, inland, you can find Padula. This is perhaps a little more of a tourist place, as you can visit the Monastery there. This Monastery is vast, and boasts the biggest cloisters around. You can easily spend a day here, looking at the intricate artworks painted all around, as well as the kept gardens and outdoor spaces.
As I have said, I have been to Italy many times. There isn’t much you can’t do there, and some of the sites you can visit are truly amazing. I have been to Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento, Salerno, Capri, the Vatican City, Portofino, the Amalfi Coast, and many other places and you can truly find beauty, history and culture wrapped around everything. It’s fairly common on my return journey to spend a night in Naples before my flight back to the UK, something I missed this time around, but this city is also vast. I have been lucky to visit at various times of the year and witness some truly amazing festivals, to say I am not religious. Whilst May is good for sun, sea and sand, with a bike show in Scalea at the end of the month, September is good for festivals of the Madonna.
If you have the opportunity to ever go to Italy, I recommend it, no matter where it is.