It’s hard to describe this magical corner of Italy in words. Yes, it holds a special place in my heart since both my grandparents emigrated from here, but there’s more to it than that.
Calitri is definitely off the beaten track and there’s no train service here so you either have to take a bus (which we did on our first visit thirteen years ago) or rent a car. You could certainly stay there without a car as all you really need in the way of shops is within walking distance, but then you would miss out on driving through the spectacular countryside, most often on roads where you might only pass one or two other vehicles.
There’s the ancient castello (castle), which I’ve yet to visit-it’s only open limited hours on the weekend and for some reason every time I try to go, it’s closed. Definitely next year!
The town is known as “the Positano of the South” for its brightly colored homes which seem neatly stacked one over the other. There are walkways and stairs winding down from the top (where we stayed) to the very bottom and let me tell you it’s a hike to go all the way back up.
I could wander around for hours admiring the doors (check out some photos here) in every color and size. It’s easy to get lost, but as long as you keep going in the same direction you’ll eventually get to where you’re going. One piece of advice-don’t head down to a restaurant located at the very bottom (when you’re starving) unless you’re sure it’s open…
The views are amazing, especially from the top of town-green rolling hills as far as the eye can see and an ancient volcano (Mt. Vulture) off in the distance. How I loved waking up to this vista every single morning.
In 1980 an earthquake struck this part of the Campania region and although Calitri was affected, it was not nearly as severe as in other towns in the area. Much of the borgo did experience some structural damage and at the time many residents took the opportunity to move to the newer housing that was built just outside the older section. There is restoration ongoing in the borgo and it seems that there are variety of houses for sale. It’s tempting to consider buying a small place that we could call our own.
What is it that we love about Calitri? Well at this time of year there are virtually no tourists and I’m not sure that there are ever very many travelers that venture here. It’s a real slice of life in an Italian village. Mornings start with a coffee and a pastry. At any time of day you’ll see small groups of older gentlemen sitting on benches or standing outside a bar discussing who knows what! You go to the market for your vegetables, another for chicken and yet another for meat. Shops close up in the middle of the day and reopen around 4. Sunday lunches are family affairs and if you want to dine in a restaurant you must have a reservation. And did I mention how quiet it is here…
And let’s not forget one the highlights of the week-the evening passeggiata where they even close down the main street and everyone is out strolling and chatting. I have to admit that we sort of stuck out as we weren’t dressed entirely in black, but I’m fairly certain that they already knew we were stranieri (foreigners).
Arrivederci Calitri, we’ll be back.