July 22, 2009


Travellers CalabriaIn my hands I am holding the brand new Thomas Cook travellers guide about Calabria, written in English by Lara Dunston and Terry Carter. The photography is by the later. What a team!

And how lucky am I to have won one copy that I found in my mail yesterday ! Just in time before our holiday in Calabria. Thanks to Michelle from Bleeding Espresso, who has organized a lucky draw on her blog after having interviewed Lara for five days in a row. Grazie tutti!

I am so excited to read about Tropea and Pizzo and the restaurants and trips they recommend. I am surprised about some photo selection (by the editor?). The guide does not feature the common postcard motives - which is fantastic! So I had to look twice to recognize the road winding down to Pizzo's waterfront (p.65). Interesting new angles, and a statue at the piazza of Pizzo that I have missed so far (p.64).

But of course, I found already something to nag about :
What has a mafia crime to do in a history sheet of Calabria (p.11, 2007-2008) ?

I deem more interesting that in the past years tourism and real estate business are awakening slowly from a long sleep which is mentioned in the guide.

And as we are "Pizzitani", I need to be fussy about Pizzo's history:
The French general Joachim Murat who was shot at the castle of Pizzo in 1815 was King of Naples and Sicily at that time. He was Napoleon Bonaparte's brother-in-law and on the run after Napoleon's fall (p.11, 65).

By far I do know less about Calabria than Lara and Tery, the guide writers, know by now. However, from the few locations I know that worth a trip, I think Seminara deserves to be mentioned. This little village is a shopping must for ceramic lovers while in Calabria.

And what about the Holy Grail in Badolato ?

Okay, enough nagging. I love that guide book!

Pizzo is no. 2 in Lara's top 10 of highlights in Calabria - right after Tropea! And thanks for the "elegant piazza" in Pizzo, which is slightly exaggerated (p.21). The piazza is not that elegant, however the lively heart of the village.

The introduction to Calabria is pinpointing exactly how I feel about this region, its landscape, people, food and customs. Great writing !

Lara recommends not to travel to Calabria in the month of August (remark: I would underline that! Italy's coasts are far too croweded in August, especially mid-August).

That's all for now. I just started to read. And I will try the restaurants in Pizzo that are mentioned in this new Calabria guide book: Le Castellane, La Lamia and Toscano. From the later I know that they serve great pizza at a cosy corner with great sunset views. (Update summer 2011: Le Castellane is the best restaurant in Pizzo, a bit more pricy though than the others; Toscano has "upgraded" and does not serve Pizza anymore. Try La Ruota and SPQR for great pizze).

CONCLUSION: this is a great comprehensive guide, handy and light, ideal for anyone who spends a long weekend or summer holiday in Calabria. Definately a must have!

UPDATE : Now available NEW 2nd Edititon:


  1. Ciao Suzie!

    Thank you for the wonderful comments and feedback!

    I am currently on the road in Spain and it's hectic as usual. Tomorrow we fly to Venice (for dinner at The Met) then the next day we fly to Dubai, so I'm going to have to get back to you in a few days.

    When I get back to you, I'll explain why we make the decisions we do (about words and pics) when we write and shoot guidebooks, why some things go in and some things get left out. Mostly it has to do with word counts. We have strict word counts for each chapter and so we can't include everything. There were so many other things I wanted to include but I simply couldn't. But more on that later.

    All of the history came from local sources, and then we triangulate it with three academic sources. After that, the editor at Thomas Cook checks all the facts too. So I'll have to look at my research notes again when I'm back in Dubai and get back to you :)

    Thanks again!

  2. Ciao Lara,

    thanks and congratulations again to your guide book ! I am very excited to have a copy of it, written by a blogger friend :-)

    The facts are correct ! However one detail could have been added (that the general was king) - or left out (the mafia killing) as it might give a wrong impression and it is not really a historic mile stone.

    Meanwhile I found that Seminara is mentioned in the art and craft chapter. But it is not in the index, that's why I did not see it. Sorry.

    I do enjoy reading your guidebook and looking at the pics, as they are not the usual postcard motives that you might find (if you are lucky).

    Have a save tip and until later!