DRAMATIC coastlines and sublime beaches make Italy’s southern tip ideal for stress-free family fun, says writer Laura Bond.
For Italy aficionados looking for something off the beaten track, Calabria offers untouched beauty, incredible food and a completely different pace to the better-known north.
Located in the very tiptoe of the country’s famous boot-shaped peninsula, Calabria is a mash-up of stunning beaches along the rugged coastline and beguiling hilltop towns.
In-the-know Romans and Milanese rent hideaways here for the summer, so the best time to visit is June or September to avoid the crush.
Any earlier or later and you’ll find life stretching out before you at a sleepy pace.
IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC
Hidden among the vineyards and surrounded by mountains, TUI’s Magic Life resort in Calabria is an absolute gem, giving you the under-the-radar holiday feel with all the hassle taken away.
With just a 20-minute transfer from Lamezia Terme airport, once you arrive at the four-star, all-inclusive site your stay can be action-packed or the ultimate in relaxation – you decide!
There are five swimming pools, including a brilliant waterpark for children, five restaurants, four bars, a jam-packed kids’ club schedule and almost every sport imaginable – including tennis, volleyball, archery, aerobics and cycling – so the pretty, flower-filled resort is a box-ticker for parents seeking a stress-free sojourn.
Our duplex room (ideal for those who want a bit of space and privacy) was crisp, clean and white, and just a short stroll through the atmospheric pine forest to the beautiful private sandy beach.
GET A PIZZO THE ACTION
From the resort, take an excursion to the nearby fishing village of Pizzo.
Cobbled streets are surrounded by ancient city walls and, as it’s known as the “ice-cream city”, don’t leave without trying tartufo di Pizzo, a chocolate and hazelnut ice-cream ball filled with warm chocolate – yum!
Make a beeline for the Church of Piedigrotta, carved into the rocks underground and full of statues.
Pick up some tasty local treats in Lo Bianco, at the top of the main square, including Calabrian honey and nduja, the spicy sausage that’s arguably the region’s most famous export.
A guided afternoon excursion costs £25 per adult.
SUN, SEA, SPA, RETREAT
Back at Magic Life, head to the Med’s turquoise water for an afternoon of windsurfing or canoeing, before a well-earned Aperol spritz in the beach bar.
Book yourself into the spa for a relaxing back massage, £33, or treat your little ones to a mini manicure, £8.50.
Then grab a moment’s peace in the huge hammocks in the shade of the pine forest.
FEAST ON SEVEN COURSES
With mountains on one side and the main pool on the other, the resort’s rooftop restaurant, The Trattoria, is a traditional Italian serving seven-course meals, including a wonderful antipasto board piled high with meats, cheeses and olives.
Or soak up coastline views from the beachside veranda of The Flavour restaurant, where you’ll be treated to delicious dishes from around the world – six mini starters and six mini puddings, plus your choice of main.
One meal in each of these restaurants is included for guests. Delizioso!
Seven-night holidays at the four-star TUI Magic Life Calabria on an all-inclusive basis cost from £839 per person when booked online and include one free child place.
Price is based on two adults and one child sharing, including return flights from London Gatwick and transfers (Firstchoice.co.uk).