So you're planning a trip to Calabria at the toe of Italy's boot. Wouldn't it be great if you had a friend who lives there who you could invite for dinner and, over a glass of wine, leisurely ask her all your questions about places to visit and things to do?
Well, Michelle Fabio is just that friend. And her e-book, "52 Things to See and Do in Calabria," is indeed the voice of a good friend. She answers all your questions and chats enthusiastically about Calabria. She not only knows her subject, but is eager to share what she knows. Michelle is a transplant from Pennsylvania who has lived for the past 15 years in the Calabrian village of Badolato (superior), the home of her great, great grandfather. Drawing on her personal experience, Michelle has gathered practical information about the five provinces of Calabria, organized from north to south. In her book, she provides suggested itineraries for 1, 3 and 7 day trips. The pages are sprinkled with helpful photographs. And, since her book is an e-book, it is completely searchable by key word (town names, churches, parks, piazzas, foods, festivals, restaurants, beaches, etc.). So, although you might prefer a sociable dinner with your imaginary Calabrian friend, Michelle's warm and friendly advice, for its thoroughness, may be even more valuable. And perhaps best of all, it is portable—you can take it with you on your kindle or tablet and have all that information at your fingertips.
From "52 Things," you learn much about Calabria's history of conquest and settlement and where to visit towns that still evidence the invaders' heritage—Greeks, Romans, Normans, Aragonese, Spanish, Bourbon, French and others. You discover Michelle's favorite towns, including Reggio Calabria, Tropea, Pizzo, Le Castella and Serra San Bruno. She recommends a visit to an 11,000-plus-year-old Stone Age petroglyph of a bull (photograph included) found in a cave above the town of Papasidero in the province of Cosenza. And you are urged to see the famous "Riace Bronzes," in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Graecia in Reggio Calabria; statues described by Michelle as, "two nude male warriors whose bronze figures lay deep in the Ionian Sea for more than 2,000 years" until discovered in 1972 by an amateur diver off the coast of Riace. In your "friendly conversation" with Michelle, you also learn about how best to visit Calabria's national parks and other geographical wonders, including one of the region's "greatest natural treasures," the Raganello Gorges. And, if you are like me, an avid swimmer and fan of Southern Italy's famously clean coastal waters, you will be pleased to find a section of Michelle's book specially devoted to Calabria's beaches with a long list of those most highly rated by a local environmental group in its Guida Blu, "Blue Guide."
My wife and I have returned annually for a number of years to an apartment in the Salento region at the heel of the boot—opposite Calabria's toe. We plan on taking our first trip to Calabria this year and are thrilled to have "52 Things" to take along. I should add that Michelle also gives her readers her email address and invites them to contact her for a current recommendation about where to stay if they intend to visit her own town of Badolato. We do and we will.
Finally, I have discovered that Michelle regularly contributes to a blog, "Bleeding Espresso.com" which is both an extension of "52 Things" and a more in-depth description of her life in a small Calabrian village.
It is impossible to overstate the value and user-friendliness of "52 Things." I am pleased to have discovered it and wholeheartedly recommend it.