The southernmost tip of the Italian mainland, Calabria is relatively undiscovered by tourists and offers an authentic experience of southern Italian life. Get to know everything about its amazing food and drink, then try your hand at one of the many local recipes.

It really is baffling why Calabria isn’t the tourist destination it should be. It’s got 500 miles of dramatic coastlines (with plenty of pristine sandy beaches), three gigantic, barely touched national parks, stunning countryside that includes rolling hills, craggy cliffs, rugged mountains and a local culture that encapsulates the Mezzogiorno (southern Italy) lifestyle perfectly.

When it comes to food, Calabrians know how to eat well. Historically this was an incredibly poor region, which means la cucina povera is integral to the vast majority of dishes. If there are five ingredients that sum up Calabria’s unique food scene, they’d be pork, peperoncino (the local chilli pepper), swordfish, Tropea onions and aubergines. ‘Nduja – a soft pork sausage flavoured with plenty of chilli – is the region’s greatest culinary achievement, but you’ll find chillies and aubergines on pretty much every menu in the area. Along the coast, fish and seafood are naturally the main attraction, with swordfish held in the highest regard (similar to Sicily, just across the water).

Calabria is very much its own region, as it is almost entirely surrounded by water (sharing just a small border with Basilicata to the north). This makes it a seriously special place to visit, especially if you’re a fan of the relaxed pace of life we all associate with southern Italy. Below we have everything you could possibly need to know about the region, plus a whole host of easy, simple, authentic recipes that showcase the local cuisine. If you hadn’t planned on visiting Calabria on your next holiday, you will do after learning all about it.

Calabria: a crash course

Get to know about all the ingredients, flavours and dishes that make Calabria one of the best destinations in Italy for simple, honest food with our complete guide.

The pastas of Calabria

'Nduja, 'nduja!

You can't talk about Calabrian food without talking about 'nduja (en-doo-yah) – a spreadable spicy cured meat that imbues anything it touches with an incredible flavour. Get to know about its origins, how it's used in cooking and why the very best examples of the PDO-protected product come from the tiny village of Spilinga.

Cool off

Where to eat in Calabria

Planning a trip to the region and want to feast on the very best? Take a look at our map guide of the top restaurants in Calabria and get set for a gastronomic tour of the area.

Know your onions

Pesto, Calabria-style

Treated as both a dip and a dressing for pasta, pesto Calabrese is a wonderful combination of peppers, nuts, tomatoes, chilli and cheese. Simple to make and very, very tasty, it's no wonder that the locals regard it as far superior to the more well-known basil pesto.

Flavours of Calabria

The pride of Calabria

Calabria produced an incredible ninety percent of the world's bergamots, with groves of the citrus fruits peppering the sun-drenched landscape. Get to know why the region is so obsessed with them and how they're used in the local cuisine.

An ode to aubergines

Calabria is famous for its love of aubergines, a vegetable that grows particularly well in the local climate. Try one of these two recipes to see how home cooks make the most of its silky texture and beautiful flavour.

Something sweet

The chefs of Calabria

Luca and Antonio Abbruzzino