Our Trip to Italy

About Calabria, Italy

We departed from Vancouver, BC, Canada for Rome, Italy. We flew Economy Class with Air Canada from Vancouver to Montreal and then Premium Economy Class, Air Canada Rouge from Montreal to Rome. Such a delight to be pampered by the lovely attendants with Air Canada on our 8 hour flight to Rome from Montreal. We had spacious seating and excellent services with dinner, snack and our beverages of choice during our flight including hot towel service! Wow, it seemed like my early days of flying with Air Canada in the 1980’s. I was thoroughly impressed and would definitely recommend Air Canada Rouge Premium Economy for my clients, especially when travelling on longer flights.

Upon arrival in Rome we were picked u by a sweet older gentleman that the Hotel Palladium Palacearranged for us. He spoke no English so was a bit disappointed when we were unable to communicate with him, however, I communicated to him we would be leaving on the train to Calabria the next day, he got very excited and pounded the dashboard while saying something in Italian. He was able to communicate to us that he grew up in Sicily and moved to Rome when he was a young boy and seemed to love the south of Italy. Upon arrival at the Hotel Palladium Palace at 10:00 am, we were welcomed and given the keys to our quiet triple room on the 5th floor. Gianfranco made sure we were well looked after. Although we were extremely tired when we got to our room, we decided not to sleep but rather get freshened up and head out to lunch and the Spanish Steps, which we thought was a 20 minute walk but was actually about a 40 minute walk. Not far from our hotel, on our way to the Spanish Steps we discovered the Santa Maria Magorrie…..wow, what a sight to see on the inside.

The Ristorante where we had lunch was so good we decided to go back for an early dinner, around 5:30 pm. That was indeed the earliest dinner for next few weeks, as we headed off next day on the train from Rome to Paola, Calabria.

Marco, my nephew, picked us up at the train station in Paola and drove away from the beach into the mountains, where he pointed out the World War II German Bunkers (or Pillboxes), and onto the beautiful Palazzo Conforti in Marano Marchesato we went.

Francesco Conforti greeted us warmly about 7:30 pm and told us the building/property has been in his family for over 400 years. He and is co-host Barbara were aware and very accommodating of our Vegan diets and offered to serve us breakfast at whatever time we wished in the morning. Francesco showed us the kitchen area and adjacent dining room where breakfast would be served and he advised us we can make use of the kitchen for making our own dinners if we wished. He opened the fridge to show it was well stocked with beverages, including beer and wine that we were most welcome to help ourselves to.

My sister, who has been married to an Italian man and living in Marano Marchesato for over 30 years, lives only a 15 minute walk from the Palazzo Conforti. Along the way we could fill up our water bottles with fresh, great tasting and mineral rich water from an underground mountain stream, where all the locals get their drinking water. That evening we had the first of many fantastic and so reasonably priced dinners at Manu’s Ristorante in Marano Marchesato. Manu serves excellent Antipasto (also accommodating our Vegan and Vegetarian diets) as well as excellent pasta and pizza. Pizza on the first night was huge with mushrooms and new potatoes. By the 4th night dining here with extended family Manu ran out of new potatoes so we got mushrooms and French fries on the pizza.

Manu also got in fresh mussels and clams on request for a few nights for many of us to enjoy. I think the earliest we started dinner in Marano was 9:30 pm

.Next was my niece’s wedding. She was married in the Catholic Church down the road from my sister’s home and then the reception that started at 10:30 pm was held on the other side on Cosenza at the Villa Quintieri in Carolei. The five course dinner was amazing, especially since they accommodated our Vegan diets in such an amazing way. My favorite was the Vegan Pistachio Pesto dish (the 3rd course). Let me tell you the Italian chefs really know how to cook Vegan & Vegetarian, even as far south as Calabria!

We spent numerous days at the beach in Paola. Such amazing beaches with so many services. You can rent two lawn chairs and a beach umbrella on the beach for only 5 Euros per day, with access to toilets, change rooms and showers. The showers you pay a few Euros extra. The area is set up with bar/ristorante services during the day with full meals available or just snacks. At 7:00 pm they fire up the Forno Oven and serve pizza with music and dancing. For those of you who love the beach, Paola is a great place to visit and stay awhile.

One evening we also had dinner at the Belvedere Ristorante in Paola, which is owned and operated by the Italian Bee Gees. We met with one of the singers who also showed us to our table, thanks, once again to Marco.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention Massimo a neighbor and friend of the family who rented a van for several days to take many of us back and forth to the beach and to the wedding reception. Massimo and his sister run a bar, Odessea Bar, in Cosenza (he starts work at 5:30 am making some of the food and preparing for the day) near the Autostazione di Cosenza (main bus station).

If you are near there, be sure to stop by for something hot or cold to drink and to eat. Tell Massimo that Rosalie sent you!

Once in Cosenza, we did some shopping on the Corso Mazzini, the main street which is closed to traffic.

Note, almost all the shops offer 50% off starting July 4th every year until mid-August. Great shopping and excellent prices on Italian made products, even before the sale.

On another day in Cosenza, we visited the Svevo Castle and nearby park in the old section of Cosenza. Would highly recommend it.

And on our last day before taking the train back to Rome, we visited the Sila.

You drive high into the mountains where there is a plateau of very fertile farmland where you can buy local potatoes which are grown in abundance. The tourist town of Camigliatella bustles with activity in August and in winter there is skiing.

We loved Cosenza, Paola and surrounding area in Calabria. For a lovely holiday and great prices for accommondations, food and shopping it’s a must visit for your bucket list!

On July 4th we took the high speed train from Paola to Rome to begin our Italian Vistas 12 day land tour of Italy with Collette Vacations.

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