Once the hub of the Mediterranean, Calabria now dangles, largely ignored, at the bottom of the Italian boot, struggling for survival, acceptance and a place in modern Italy and the world. Little-known even to Italians outside the nefarious activities of its ‘Ndrangheta mafia organization, Calabria allures with its simplicity and rewards with an underlying complexity, as in savoring an artisanal cheese, appreciating an ancient Greek masterwork or interpreting a particularly expressive phrase in the local dialect.
Based on the author’s experiences living, working and traveling throughout the region, Calabria: The Other Italy captures the essence of present-day Calabria, weaving observation, personal anecdote, salient historical information and social commentary into a nonfiction narrative that combines travelogue with an exploration of everyday life and culture. At times humorous, at others poignant, this fascinating work shares the joys and challenges of the “other Italy.”
From the moment author Karen Haid sets foot on the soil of this mysterious backwater, she is fascinated by the characteristic determination of its people, the wealth of its history and art, the beauty and variety of its landscape, and the rich culture, most often celebrated for its extraordinary culinary offerings. She presents a contemporary picture of the people and the place, putting the reader in her shoes, both as a resident and traveler in this oft-neglected region of Italy.
From colorful tales of encounters with the Calabrese people to those of a windsurfing saint, from the unparalleled pair of 2,500-year-old Riace Bronzes to a couple of dancing giants, from ancient castles and towers to pristine beaches and mountains, from an intense wild licorice to the unique bergamot fruit, Calabria: The Other Italy explores an Italy less traveled. Along her journey, the author teaches English, studies Italian, deals with criminality, rides trains, confronts the post office, visits museums and historic sites, experiences festivals, takes a spa cure, pops over to Sicily and Basilicata, meets locals, learns a few life lessons and eats a lot of great food. This vivid armchair travelogue embraces daily life, culture, history, the arts, food, society and tourism of Calabria, a beautiful and at times complicated region in southern Italy.